By RUTH SCURR
Last night the Royal Society of Literature hosted a celebration of Michael Holroyd’s eightieth birthday at the British Library. Hermione Lee led a panel of biographers – Patrick French, Richard Holmes, Jenny Uglow and me – discussing Holroyd’s work and his influence on our own biographical practice.
There was a high level of consensus: Holroyd is nonpareil. He can do more in a single sentence than lesser writers manage in a whole page. For example, when writing of Winnaretta Singer, one of the many children of the American sewing-machine multibillionaire: “Her first marriage, a distressing experience involving an umbrella, had to be annulled”. . . .