Mark Lawson examines the lives of three acclaimed writers as revealed in three major new biographies.
The novelist and playwright Somerset Maugham enjoyed immense literary success and wealth during his lifetime, but as his biographer Selina Hastings reveals, his personal life led to a 2009 newspaper headline describing him as possibly the most debauched man of the 20th century.
John Carey's biography of Nobel Laureate William Golding also attracted headlines, in the light of details discovered in Golding's previously unseen journals. John Carey reflects on whether or not this new information changed his opinion of Golding as a writer.
The complex life of Muriel Spark presented considerable problems for biographer Martin Stannard. He discusses his approach to the novelist still perhaps best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Muriel Spark herself remembers key incidents from her life from a Front Row archive interview recorded in 2004, just two years before she died.