Skip to Content

Writing a biographical novel

21 February 2011

'With a biographical novel you've got the basic structure of the life, you've got a mass of facts. The problem is to find a novel-shaped story to tell, there's no point telling the biographical story, it's been done... what the novel can do is to give a seamless sense of the experience of the writer and how his personal life was interwoven with his public life, how they impinged on each other and to imagine how he would react to success, failure, disappointment, frustration in a more inward way, than a biographer can do.

The truthfulness of the novel is not a truthfulness to fact in the way that a biography is, it's a truthfulness to your own intuition of what this man amounted to, what motivated him, how did he reconcile or not reconcile the conflicting impulses in his character.'

David Lodge, author of A Man of Parts on H G Wells, in the Bookseller