Everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens. The child-victim, the irrepressibly ambitious young man, the reporter, the demonic worker, the tireless walker. The radical, the protector of orphans, helper of the needy, man of good works, the republican. The hater and the lover of America. The giver of parties, the magician, the traveler.
One of my most vivid memories of the mid-1950s is of crying into a washbasin full of soapy grey baby clothes - there were no washing machines - while my handsome and adored husband was off playing football in the park on Sunday morning with all the delightful young men who had been friends to both of us at Cambridge three years earlier.
Biographers use historians more than historians use biographers, although there can be two-way traffic - e.g., the ever-growing production of biographies of women is helping to change the general picture of the past presented by historians.
I enjoyed the whole process of learning and was always happy when autumn came and school or college started up again.
The book doesn't end when you finish writing it.