TBC had the chance to chat with many of the attendees of the Compleat Biographer Conference. Here are just a few of their observations.
I thought it was absolutely wonderful–the sessions were all so interesting, and I met so many great fellow biographers. I felt very welcome….Ron Chernow’s talk was just fabulous. The panel discussion that I thought was simply amazing was “Almost Famous: Biographies of Wives, Sisters, Fathers, Lovers of the Famous.” A total must for women’s historians who encounter “black holes” in their research all the time due to the lack of source material about women of past centuries. Natalie Dykstra’s comments about her subject Clover Adams were so helpful to me in thinking about the psychology of my own nineteenth-century female biographical subject.
–Heath Hardage Lee
It was great to mingle with people whose first question is, “Who is your subject?” and to feel part of the biographers’ community. I came away prepared to be more persistent and organized, and better equipped to explore on-line resources. And then there are all those fabulous biographies I’ve learned about, and I’m looking forward to reading…
For me, as a European student of biography, it was an inspiring honor and pleasure to meet and talk with leading biographers and biography theorists at the BIO conference, and to see them in action during lively and thought-provoking panel sessions. And all that amidst the iconic buildings and archives of New York, with their impressive accumulations of human and historical stories. An experience I will not lightly forget!
–Binne de Haan
I enjoyed and profited from the Compleat Biographer Conference because I got to talk serious shop with accomplished people pursuing the same craft and business. Usually, my very tolerant wife has to put up with being my primary interlocutor about such things.
— I’ve sat at English/MLA conferences and thought, “no, that’s not quite what I do.” I’ve sat at American history conferences and thought, “nope, that’s not quite it either.” I listened to the panels at the recent BIO conference and kept thinking “yes, yes, yes, that’s it!” Speaking on a panel, especially with Jean Strouse, was a delight, and going out to dinner with a group later that night happily resulted in new friendships. What could be better!
I left the conference feeling inspired and energized by the panels I attended and the people I met but also humbled by my encounter with greatness in our field. I carried home a head full of ideas to process in the coming weeks.
–I was so pleased to visit the conference. If I ever do plunge more bravely into the waters of biography-writing, I’ll definitely depend on BIO for guidance.