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The Art of Life:

Are biographies fiction?

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This Debate

Stephen Frears, Hermione Lee, Ray Monk. Katie Derham hosts.

Writers claim to be able to uncover the truth about figures from the past, from Cromwell to Lincoln. Is
this a mistake? Would it be better to accept that history itself is a fiction? Or would this damage our understanding of who we are and make us prey to fantasists and romantics?

The Panel

BAFTA-winning director of High Fidelity and The Queen Stephen Frears and leading biographers Hermoine Lee and Ray Monk contemplate the limits of life writing.

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Hermione Lee
    The Pitch
    Historical truths are constantly shifting
  • Ray Monk
    The Pitch
    Biographers can present an truthful representation
  • Stephen Frears
    The Pitch
    All biography should just be seen as a form of entertainment
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    Is history fiction?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    The biographer's dilemma
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    Life as myth
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