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'A messenger from the dead'

30 August 2004

'At times it's almost as if there's a telepathic communication going on. You get this extraordinary sense of intimacy with people you're never met. After a while you begin to feel almost like a messenger from the dead, trying to bring people back to life. And that's a very strange feeling, almost a magical one...

'I think that to invite the dead to tell you some truths that it would be unreasonable to ask them when they were alive is to pay them a compliment. You're helping them to be heard again and what they say contributes to the living world. You see, that's what I've tried to do as a biographer: to keep death in its place, and not to let it have the final word.'

Michael Holroyd talking to John Preston in the Sunday Telegraph about being a biographer