Craig Brown: The Slippery Art of Biography

In One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time, Craig Brown gathered a kaleidoscopic mix of letters, news reports, diaries and much more besides into a brilliantly quirky not-quite-biography of the most successful pop group ever. It won him the prestigious Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. To celebrate that success, the Book Festival commissioned a follow-up text from Brown, reflecting on his book – and his writing process – a year after it was published. The result is a meditation not just on The Beatles but on the nature of biography itself. What should a biographer include in their subject, and what should they leave out? ‘Day-to-day biographical details, falling like heavy snow, can often blot out the subject,’ argues Brown. ‘And what is lost is the art.’ In this event, filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Brown discusses his penetrating, surprising, often hilarious views on biography with the Guardian's associate editor for culture Claire Armitstead.

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