This classic series, offering fascinating accounts of the literary careers of the most admired and influential English-language authors, has established itself as a major contribution to literary biography. The volumes follow the outline of the writers' working lives, not in the spirit of traditional biography, but aiming to trace the professional, publishing and social contexts that shaped their writing. 'John Barrell has observed acutely...that the so-called literary biography seems now to have become markedly less "literary", subordinating or virtually ignoring the work of the writer concerned, except insofar as it can be made to mirror the ups and downs, pleasures, pains and supposed secrets of his or her personal existence. This observation seems regrettably true, although the balance is...redressed by such excellent studies in the accurately titled Literary Lives series published by Palgrave as Michael O'Neill's Percy Bysshe Shelley (1989) or Caroline Franklin's Byron (2000).' - Anne Barton, London Review of Books Series founded by Richard Dutton.