Can biography and autobiography tell us the truth about an individual? These currently popular literary genres are widely supposed to illuminate the study of the individual and her or his personal circumstances. Missing Persons suggests that biography and autobiography are, in fact, based on fictions, both about the person and about what is possible to know about any one individual.

This study is organised into chapters which consider particular kinds of auto/biographical writing, such as work on the British royal family, George Orwell, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. She explores how individuals have acted to construct themselves, using case studies to highlight the different choices made and the social influences involved, and demonstrates the absences and evasions--indeed, the missing persons--of biography and autobiography.

Missing Persons


London and New York, 1999

ISBN 0 415 09976 5