Is it inhibiting or invaluable for biographers to have had a personal relationship with the subject of their books? Michael Bloch, a close friend of James Lees-Milne (renowned for his work with the National Trust), is both his biographer and editor of his inimitable diaries. Selina Hastings' The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham was widely considered the literary biography of 2009. She was a friend of her previous subject, Rosamond Lehmann. Miranda Seymour's most recent biography is Chaplin's Girl. She has also written a revealing memoir of her father. Chaired by Andrew Lownie, founder of the Biographers' Club. (DeadGoodBooks)
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