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  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407066219
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

Body Parts

Essays on Life-Writing

Brilliant, readable, lively essays on the problems of reading and writing biography - a hot topic today

As readers, we seem to be increasingly fascinated by studies of individual lives. In this timely, unusual and exhilarating collection Hermione Lee is concerned in different ways with approaches to 'life-writing': the relation of biography to fiction and history; the exploration of writers' lives in connection with their works; the new and changing ways in which biographies, memoirs, diaries and autobiographies can be discussed. As the title suggests, she also unravels the complex links between physical, sensual details and the 'body' of a work. 'Shelley's Heart and Pepys' Lobsters', for example, deals with myths, contested objects and things that go missing, while 'Jane Austen Faints' takes five varied accounts of the same dramatic moment to ask how biography deals with the private lives of famous women, a theme taken up in 'Virginia Woolf's Nose', on the way that the author's life-stories have been transformed into fiction and film. Rich, diverting and entertaining, these brilliant studies by a leading critic and internationally acclaimed biographer raise profound and intriguing issues about every aspect of writing, and reading, a life.

  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407066219
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

Hermione Lee

Hermione Lee is a biographer, critic, and teacher of literature. Her previous books include the internationally acclaimed biography, Virginia Woolf ('One of the most impressive biographies of the decade: moving, eloquent, powerful', Financial Times) and Edith Wharton ('A feat of exhaustive research... a glorious biography', Independent on Sunday), as well as books on Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather and Philip Roth. Her collection of essays on life-writing, Body Parts, was published in 2005, and her Biography: A Very Short Introduction in 2009. In 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship. She lives in Oxford and Yorkshire.

Also by Hermione Lee

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Praise for Body Parts



In its cleverness, intimacy and verve, Lee's own work is utterly engaging - perfect material in which to lose yourself between the sheets.

Lucasta Miller, Sunday Times

Enthralling...This is a superb, intriguing volume of literary curios.

Scotland on Sunday

Everything Hermione Lee, who both writes and teaches biography, has written about the states of the biographer's art in recent years is worth re-reading.

Anne Chisholm, Spectator

A pleasure to read: clever, witty, sceptical and sensitive.

Irish Times



Contains many incidental pleasures and fascinating facts.

Lynn Barber, Daily Telegraph

A firework display of mental brilliance.

Mark Bostridge, Independent on Sunday

Grippingly vivid.

Financial Times

Elegant, level-headed tidbits of higher journalism and light scholarship.


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