Paula Byrne talks to Matthew Stadlen
From Beatrix Potter to the Kennedys: Writing About Famous Lives
Friday 14 October 2016
Blenheim Palace, The OrangeryVenue
Biographers Paula Byrne and Matthew Dennison discuss the art of writing biography and of tackling the lives of the famous and their families.
Byrne’s most recent work, Kick, tells the story of Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, the vivacious and clever sister of JFK who charmed the English aristocracy but was almost erased from her family history. Kathleen arrived in England in 1938 where her wit, aloofness and sexual charisma fascinated the British. The Catholic Kennedys disapproved of her marriage in 1944 to Britain’s most eligible bachelor, William ‘Billy’ Cavendish, heir to the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth and an Anglican. Billy died shortly after the marriage in combat and Kick four years later in a plane crash. Byrne is author of a number of biographical works including Jane Austen and the Theatre, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead.
Dennison’s Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter looks at the many facets of the character of one of the world’s best-loved authors – the repressed Victorian daughter, the thwarted lover, the artistic genius and the formidable countrywoman. He charts her life from a young girl in love with fairy tales and animals into a bestselling author and canny businesswoman. The book marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter. Dennison is a journalist and author of a number of biographies including of Vita Sackville-West; Livia, Empress of Rome; and Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Princess Beatrice.
Here they talk to journalist and former BBC producer Matthew Stadlen, who is a regular interviewer for the Daily Telegraph and has interviewed for the BBC.