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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other certified bibliophiles.

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Jan 19, 2009

Biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist Victoria Glendinning was born in Sheffield, and educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern Languages. She worked as a teacher and social worker before becoming an editorial assistant for the Times Literary Supplement in 1974.

President of English PEN, she was awarded a CBE in 1998. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton, Ulster, Dublin and York. Her biographies include Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer, 1977; Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn Among Lions (1981), which won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography) and the Duff Cooper Prize; and Rebecca West: A Life (1987), and Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West (1983) and Trollope (1992) both of which won the Whitbread Biography Award.

We talk here ostensibly about her latest book, Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941- 1973 but in fact, mostly about the nature of biography, the difference between editing letters and writing lives, fabricating dialogue, compiling data, selecting facts; the importance of place, material and familial limitations, life over art, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Sissinghurst, and text versus context.