Dawn Powell, perpetually short of money, never quite a success with her novels, wonders if she might have made a different career choice:
It happened that for some reason—perhaps an extraordinary dry decade creatively—there had sprung up on American university campuses, European pastures for grazing scholars, and other academic preserves a ravening horde of cultural necrophiles. Wars, planetary bombings, invasion by Martians and such fears of premature destruction were driving these opportunists into snatching chargers of long-proven might on which to steal quick rides to glory. Intelligent enough to concede their inability to get anywhere without a celebrated mount, and too lazy to take the bellboy’s job for which they were fitted, they rushed to stake claims on the great names of the past, boasted with a genuine sense of a deed accomplished that they were about to write a book on Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, El Greco, or Bach, and dined out with dignity on nifties panned from the richly plummed legends. Some, who had their chance, stalked aging celebrities who might do them the favor of dropping dead and providing juicy material for future memoirs.
Sometimes a subject who had been buying Scotch and steaks for a permanent entourage of doting biographers had the bad taste to live on and on, getting politically or socially de trop and allowing the biographer’s rightful property, you might say, to deteriorate in value, making the once prized treasury of private journals and personal anecdote plain rubbish.
Indeed, fate might have even more in store:
Worse yet, sometimes the subject lived beyond his bad period and betrayed old followers, who had dropped him, by dying in a blaze of new glory, with new riders in at the death.
--Dawn Powell, The Wicked Pavillion 642
In Dawn Powell: Novels 1944-1962