Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Classics Club’s July Meme: Biography on Classic Authors

The question for July's meme is: 

Have you ever read a biography on a classic author? If so, tell us about it. If you had already read works by this author, did reading a biography of his/her life change your perspective on the author’s writing? Why or why not?

I am not a biography fan, so I have not read much of it. But I was really interested in Dickens’ life, particularly in his love affair with Nelly Ternan. I felt like there were two different personalities in Dickens which I’d like to know more. However, instead of reading Claire Tomalin’s biography on Charles Dickens, I picked her The Invisible Woman, which is Nelly Ternan’s biography. Maybe I thought seeing Dickens from Nelly’s perspective would be more interesting….and honest.

Reading it changed my thoughts about Dickens personalities, which I have been gathering from his writings all these times. Now I see him just as a imperfect human being who can make mistakes. He had principles, and he knew what’s right and wrong, but like us, he could not resist the temptation.

Did it change my perspective on his writings? It did, but in a positive way. Now that I know Dickens better, my thoughts towards conflicts and characters in his books change a bit. And whenever I read about some cases, I might think to myself, could they be influenced by a certain experience in his life? Knowing Dickens better only makes me more related to his books, and makes the reading experience more familiar.

Now I am curious about Émile Zola’s biography: The Life and Times of Emile Zola by F.W.J. Hemmings. That will be the next biography of classics author I am going to read. How about you? Have you read any biography on Dickens and Zola? How about other authors’?


  1. I think the Nellie Ternan bio would be interesting too. Gosh, why are there so many books, so many authors. It is so hard choosing among them all.

    1. LOL, agree! So many books, so many authors, so little time... ;)

  2. Frederick Brown's biography of Zola's is very good, and I've also read Angus Wilson's, which I also enjoyed :)

    1. I must check on those two, thanks for the reference!


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