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Writing the living, writing the dead
Patrick French

PATRICK FRENCH©‎ Justine Stoddart
  • Thursday 19 June 2014, 6.00PM to 7.30pm
  • Free admission
    Booking required
  • Berrick Saul Building, University of York (map|getting to campus)

Event details

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Is it possible to write a truthful biography of a living person? Does literary biography distort our reading of a writer’s books? Can perspective come only in retrospect, with the death of the author?

Patrick French discusses the art of literary biography, and shows how VS Naipaul, born in rural poverty in colonial Trinidad, turned himself into a key figure in contemporary world literature.

About the speaker

Patrick French is a British writer, biographer and historian. His books have been published in more than a dozen languages, and he has won awards including the Hawthornden Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and America’s National Book Critics Circle Award.

He is the author of:

  • Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer (1994)
  • Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division (1997)
  • Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land (2003)
  • The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul (2008)
  • India: A Portrait (2011)

He is presently at work on a book about the British empire. Patrick French has recently had fellowships at the University of Warwick and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India, and in 2013 he taught the UEA’s inaugural creative writing course in nonfiction, in Calcutta.



Wheelchair accessible


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