- Editors' Note
Since the last installment of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly was a special issue on Life Writing and Science Fiction, guest-edited by John Rieder, we didn't get the opportunity to observe that Biography had passed into its thirtieth volume. Some perspective: the first issue came out in the Winter of 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. James Callaghan was Prime Minister of the U.K.—Margaret Thatcher was still a year away. It was Trudeau in Canada, and Giscard d'Estaing in France. The music from Grease and Saturday Night Fever topped the popular music charts.
None of these facts seemed to have had an immediate impact on the format or the content of the first issue of Biography. Leon Edel wrote the first piece, "Biography: A Manifesto." A. Owen Aldridge followed with an essay on Voltaire, and Thomas J. Cottle wrote about the assets and liabilities of doing "life study research." Roger Howell, Jr. contributed a piece on Cromwell's personality, and Donald J. Winslow provided the first installment of a "Glossary of Terms in Life Writing." A piece by Robert J. Brink on using Court records, and two book reviews followed. No computers had anything to do with the first issue. It was 96 pages long, and the journal stayed that size for a decade.
Still, the founding principles are very much in evidence thirty years later. The initial cluster of articles was interdisciplinary in scope—history, psychoanalysis, social science, literary studies. The emphasis sits squarely on life writing—although the term auto/biography still lay in the future. And if Woody Allen is right that eighty percent of success is showing up, then we have been successful for one hundred and seventeen consecutive seasons. It's still Spring 2007 as we complete this issue, and that's what it will say on the spine.
Many thanks to George Simson, our founding editor, who led the talented and dedicated group of people who created this journal, and kept it appearing regularly up through his retirement from the editorship, in January of 1994. Though our online readers now greatly outnumber those who actually pick up a copy of Biography, we will still strive to succeed.