How does the biographer deal with the bad behaviour of their subjects? If they say or do cruel or offensive things, show weakness, cowardice, snobbery, greed or mendacity, betray friends and lovers, treat their family unkindly, should the biographer pass judgment? When writing about a historical monster - a tyrant or a corrupt leader - how should they tell the story? Is absolute truth the fundamental requirement of biography? Is emotional involvement necessary? Is total objectivity possible?
Hermione Lee, President of Wolfson College and Professor of Literature at Oxford, is the acclaimed biographer of (among others) Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Penelope Fitzgerald. She will discuss these questions and give examples of bad behaviour she has encountered in her biographical subjects.