In Search of the Biographer
The pioneering work in question, The Quest for Corvo (1934), was written by an author who published little else of note. It broke all the rules but established a literary sub-genre of its own by revealing the working of the biographer’s mind as he struggles to uncover and make sense of the scattered fragments of a life. This experimental work demonstrates how the image of any figure portrayed in a biography is not so much a photograph as a portrait in mosaic, reflecting within it something of the portraitist’s own personality and predispositions. As Julian Symons, the crime writer and brother of its author wrote, it blew the gaff on the genre ‘by refusing for a moment to make the customary pretence of detachment’.