Famous authors have a lot of stories to tell, but sometimes, their own stories are as intriguing as their fiction. You can learn more about writing and storytelling by reading biographies of famous authors, compared to their fiction. Here are some biographies and autobiographies of famous authors, in no particular order.
Shakespeare: The Biography – Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd embarked on a journey to bring us all a different version of Shakespeare, one that people can easily connect with. It is difficult to immerse oneself in a world where your poet is a mystical figure, relate and connect with him. Peter Ackroyd makes William Shakespeare seem like a normal man who lived his own life, by bridging the gaps between then and now, through some marvelous writing. Even though every biographical work about Shakespeare involves a lot of speculation, this one is a great read and will keep you seated for a while.
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography – Humphrey Carpenter
This is a biography made by a man who had access to all of Tolkien’s letters and essays. Not only that, but Carpenter had his family and friends interviewed, to help us understand what kind of a man Tolkien had been. This biography follows Tolkien from his birth in South Africa, his orphanage, the losses of his friends in the First World War, his meetings with the “Inklings” and the process of creating The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. If you ever wanted to know more about your probably favorite high fantasy author, this is the book many swear by.
The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury – Sam Weller
Some of the best biographical books come from people who had actual interviews with the subjects of the books. In this case, Sam Weller had a pretty long talk with Ray Bradbury, one of science fiction’s best writers of the 20th century. His most famous novel is Fahrenheit 451, yet he had a much more interesting life, which included more than just writing. 91 years of life filled with some of the most intriguing stories, almost as those of his books. Ray Bradbury will be remembered in the days to come and this biography does him justice.
Virginia Woolf – A Biography – Quentin Bell
Biographies better than those which come from interviews are those which come from family members. Yes, Quentin Bell had a lot of knowledge about his aunt’s life and this book tells stories about it, in detail. Over 400 pages long, it describes the obstacles in her daily life, how her mind worked and what made her tick, while also giving attention to the group of intellectuals she hanged out with, called the Bloomsbury group.
These are some of the most interesting biographies of authors from the past, all of which can teach you something new. All of them can provide you with details of the authors’ lives, especially the obstacles they faced on their journey to writing and publishing the books we enjoy today.