How do leaders become legends, and how does a writer expose the person behind the public face? David Marr has explored the lives of controversial politicians, eminent journalists and literary luminaries. Julia Baird revisited the life of a monarch for Victoria: The Queen, Wilson imagined the life of naturalist George Forster, who travelled with Captain Cook, and Troy Bramston wrote a sweeping biography of Paul Keating. David Marr leads a spirited discussion about why there is no such thing as a definitive biography.

Julia Baird (Australian)

Julia Baird

Julia Baird is a globally renowned author, journalist and broadcaster. She hosts The Drum on ABC TV, and writes columns for The New York Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. After her first book, Media Tarts – which was based on her PhD in history about the portrayal of female politicians – was published in 2005, she moved to the United States to take up a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School. When she was deputy editor of Newsweek in New York, she began work on a major biography of Queen Victoria, which was published in 2016 to critical acclaim. Her most recent book is Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark.

David Marr (Australian)

David Marr

David Marr is a journalist and broadcaster who now writes for Guardian Australia. He’s published a couple of biographies and a number of books about politics, censorship and immigration. Over the last 10 years he has written a number of Quarterly Essays. His latest is The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race. He previously presented Media Watch and appears regularly on Insiders and The Drum. His most recent book is My Country, an anthology of essays.