Interview with longlisted author William Feaver
William Feaver speaks to us about the research that helped him to write his longlisted book, The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth.
What does it feel like to be longlisted?
What inspired you to write this book?
The book began as a brief monograph but the more Lucian talked and the more I explored, the more biographical I felt the book had to be: a book that relayed Freud's style and wit and associations besides being as true a portrait as I could contrive. One way and another Lucian himself was the inspiration.
How do you research?
Primarily, Freud speaking, daily conversations over months and years. One of the first times I met him, he had the keys to each house where one of his paintings was hanging, and took me on an impromptu tour of them. Other vital sources: people he was involved with. I owed a great deal to weekly conversations with his friend Frank Auerbach. Double checking all along.
You knew Lucian Freud very well. How easy was it to convey his personality and character on the page?
Thanks to countless hours of conversation, collaboration on exhibitions, studio knowledge and contributions from his friends (and enemies) I had a unique body of material. He once quipped that this would be the ‘first funny art book’. His voice (skittering allusions, penetrating asides etc) resounds, I hope, throughout.
What is your favourite non-fiction book and why?
Private View which is a selection of catchy photographs by Brian Robertson, John Russell and Lord Snowdon. A brilliant time capsule of the British art scene in the early Sixties, fascinating for me then and since.
What are you working on next?
Too early to disclose.
What is an unknown fact about you?
Henri Cartier-Bresson appointed me (briefly) his official photographer.