The Art of the Author Bio

Here’s a story that will interest anyone who’s ever had to sum up their lives in a few pithy words. It’s about ‘About the Authors’, that section at the front or end of a magazine, journal or anthology, or sometimes a note at the bottom of the front page or at the end of a piece, with a few words summing up the writer’s life.

In the age of the celebrity culture, a good back-story can seriously move product. It makes one wonder how the great writers of long ago would have summarised themselves, like Franz Kafka the office clerk or the bookish Jorge Luis Borges: “Jorge Luis Borges is a bachelor who works as a librarian and lives with his mother.” Borges himself would no doubt have come up with something much cleverer: he once described himself as a reader first, a poet second and a writer of prose third.

Update: reader Felixosaurus drew our attention to this.

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