Category Archives: Publications

Great Biographers/ Grands biographes (2/2)



Editors /Éditeurs:

Joanny MOULIN (Aix Marseille univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, Biography Society)

Hans RENDERS (University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, Biography Institute, History Department)

Published in:


HORS-SÉRIE N°2 (6bis) (2017) ISSN 2261-0871

1 décembre 2017

Contents / Table des matières:

  • Maryam THIRRIARD (Aix Marseille Université), « Harold Nicolson the New Biographer »


  • Marcin ROMANOWSKI (University of Gdańsk), « Jerzy Ficowski and the Biographical Affect »


  • Hans RENDERS (University of Groningen), « Biography as a Correction to History »


  • Hans RENDERS and Binne DE HAAN (University of Groningen), « Richard Holmes: A Biographer-Historian Par Excellence »


  • Béatrice MOUSLI (University of Southern California), « Hermione Lee: Portrait of the Biographer as Biographee »


Moulin, Joanny, Renders, Hans, « Great Biographers », Les Grandes figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts [en ligne], n° 6 (2017), URL :


Direct link to: Les Grandes Figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts

Charles Darwin: a Victorian Mythmaker, by A.N. Wilson

A. N. Wilson
John Murray, 7 September 2017)

Editor’s presentation

Charles Darwin: the man who discovered evolution? The man who killed off God? Or a flawed man of his age, part genius, part ruthless careerist who would not acknowledge his debts to other thinkers?

In this bold new life – the first single volume biography in twenty-five years – A. N. Wilson, the acclaimed author of The Victorians and God’s Funeral, goes in search of the celebrated but contradictory figure Charles Darwin.

Darwin was described by his friend and champion, Thomas Huxley, as a ‘symbol’. But what did he symbolize? In Wilson’s portrait, both sympathetic and critical, Darwin was two men. On the one hand, he was a naturalist of genius, a patient and precise collector and curator who greatly expanded the possibilities of taxonomy and geology. On the other hand, Darwin, a seemingly diffident man who appeared gentle and even lazy, hid a burning ambition to be a universal genius. He longed to have a theory which explained everything.

But was Darwin’s 1859 master work, On the Origin of Species, really what it seemed, a work about natural history? Or was it in fact a consolation myth for the Victorian middle classes, reassuring them that the selfishness and indifference to the poor were part of nature’s grand plan?

Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker is a radical reappraisal of one of the great Victorians, a book which isn’t afraid to challenge the Darwinian orthodoxy while bringing us closer to the man, his revolutionary idea and the wider Victorian age.

Biographical Notes

A. N. Wilson was born in North Staffordshire, and taught literature for seven years at New College Oxford, where he won the Chancellor’s English Essay Prize and the Ellerton Prize. He is the author of over twenty novels, and as many works of non-fiction. His biography of Tolstoy won the Whitbread Prize in 1988. His biography of Queen Victoria was published to critical acclaim. He is also the author of The Victorians and of God’s Funeral, an account of how the Victorians lost their faith. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He lives in London, and is the father of three daughters.

Publication: Dumas fils ou l’Anti-Oedipe Marianne Schopp, Claude Schopp


Éditions Phébus  (4 May 2017)


Presentation des Editions Phebus:

“On connaît La Dame aux camélias, l’histoire d’une courtisane abandonnée, qui inspira La Traviata. Mais qui se souvient de son auteur, Alexandra Dumas fils ? Ce fut pourtant l’un des plus célèbres dramaturges de son temps, aussi illustre que son père, le créateur des Trois Mousquetaires.

Tout le poussait à détester son géniteur : sa naissance hors mariage, leurs rivalités d’écrivains, leurs caractères opposés…. Mais l’enfant indigne se révéla un anti-Œdipe : protecteur de son paternel, cet « enfant qu’il eut tout petit ».

À partir de correspondances inédites, Marianne et Claude Schopp nous offrent la première biographie d’Alexandre Dumas fils. Un véritable roman, riche en rebondissements pour raconter une personnalité complexe, tour à tour défenseur des filles perdues et pourfendeur de la dissolution des mœurs. L’une des incarnations les plus clinquantes de la France artiste et bourgeoise de Napoléon III.

Claude Schopp est l’un des plus grands spécialistes d’Alexandre Dumas. On lui doit de nombreuses éditions critiques et la découverte d’œuvres inconnues du romancier. C’est notamment à lui que l’on doit d’avoir sorti de l’oubli Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine. Il est le responsable des Cahiers Dumas.

An eminent expert in Alexandre Dumas studies, Claude Schopp has published numerous critical studies and has brought to the fore several unknown works by Dumas. He is in charge of the Cahiers Dumas.

María Teresa del Olmo Ibáñez: Teoría de la Biografía

Published by Dykinson (2015) –

Author’s presentation:

The goal of this work consists in reaching a complete understanding of Biography as a literary genre. Among the relevant difficulties of this research, is the insufficient number of previous theoretical studies focusing on the poetological questions of Biography. Its limits have not been established, whether it concerns its poetic starting points or the doctrinal knowledge relating to its genre, making this study necessary. Perhaps, one of the possible causes of the ambiguity surrounding the technical knowledge of the biographical genre might be its own essayistic nature. This fact results in a wide range of sub-categories, which go from rigid historical, scientific or clinical types to taking huge freedom in dealing with documental information.

The main aim of the book is to define Biography as a literary genre. This would concretize in locating it inside the General Literary Genres System, in assessing the state of the art, and in proposing a new poetic and rhetoric perspective. Four main points are developed in the book: determining Biography’s place inside the General Genres System, theoretically synthesizing the category of character and its evolution, the origin and evolution of Biography, and a taxonomic proposal for biographical sub-genres. Furthermore, four more issues related to Biography and its history have been taken into account: Saint-Beuve’s biographical method; biography, hagiography and exemplary lives as pedagogical writings; biography and exemplary lives as pedagogical tools; and, the role played by biography in its relationship with Historiography and Education.

Also, the book tries to describe a modern stage for biography, including a selection of the most relevant American and European biographers; and a section of Spanish ones, who have not yet been recognized as such, though these authors have developed their own biographical paradigms as well as a biographical theory in both explicit or implicit ways. In terms of method, this work adopts a literary perspective: a poetological and doctrinal analysis, and the critical analysis of the books by these selected authors. Chronologically, the research covers biography from its origins to the mid XXth century. Biographical and autobiographical digital creations are also mentioned.

In terms of content, the book presents two main sections. The first part focuses on critical, taxonomic and general poetical issues in biography. It includes an overall view of the state of the arts, a definition of the essayistic nature of Biography, its relationship with Historiography and Education, and with literary genres (autobiography, confessions, novel); it tries to describe the evolution of the genre since its origins, following continuity lines up to the XXth century. This is one of the criteria that has been applied in order to propose a taxonomy as complete as possible, including Biography of nations, with special consideration given to the Bible considered as Jewish biography.

In an alternative to common forms of classification, a thematic basis has been chosen to analyze modern biography, concluding in a paradigmatic definition for each one of the biographers in question. XXth century authors André Maurois, Lewis Mumford, Emil Ludwig and Stefan Zweig appear as the main international representatives for that period, special focus is given to their theoretical reflection about Biography. Four other Spanish writers are separately
considered since their biographical contributions have not received the attention they deserve:  Eugenio d’Ors, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Gregorio Marañón and María Zambrano. Their work as biographers has scarcely been studied and their important thoughts about biography have been ignored although the value of their works is widely acknowledged in other literary fields. The book also contains considerations about Saint-Beuve, biography of cities, fictional biography, Biobibliography and, briefly, XXI digital biographies.

Literature on Biography has been analysed from different points of view: philosophical
perspectives, disciplinary location, theories according to biographical subjects, poetological and methodological theories, and character theories related to biography. The second part establishes a constructive proposal for Biography as a literary genre, according to classical poetic and rhetoric criteria. Following Aristotle’s procedure in defining Tragedy, and rhetorical resources, biography components and methods are established in contrast with Aristotelic conclusions for dramatic elements and characters. That way, differences between fictional characters and real people, their actions and rhetorical resources become evident and allow conclusions concerning Biography from a literary theory perspective. At the end of the book there are two schema proposals, which intend to reflect how character is created in biography according to its components and features; and, on the other hand, biography sub-genres and category taxonomy, also indicating the lines of continuity between them up to the XXth century.



Great Biographers/Grands Biographes

We are very happy to announce the publication of part one of “Great Biographers” in the e-journal Les Grandes Figures historiques dans la littérature et les arts (N°6 2017)

The publication of part two (N°6 bis 2017) is scheduled for October 2017.


Greats Biographers/ Grands biographes


Editors: Joanny Moulin & Hans Renders

Joanny Moulin (Aix Marseille univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence, Biography Society)

Hans Renders (Groningen University,Faculty of Arts, Biography Institute, History Department)



Tobias Heinrich (New College, University of Oxford), “Friedrich Schlichtegroll’s Nekrolog. Enlightenment Biography”

Nikol Dziub (Université de Haute-Alsace), “Washington Irving biographe, ou la fabrique des mythes américains”

Damien Fortin (Université de Lorraine), “Eloge et élégie. La critique biographique de Sainte Beuve

Christopher Griffin (Institut Catholique de Rennes), “‘I should like to see our young officers read all your volumes’: Theodore Ayrault Dodge and American Military Biography”

Joanny Moulin (Aix Marseille univ, LERMA, Aix-en-Provence), “André Maurois, or the Aesthetic Advantage of Biography over the Novel”

Journal website: Les Grandes Figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts (Université Lille 3)