The Ulster Literary Biography Research Centre

The first research centre in the world to concentrate exclusively on biography as a means of understanding and appreciating the work of literary authors.


We explore the ways in which research into writers’ lives and experiences gives us a unique insight into their writing.

Objectives

Objectives of the centre include:

  • Becoming a hub for the exchange of ideas on literary biography and biographical criticism as tools for research, teaching and critical analysis.
  • Operating as a means of exchange for individuals world-wide to discuss the pragmatics of scholarly biographical research and how we make use of findings, involving: unpublished archives; published and unpublished correspondence; diaries; notebooks; manuscript material; anecdotal, historical and contextual detail; and interviews.
  • Overall, attention will be given to the various ways in which we use evidential and contextual material, along with speculation, as a basis for a portrait of the author and an evaluation of their work, and crucially on the manner in which we justify our methods.
  • Most significantly, we will be a forum for the establishment of literary biography as a recognised field of teaching and research in literary studies.
  • The Centre will encourage exchanges between non-academic literary biographers and trade publishers and their academic counterparts as a means of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between universities and non-academic literary culture, with literary biography as the focus.
  • We will examine the potential for the study of literary biography as a route towards careers in publishing and as a grounding for those who wish to write and publish biographies of authors.

Founded in 2019, the ULBRC will host meetings and conferences as a means of realising its objectives as the single academic research centre dedicated to the study of literary biography.

PhD Programme

We also plan to run a PhD programme focussed on the complexities and opportunities of literary biography.

Publishing Project

The ULBRC is currently host to a major research and publishing project edited by Professor Richard Bradford. ‘The Life of the Author’ is a series of over seventy-five single-authored, peer-reviewed volumes published by Wiley/Blackwell. The volumes will cover all major writers in English, Irish and American literature and the interaction between writers and of literary movements. The books will appeal to undergraduates, academics and non-academic readers alike, translating authors’ lives into gripping narratives that will shed light on their novels, poems and plays.

The first of the series will be released in late 2020, with further releases across the subsequent nine years.

In partnership with the ULBRC, Wiley/Blackwell will also publish several multi-authored volumes on the techniques and objectives of researching and writing literary biography with a view to bringing literary biography closer to the centre of academic literary studies. At present literary biographies are the most popular form of books about writing outside of academia; and yet literary biography is rarely a taught subject in universities. It is one of the objectives of the ULBRC to narrow this divide.

Professor Richard Bradford

Professor Richard Bradford, founder and director of ULBRC, has held university posts in Oxford, (where he completed his doctorate), Wales and Trinity College, Dublin. He has published more than thirty books, including nine acclaimed literary biographies on writers such as Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Alan Sillitoe, John Milton, Martin Amis, Ernest Hemingway, and George Orwell. He edited the Wiley/Blackwell Companion to Literary Biography and is Visiting Professor at the University of Avignon.