Classics Club: July Meme

This month's question for Classics Club bloggers 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? Or, if you’ve never read a biography of a classic author, would you? Why or why not?
 I have read several biographies of authors!  From Beverly Cleary's wonderful autobiographies to Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, I've read a bunch.  Plus an old and obscure life of Jane Austen that I got from the library and have no idea what it was called.  It was a nice book though. Here are some that I remember:

Dr. Johnson, writer of first English dictionary

Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell -- rambling and huge, but entertaining.  Actually more fun to read than most of Dr. Johnson's writing (sorry) and source of many favorite quips.

The Tale of Beatrix Potter, by Margaret Lane -- A really nice biography of Miss Potter, and not endlessly long.

J. A. H. Murray, ultimate English dictionary
Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary, by K. M. Elisabeth Murray -- Is the OED a classic?  Of course it is!  Anyway I just have to plug this excellent book.  I know The Professor and the Madman is all stylish and hip, but this biography is my favorite. Plus, look at him.  Is he the nicest-looking academic you ever saw or what?

Boy and Going Solo, by Roald Dahl -- Memoirs of boyhood and his life as a young man working in East Africa and then as an RAF pilot.  The first chapter of Going Solo is one of my all-time favorite pieces of humor!  What he doesn't tell you is that after the stint as a pilot, he went to work in Washington DC for the rest of the a spy!

A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, by Beverly Cleary -- Memoirs of girlhood and then trying to get through college during the Depression, and working as a librarian during WWII!  Both of these are great and give nice insights into one of the best children's authors of the 20th century.

One time I even read a Lives of the Poets by...Louis Untermeyer!  I learned a lot, but it was quite the project.  I think it started with Caedmon, maybe?, and went right through both English and American poets.


  1. I want that Beatrix Potter one! :)

  2. You can cut that "(sorry)" - everybody enjoys Life of Johnson more than Johnson's own writing.


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