Ever since James Boswell wrote what many consider to be the first modern biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson, in 1791, biographies have helped us gain insight into people’s lives, allowing us to observe them as they grapple with crises and make important decisions. Biographies capture history through an account of events based upon people’s lives and can lead us to greater understanding of time and place. Enlightening, inspiring and entertaining, these are some of  the best biographies published in 2021.

Known for her brilliant biographies of writers Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton, in Tom Stoppard: A Life Hermione Lee takes on one of the greatest living playwrights. A towering literary figure, Stoppard is recognised for his narrative inventiveness and intense attention to language. His works incorporate art, science, history, politics and philosophy and span the genres of theatre, radio, film, TV, journalism and fiction. His most acclaimed creations — Rosencrantz and Guil...

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