Have booked trip to subject’s birthplace, an island off the coast of Britain for the end of April. Have had an email back from local librarian saying they have a couple of books I didn’t know about so that will be interesting to look at.
Also finished reading a book about writing a biography – not a how to book, but how I did it. It’s called “Dreaming of Rose, A biographer’s journal” by Sarah Lefanu and it charts her journey writing a biography of Rose Macaulay. It’s very interesting insight of the ups and downs of a biographer’s life, particularly as she is not the first person to write a biography of Rose, so has other people’s previous thoughts on Rose to contend with and some of Rose’s friends and relatives were still alive at the time.
Unlike Sarah, my subject was born in Victorian times and, to date, no-one has written a biography of them. There are clearly advantages and disadvantages to writing about someone who has died in the recent past – you can talk to people who knew them. However you also have to be careful of not causing offence or risk being done for libel. In contrast, I have to construe my subject’s character and personality from what they wrote about themselves and from what little else others wrote about them.