Biographer and New Yorker columnist Judith Thurman delivered the Michael King Memorial Lecture. She stood at the lectern and mostly read from her notes, in contrast with the usual Writers and Readers relaxed format of Q and A with an interlocutor. In my experience, biographers feed their audience’s curiosity for the lowdown on their subject, but Thurman vouchsafed not a jot of tittle tattle. Or perhaps she just assumed we had all read her books on Colette and Isak Dinesen, since they were published some time ago. Instead, she spoke about the search to capture the true essence of her subjects, which she said seemed more difficult the more documentation existed. She found Colette particularly elusive.