News archive 2007
Famous names for life writing talks01 Feb 2007, PR 13/07
The Spring series of talks by prominent biographers and autobiographers, including Hermione Lee, Alexander Masters and James Shapiro, has started with a talk by the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘The greatest reference work on earth' – Lawrence Goldman.
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contains 55,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the year 2003. Editor, Lawrence Goldman, will give a talk entitled Compiling Dictionaries of Biography: Politics, Scholarship and the Nation in British History since the Reformation.
Max Saunders, Professor of English and organiser of this series of talks, said: ‘ “Life Writing at King's” has been organised to coincide with the launch of the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King's. Life-Writing has become one of the most exciting sites of exchange in recent intellectual life – not only exchange between different academic disciplines, but exchange between universities and the wider public. These lectures aim to bring leading practitioners to King's. They are intended for all members of the College with an interest in biography or autobiography.'
Other speakers in the series include Hermione Lee, acclaimed biographer of Virginia Woolf, who will be talking about Edith Wharton and biography on 27 February at 18.00 (G.73, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus).
Just published, Hermione Lee's book is the first biography of Edith Wharton by a British woman writer. It challenges the accepted view, showing Wharton's lifelong ties to Europe and displaying her as a tough, erotically brave, startlingly modern writer and woman.
Reviews have described it as: ‘a fascinating portrait of a brilliant writer (The Economist); ‘Intolerable, Unstoppable, Indispensable' (Ferdinand Mount in The Spectator) and ‘[Lee's] subtle and painstaking ability to illuminate the work with the life, and to make the life itself so interesting makes this a superb biography' (Colm Tóibín in The Irish Times)
King's alumni Alexander Masters prize-winning author of Stuart: A Life Backwards will talk about the writing and filming of his prizewinning book, described as a ‘topsy-turvy' account of the saga of a wild street vagrant. It won The Guardian's ‘First Book Award', narrowly failed to win the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction (2005) and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book Awards.
Masters graduated from King's with a first class honours degree in Physics in 1987. He met Stuart when he worked as a social worker and it was Stuart himself that suggested it should be written backwards, which it was after his death in front of a train at the age of 32.
This talk will be held on 15 March at 17.30 (Room 2C, King's Building, Strand Campus).
James Shapiro, author of the best-selling book on Shakespeare, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare will give a talk entitled Life Writing and the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy.
1599, winner of the 2006 Samuel Johnson Prize, was described as a ‘forensic biographical survey' of Shakespeare. It provides a look into the daily life of the playwright during a time of personal upheaval and prodigious creativity. During this period, Shakespeare produced Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Hamlet.
James Shapiro has published widely on Shakespeare and Elizabethan culture and is also Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His talk is on 1 May at 16.00 ( King's Lecture Theatre, South Range, King's Building, Strand Campus).
Clare Pettitt, Lecturer in the Department of English at King's and a specialist in the Victorian literature and cultural history, is currently editing H M Stanley's In Darkest Africa. Her book Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? Missionaries, Journalists, Explorers and Empire (Profile and Harvard UP, 2007) will be published in May. She is also a Research Director of a five-year Leverhulme Research Project in Victorian Studies.
Her talk Livingstone, Stanley, and their servants: biography and problems of race and class will be held on 4 June at 17.00 (Room 2C, King's Building, Strand Campus).
Admission is free to all the talks and the series is supported by the College's Annual Fund.
If you would like to receive e-mail information about these and other Life Writing events at King's, please contact: Max Saunders, Department of English: Max Saunders
For further information see the Centre for Life-Writing Research see: Centre for Life-Writing Research
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 6,200 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of health care professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £114 million, and has anannual income of more than £369 million.
Melanie Gardner, Public Relations Office, King's College London Tel: 020 7848 3073; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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