David Sweetman's biography of Mary Renault was charming, humorous and enlightening. He was a kind and sensitive biographer for a woman that he did not always agree with. She was about as quirky and nerdy as I am, which helped me relate, but had gobs more talent. I'm one of the countless invisible people whose biography won't get written or, if I were to trouble myself with publishing one, it would either remain unread or be rejected due to its irrelevance. At one time that displeased, but I'm not sure it matters to me now. There has been a reduction of ambition and sober reevaluation of possibilities. In life, one finds doors that are opened, and many that are closed.
Mary Renault wanted to be an actor, I think (not an actress), but lacked talent for public speaking. She was no Catherine Tate, but was a serious, sober intellectual scholar. Her life prior to the publication of her bestsellers was impoverished and difficult. She had her partner, Julie, a wonderful and loyal companion, but couldn't count on anyone else.
Her elevated status in later life had everything to do with the indisputable merit of her books. To a large extent, she relied upon her celebrity to attract and maintain friends and acquaintances, and as she got older became pickier about who she chose to spend time with. People would be cut off for one reason or another. On her deathbed, the list of those admitted for an audience with Renault reduced to a handful of intimates. Even those people she still liked were refused an audience, if she didn't like them quite enough. I think Julie admitted this to the biographer as a kind of confession in the hope of salving the wounded feelings of old friends that were still alive.