Can the art of life-writing be taught? And what do students hope to achieve in pursuit of their subjects? Richard Holmes explores how we chronicle the lives of others.
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 third extract, we hear how Richard Holmes contemplated the ways in which the art of biography can be taught. Through his students, he began to see the value that we can all derive from being immersed in "Another person, another time, another place."
The diversity of Holmes's material is testimony to his empathy, his erudition and his enquiring spirit - and also sometimes to his mischief.
Written by Richard Holmes
Read by Patrick Malahide
Abridged and produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.