Richard Holmes sets out his two rules of biography: following in the footsteps of his subjects and separating the facts from the speculations.
A meditation on the art of biography from a master of the genre. Ranging widely over art, science and poetry, Richard Holmes confesses to a lifetime's obsession with his Romantic subjects - a pursuit and pilgrimage that takes him across three centuries, through much of Europe and into the lively company of many earlier biographers.
In this first episode he sets out his two rules of biography. Firstly, the importance of following in the footsteps of his subjects - where they grew up, where they worked, lived, travelled and died. And secondly, the habit of double entry notekeeping - separating the facts from the speculations.
The diversity of Holmes's material is testimony to his empathy, his erudition and his enquiring spirit - and also sometimes to his mischief. He offers a unique insider's account of a biographer at work, travelling, teaching, researching, fantasising, remembering.
Written by Richard Holmes
Read by Patrick Malahide
Abridged and produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.
You are at the first episode