Biography, vol. 22, no. 3 (1999)

Editor’s Note, p. iii


Virginia Woolf, Leslie Stephen, Julia Margaret Cameron, and the Prince of Abyssinia: An Inquiry into Certain Colonialist Representations, p. 323
Panthea Reid

Only a fragment of Virginia Woolf’s 1940 account of the 1910 “Dreadnought Hoax” has survived. Her brother Adrian Stephen has little to say about her involvement. Thus her masquerade as a prince of Abyssinia has been open to wildly varied readings. However, a chain of connections between the political journalism of her father, Leslie Stephen, the photography of her great-aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron, nineteenth-century Anglo-Abyssinian history, and Virginia’s 1910 work on her first novel, The Voyage Out, provides documentary evidence for the reasons behind her disguise. This evidence suggests that Virginia was aware of ways in which Abyssinians had been well- and mis-represented in words and images (some of which are reproduced here). The Abyssinian disguise which she and others adopted, then, can be read as a protest against colonialist stereotypes of Africans and as an expression of solidarity with a princely victim of English imperialism.

“Simple Words”: Peter Ackroyd’s Autobiography of Oscar Wilde, p. 356
Joe Moran

This article discusses Peter Ackroyd’s fictionalized autobiography, The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde. It suggests that the text opens up significant questions about biographical and autobiographical interpretation, and more specific issues concerning the relationship between Wilde’s own self-fashioning as a celebrated public figure and the social construction of sexualities in late nineteenth-century Britain.

Biography, Rhetoric, and Intellectual Careers: Writing the Life of Hannah Arendt, p. 370
Steven Weiland

Elizabeth Young-Bruehl’s biography of political philosopher Hannah Arendt is considered for its formal or rhetorical qualities. The design of the argument and elements of Young-Bruehl’s own role in her text illustrate characteristic problems in and dimensions of intellectual biography. Arendt’s own views about biography are incorporated into an account of her biographer’s efforts to find a form suitable for representing her life and unusual scholarly career. Young-Bruehl’s book is an example of resistance to some trends in biographical inquiry as well as a model for how the work may be done and the form itself made a subject of reflection.


Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader, edited by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, p. 399
Cynthia Franklin

Writing the Lives of Writers, edited by Warwick Gould and Thomas F. Staley, p. 406
Ruth Hoberman

Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity, by Crispin Sartwell, p. 409
Katya Gibel Azoulay

How Do We Know Who We Are? A Biography of the Self, by Arnold Ludwig, p. 416
William Todd Schultz

The Face of Exile: Autobiographical Journeys, by Judith M. Melton, p. 421
Marilyn C. Wesley

Memories Cast in Stone: The Relevance of the Past in Everyday Life, by David E. Sutton, p. 423
Tim Megarry

Excerpts from recent reviews of biographies, autobiographies, and other works of interest

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