History Society Mr Philip Ziegler on Biography

The latest meeting of the History Society welcomed Philip Ziegler (OE), who could hardly have been in a better position to give a talk on writing biography, having penned lives of, among others, William IV, Lord Melbourne, Lord Mountbatten, Edward VIII, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.

His talk explored the many difficulties (as well as enjoyable challenges) that are involved in this art. First up, picking a subject – difficult enough in itself. One must choose a character who is simultaneously interesting, explorable, but not so fast a figure that the biography would become too long and cumbersome.

In response to one of the many pertinent questions asked, Mr Ziegler suggested that it is not the job of the biographer to pass judgement on his subject, though when it came to writing about our own King Edward VIII this was more than a little tricky, finding himself at the same time disapproving and yet worried about the reaction of the Royal archivists.

In addition, Mr Ziegler talked about his many other works, including the latest examination of the life of Edward Heath. Overall, it was a most enjoyable and informative evening.

Dan Chaplin KS