'Feel', the biography of Robbie Williams by Chris Heath, has just been published. In researching and writing 'Feel', Heath spent nearly two years working with Robbie Williams.
But, is this a biography? I have to admit to being confused. Looking through newswires and sites, I noticed that some refer to the book as a biography and others as an autobiography.
So I decided to look at the Amazon site and I found:
Feel: Robbie Williams ~ Chris Heath — (Hardcover - September 1, 2004)
Robbie Williams ~ Robbie Williams, Chris Heath — (Paperback - June 2, 2005).
Leaving to one side intuition, the logical conclusion is that there are two books - one is a hardback biography by Chris Heath, and the other is a paperback autobiography written by Robbie Williams in association with Chris Heath.
Those with more energy than me, might investigate further or perhaps just ring the publishers for clarification (who knows I might try this myself), but, whatever, it does raise critical questions about the respective values of biographies and autobiographies.
If I was writing an autobiography, even though I can be annoyingly self-deprecating at times, I can assure you that the book would put me in a positive light. Similarly, if my brother was to write a biography of me then I think and certainly hope that I'd come out well from that too. And I'd also think that if I had an authorised biography where the writer had access to my diaries and papers that the book would not be too damning.
On that last point I might be wrong:
In an article in The Guardian (31 August 2002), JDF Jones poses this question: "What is he[the biographer] to do if he discovers that it [the truth]is anathema to the family that commissioned him?". Jones continues: "Is he to abandon the book - the thought occured to me more than once - since he certainly cannot suppress or delete the facts he had unearthed?"