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Journal Articles Les Grandes Figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts Year : 2017

Harold Nicolson the New Biographer.


Harold Nicolson’s name is more often associated with the history of diplomacy than with the history of life-writing, though he happens to be one of the main biographers who participated in the development of the modernistic form we have come to call “New Biography.” The term was coined by Virginia Woolf in 1927, when she published an article reviewing Nicolson book Some People (“The New Biography”). This particular practice, which developed principally in the 1920s and 1930s, breaks away from 19th -century biography, steeped in hagiography and hero-worship; often seeking to demystify and debunk the icons of the Victorian age. Another of its prominent features is its highly literary style, at times toying with fiction, and experimenting with hybrid forms such as “autobiografiction,” a practice more specific to postmodern literature, though the term was coined as early as 1906 by the British writer Stephen Reynolds. Harold Nicolson wrote eleven full-length biographical studies from 1921 to 1956, several of which became–and a few remain–reference texts either because of their specific style or due to the original perspective they put forward. I shall discuss here the extent to which his specific contribution to praxis and theory, during the prosperous period for New Biography, grants him an honourable position within the canon of biographical literature.


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halshs-01659953 , version 1 (06-07-2018)


  • HAL Id : halshs-01659953 , version 1


Maryam Thirriard. Harold Nicolson the New Biographer.. Les Grandes Figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts, 2017, Great Biographers / Les Grands biographes, 6bis. ⟨halshs-01659953⟩
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