From the start, biography played a vibrant and significant part in the growth of women's history, especially American women's history, as a well-respected and popular field within the historical profession. The insistence of feminist biographers that the personal is political, and that attention must be paid to the daily lives of their subjects as well as to their more public achievements, continues to ripple through the field of biography as a whole. To talk about biography is also to talk about the biographer, for the precise reason that behind every biography lies autobiography—that special spark that draws the biographer to the subject in the first place and the interaction that unfolds as the project moves forward (or stalls, as often happens). As feminist theory reminds us, the personal element is relevant to the broader intellectual agenda.

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