In Life Class: The Education of a Biographer Brenda Niall 'describes her own life-journey, from childhood in the Melbourne suburb of Kew; her convent education; her brilliantly promising university studies cut short by family tragedy. Her first job, as editor of B.A. Santamaria's Catholic Action journal Rural Life, brought her suddenly and unexpectedly close to the dramatic events of 1954 when ALP leader Dr Evatt attacked Santamaria's Movement and the Australian Labor Party split disastrously. Later, her interviews at Raheen, Kew, with 95-year-old Daniel Mannix, for Santamaria's biography of the Archbishop, were her introduction to life-writing. She resumed her academic career at ANU and at Monash University in the thriving intellectual climate of the 1960s.
'Niall also retraces her literary footsteps to discuss the pleasures of biographical discovery and the pitfalls-technical, personal and moral-of entering other people's lives. Her biographical adventures include travels in England, Scotland and Italy, Austria and Hungary as well as scenes closer to home-in Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Sydney and the Shoalhaven region of NSW.
'Niall's eventful, rich and creative life will fascinate her many confirmed fans and appeal to the growing number of readers interested in life writing. It is a valuable addition to the well-established tradition of eminent literary biographers writing about their craft.' (Publisher's blurb)