William Feaver longlist author interview
William Feaver author of The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame gives us insight into the incredible character of Lucian Freud.
What does it feel like to be longlisted?
What is your favourite non-fiction book and why?
This varies from day to day, time to time. Currently ‘Literary Britain’ subtitled ‘Photographed by Bill Brandt’. Published in 1951. It consists of double spreads, every other page a moody Bill Brandt photograph reflecting in alphabetical order a fitting quotation from great writers: Austen to Wordsworth with Thackeray, George Eliot, Jonathan Swift and a splendid multitude of others in between.
How did you conduct your research?
By word of mouth, largely, Freud being my main informant with, where possible, corroboration or correction from those witnessing or involved in his phenomenally active life. For this second volume my memories, sustained by notes scribbled at the time, were constant prompts. As were letters, press cuttings and, of course, the paintings themselves.
In part two if the biography, readers gain insight into your relationship with Freud, what different aspects of Freud does this allow you to show that weren’t included in part one?
Freud’s wit and perseverance, his intense devotion to the work and his complicated dealings, survived into old age. For me therefore, witnessing the intensity of his working practice over decades, there was pleasure and wonder at such matter of fact accomplishment. Phenomenal behaviour sweetened (and occasionally soured) the heady mix.
What are you working on next?
Not yet ready to say