BOSWELLS CHILDREN, THE ART OF THE BIOGRAPHER
Press), 1992, ISBN 1-55002-177-X, 268 Pages, cloth, $19.95.
Boswells Children, edited by R B Fleming, is a
collection of essays that comment in various ways on the art of biography. The
essays, first delivered as papers at a conference on Biography and History,
hosted by the Centre for Canadian Studies, Edinburgh University, in May 1991,
deal with broad topics such as the relationship of the biograher and subject;
the lives of minor participants in major events; and the necessity of
understanding the lives of the major players in pivotal events. The book
contains many eminent names in the field of biography. Francess Halpenny,
former head of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, surveys the
genres past and future; Elspeth Cameron, biographer of Hugh McLennan,
Earle Birney and Irving Layton, discusses truth in biography; and Réal
Bélanger, the only French-language biographer of Prime Minister Sir
Wilfrid Laurier, explains why biography has taken second place to political
history in Québec. Well known characters live again: Aimee Semple
McPherson urges us to believe her invented past, while her biographer, Janice
Dickin McGinnis, warns us to be wary of McPhersons claims; Timothy
Eatons avowed fondness for Northern Ireland is questioned by biographer
Leon Litvack; and Chris Raible, specialist in the Rebellion period of Upper
Canada, deals with the complexities of rebel leader, William Lyon Mackenzie.
Characters such as John Galt, Norman Bethune and the Irish rebel, Michael
Collins, make appearances. Two of the essays are published in their original
French. The editor contributes a piece about railway baron, Sir William
This book should be on the
bookshelf of anyone interested in biography and its complexities.
RE BOSWELLS CHILDREN:
The essays are, without
exception, informative and delightful to read (covering) a wide range of
subjects... (R G Moyles, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1993).
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