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Inga Clendinnen on biography

In her essay 'Sketches of the past', published in Moments of being in 1976, Virginia Woolf wrote, 'Biography pretends that a life can be told, when experience teaches us that it cannot. We suppress the knowledge, because we have a need for stories, a need to make sense of lives.'

Is biography an impossible art? Inga Clendinnen reflects on Woolf's uncomfortable insights.

Inga is a noted historian and academic and the author of several award-winning books, including her own memoir, Tiger's eye.

This National Biography Lecture was held on Wednesday 7 November 2007.