Andrew Lycett

Permission Granted

Quoting is not all it’s cracked up to be. As a biographer, I’ve tended to make a fetish of the ipsissima verba. How better to get the authentic voice of a character than through his or her own words?

But after writing my recent life of Arthur Conan Doyle, I’m not so sure. Having been denied permission to quote significant amounts of his own words which happened to be under copyright, I had to go back through my text and paraphrase – all this at the eleventh hour when other pieces of revision were more pressing. 

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