Talking to the Dead

Talking to the Dead

Travels of a Biographer

Sarah LeFanu


'Talking to the Dead' is based on the journals the author kept while researching and writing 'Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War' (Hurst & Co, 2020).

First edition

  • ISBN 9781800422629
  • Published Oct 2023
  • Paperback
    216 x 140mm (222 pages)


In 2020 the former Women’s Press editor and literary critic Sarah LeFanu published her group biography of three British writers and their travels to South Africa in the closing days of the Victorian era, Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War, which was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography.

Talking to the Dead: Travels of a Biographer is a journal that covers the five years (2015–2020) of her research and writing, taking her from libraries and archives in England to old battle sites in South Africa, and recording her conversations with the living and the dead. Talking to the Dead is about South Africa then and now, about Britain then and now, about imperialism and the beginning of its end, about the biographical process, and also, intertwined with these subjects, about the experience of living with the painful chronic condition polymyalgia rheumatica.

For life writers, for lovers of historical biography, for all readers of Rudyard Kipling, Mary Kingsley and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Praise for Something of Themselves:

‘a splendidly well-written page-turner … a classic’ – Jan Montefiore

‘brilliantly insightful’ – Lara Feigel

‘highly original, thought-provoking … sensitive, multi-layered’ – Saul David

“If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I hope you don't go at it alone. With a team like SilverWood behind you, you have the support you need to publish the best work you believe in.”

J A Higgins