In almost all cases, every work of your favourite author in a way represents part of his autobiography.
The works of a poet for instance reveal his personality and milestones in his professional trajectory.
Therefore, one of the dependable ways of grasping the meaning of printed page is by building a background through a comprehensive study of the author.
Unlike the rare priestly Melchizedek, the regular author like every one of us has antecedent, history, genealogy, inheritance, childhood, likes and dislikes, regrets, disappointments, hopes, aspiration, foible, strength, belief, politics, convictions and so on and so forth which consciously unconsciously creep into his works.
These are the driving forces in his life which he cannot help but brings to the fore as situation demands.
So a proper study of these is the way to go for mere reader or interpreter of printed page or else he will be missing helpful clues that might aid him in understanding the author's attitudes towards his subjects or themes.
For example, John Masefield among British poets had a troubled youth ....... and was for several years sailing around the world.
By knowing this, it becomes instantly clear to you why he writes the way he writes.
He richly brings his experiences on the high sea to bear on his poetry.
Same goes for American Novelist, Ernest Hemingway, who was a volunteer soldier during world war two and was fatally injured and was awarded medal for heroism.
As a hobby, he loves to sail too.
All these and many more significantly influenced his writings as he went on to win the Nobel laureate for literature.
And when you discover that Carl Sandburg laboured his way through the university at all types of menial jobs, that he had Scandinavian roots, that he worked at different times as newspaperman, musician, corn-husker and hobos and that he loves them all at once without prejudice, then you've a deeper grasp of his poems.
Nigerian Novelist, Chinua Achebe was a Biafran true-to-heart who never fails to turn up big time whenever topics concerning the failed republic take centre stage.
And he was a social and political activist in silent kind of way too.
If you’ve ever read his classic: "Things Fall Apart", then you'll know he knows his activism onions.
Finally to the Asiwaju of African literary movement, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, is in a way an iconoclastic, an unrepentant socio-political and cultural activist.
Though raised in a Christian home, all his works later, however, were a direct antithesis of what that represents.
They bore instead extensive signatures of his radical traits; his uncompromising resolves.
He identifies to the max with the course of African cultural heritage.
He is a proud Ogun errand soul.
In case you're still in doubt, you might need to check his poem: "Campus, Ile Ife", from Mandela’s Earth and other poems which opens with the tributary lines:
"When Ogun slammed his anvil forge
Down the flinty earth of Idanre,
Its shock waves burrowed through millennia,
Surfaced in charged outcrops, sinuous
Offsprings, seven-ridge rockhills of Ile-Ife."
So to where should the reader turns in building a background of the author?
In present time, the task is fairly an easy one.
There's abundance of reliable resources both offline and online.
To begin with, the reader might simply turn to the online resource like Wikipedia among others.
If the reader is from a country where records are well kept especially in written forms, then offline resource like the books “Who is who” or "Who is who in America' or similar others from around the world are a sure bet.
And they come handy.
Another resourceful place to look towards for assistance in this regard is the "Library of the Senate of the United State of America."
Here like several others the readers will find dependable solutions to his needs of building a background by a study of notable authors from around the world as you continue in the path of understanding their works.