Book: Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present

Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present

Encyclopedia of

British Writers,

1800 to the Present

Second Edition

20th Century and Beyond


Encyclopedia of

British Writers,

1800 to the Present

Second Edition

20th Century and Beyond


Dr. George Stade

Dr. Karen Karbiener

General Editor

General Editor

Professor Emeritus Department of

Liberal Studies Program

English and Comparative Literature

New York University

Columbia University

Dr. Karen H. Meyers

Dr. Thomas Recchio



Department of Continuing Education

Department of English

Bowling Green State University

University of Connecticut, Storrs

Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Second Edition

20th Century and Beyond

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Encyclopedia of British writers, 1800 to the present / general editors, Karen Karbiener, George Stade.—2nd ed.

p. cm.

Rev. ed. of: Encyclopedia of British writers, 19th and 20th centuries. 2003.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8160-7385-6 (v. 1 : alk. paper) 1. English literature—19th century—Bio-bibliography—Dictionaries. 2. English literature—20th century—Bio-bibliography—Dictionaries. 3. Authors, English—19th century—Biography—Dictionaries. 4. Authors, English—20th century—Biography—

Dictionaries. I. Karbiener, Karen, 1965– II. Stade, George. III. Encyclopedia of British writers, 19th and 20th centuries.

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Note to the New Edition




Authors’ Time Line


Entries A to Z


Selected Bibliography






The articles in this encyclopedia are designed to

Typically, the articles tell the reader about the

introduce the student or general reader to Brit-

writer’s background, parents, education, private

ish writers who in the editors’ opinion deserve to

life, and, above all, his or her writing. They also

be read and studied. The articles vary in length,

provide critical responses and suggestions for

from a few hundred to more than a thousand

further reading. Cross-references are indicated

words, according to the editors’ understanding of

by small capital letters. Readers should

an individual writer’s present or potential impor-

have no trouble finding the writers they need to

tance. The relative value of these writers continues

read, whether traditional or avant-garde, classi-

to be a matter of debate, but the editors have tried

cist or extremist, highbrow or lowbrow, obvious

to arrive at a consensual ranking by considering

or arcane, minimalist or maximalist, imperial-

such matters as the size of the writer’s readership,

ist or anti-imperialist, feminist or misogynist,

the quality of the critical and academic interest,

homophobic or homophiliac, writers whose

and the writer’s impact on other writers. There is

politics are on the left, the right, the center, or

nothing stable about rankings based on such cri-

beyond the pale. Finally, despite a number of

teria. During their own era, for example, Marie

movements, mostly short-lived, in which like-

Corelli had a much larger readership than Joseph

minded writers came together, the writers

Conrad (although Corelli is largely forgotten now),

appearing in this volume, in accordance with

and 43 publishers rejected Samuel Beckett’s first

the modernist injunction to “make it new,” have

novel. The editors hope that the readers of this

been more likely to cultivate their differences

volume will participate in this constant process

than their similarities. The result is an exciting,

of reevaluation. There is something very satisfy-

unpredictable medley of voices—and the like-

ing in discovering just the writer one needs and

lihood that you will find a writer who speaks

telling the world about him or her.

directly to you.


Note to the

New Edition


In the first decades of the 20th century, British

Arundhati Roy and Diran Adebayo provide new

writers made significant contributions to the

ways to understand what being British means.

developing cultural movement known as mod-

And the wild popularity of children’s literature

ernism. Novels such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of

indicates a new reading genre for adults: Consider

Darkness (1902) and James Joyce’s Portrait of the

not only J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but

Artist as a Young Man (1916), even single poems

also Sue Townsend’s best-selling books featur-

such as “The Second Coming” by William Butler

ing Adrian Mole. For many readers, the fun in

Yeats (1920), were literary experiments that shaped

perusing this new edition will be in encountering

a new and progressive understanding of the role of

authors for the first time, although their work may

art in a changing, industrialized world. Although

be quite familiar. Popular films like Trainspotting

the importance of these early 20th-century con-

and Atonement are based, after all, on exceptional

tributions is widely recognized, we are still only

novels by Irvine Welsh and Ian McEwan—authors

coming to appreciate how British writers influ-

with interesting life stories as well as other equally

enced the cultural landscape in recent decades.

important writings. Other readers will be pleased

This new edition adds more than 60 entries on

to see J. M. Coetzee’s difficult novel Disgrace and

authors who have emerged as vital forces in British

Terry Pratchett’s dauntingly complex Discworld

literature. The majority of these writers were born

series introduced and discussed in comprehensible

after midcentury; almost al of them published

terms. And everyone—including the editors—can

notable books and col ections in the 1980s, 1990s,

delight in the fascinating facts and details included

or the new century and continue to affect the trends

in these entries. Do you know which author is hon-

and direction of literary history today. It is a guide

ored by a celebratory “Towel Day”? Or which author

to an exciting period of British writing—altogether,

has earned the title “patron saint of bookworms”?

more than 100 years of literature that demand your

We hope that you find as much edification and

active attention.

enjoyment in these pages as we did.

Learning about the birthplaces and literary

genres of the 60 writers added to this volume is in

George Stade

itself a lesson in contemporary globalist thought.

Karen Karbiener

Authors with names as un-British sounding as

General Editors




From where we stand, it is hard to see clearly the

same. A year later Arnold Schoenberg published

shape of British literary history since 1900. Cer-

his theory of harmony, and three years later Igor

tainly we are not able to see the writers as spread

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was performed to

out neatly in historical space according to some

rioting audiences; music too had changed. Three

transcendent master plan. We perhaps know too

years before, Picasso had shown his Demoisel es

much about them, or too little, and in any case

d’Avignon, and two years later Marcel Duchamp

what we think we know about them does not

exhibited his Nude Descending a Staircase, both

always jibe with what they thought about them-

evidence that painting had changed. Four years

selves. The result is that the closer we look at the

later World War I began, and nothing at all was

writers of the last century, the more they seem

ever the same.

to be in motion, changing places and shifting

As a reaction to the establishment that had


drawn them into the war, young English men

For all that, certain landmarks appear to have

and women, like their European and American

held their ground. World War I, for example,

counterparts, cut loose. As women threw off their

accelerated a process, whereas World War II

stays, artists threw off forms and conventions. By

put a brake on it. That process has come to be

1922, the year of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and

called “modernism.” Although hints and pre-

James Joyce’s Ulysses, modernism had become

monitions of modernist styles and attitudes

established. At the time, although its practitio-

began to appear in the 1880s and 1890s among

ners were united by their interest in experimen-

aesthetes, Decadents, and symbolists, by around

tation, cultural relativism, and the workings of

1910, when, according to Virginia Woolf, “human

the unconscious, modernism seemed like a break

nature changed,” modernism had become self-

with all traditions.

conscious and argumentative. Although Woolf

Of course, Eliot and Joyce, authors of the

was alluding to an exhibition of “postimpres-

exemplary texts of British modernism, were not

sionist” paintings by artists such as Cézanne,

English but in one case American and in the other

van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso, 1910

Irish. It would not be an exaggeration to say that

was also the year of Ezra Pound’s imagist mani-

the great English literature of the modernist era

festo, after which poetry in English was never the

was written mainly by Irishmen, Americans, a


xii Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present

Welshman, and a Pole. If one were to construct

Spanish and Portuguese must be something like

a model of what was considered the prevailing

the Irishman’s or American’s relation to English

type of Briton—someone who openly qualified

during the days of James Joyce and Ezra Pound.

for membership in the caste that set the styles,

But the resentful love and reciprocated hate that

determined the values, and wielded the power

modernist writers feel toward their own countries

that showed the world just what it meant to be

were especially keen among English moderns,

British—he would be English, male, middle-class,

perhaps because in the period just prior to the

Protestant, and heterosexual. However, by these

onset of modernism, England was by many stan-

criteria, none of the great modernists qualified. If

dards the greatest nation in the world, master of

the writers were not American or Polish or from

an empire on which the sun never set. Its decline,

one of John Bull’s other islands, they were Catho-

or perhaps appearance of decline, was that much

lics (usually by conversion rather than by birth),

more dramatic.

as were Ford Madox Ford, Evelyn Waugh, and

The decline of nations may be likened to

Graham Greene; or from the working class, like

the decline of fathers, at least to boys and girls

D. H. Lawrence; or were women, like Virginia

growing up. The children of discredited fathers

Woolf and Katherine Mansfield (who was born in

and fatherlands seem both more free and more

New Zealand); or homosexual, like E. M. Forster

driven to do unheard-of things—and to imagine

and W. H. Auden.

compensatory worlds more attractive—than are

Although the prevailing type in actuality still

solid citizens assured of their succession. A sur-

prevailed, he seemed somehow to have outlived

prising number of great writers—among them

his historical moment. The ideas, values, and

Shakespeare, Dickens, and Joyce, to name three

practices that constituted his typicality and

of Britain’s greatest—had fathers whose fortunes

guaranteed his prevalence no longer seemed

declined as the sons were growing up. Similarly,

those from which anything of moment could be

Western modernists born near the end of the 19th

written. When he appeared in modernist fiction,

century clearly felt that their fatherlands were

it was as a figure of fun. To write anything new

coming down in the world, that the very principle

seemed to require at least the adversary edge of

of authority had compromised itself, that their

Irishmen or Americans trying to cut themselves

release from filial piety had only delivered them

loose from the cultural imperialism of a mother

into the anxious compulsions of a world whose

country whose language was the one they had

center no longer held, and that the aesthetic order

perforce to use. Or, it required the implacable

of their work would have to compensate for the

antagonisms of class conflict, the cool refusals

actual chaos of the world their fiction represented.

of feminist resentment, the satirical disenchant-

During the modernist period, although fathers,

ments of homosexuality, a hatred of the present

fatherlands, principles of authority, and conven-

and a nostalgia for the past, or a burden of guilt,

tions and traditions were still there, they were

deep enough to drive one into the arms of the

discredited. The insistent presence of these sym-

church. The modernists saw themselves as on the

bols, and the itch to subvert them, is one thing

margin of the literary world, their exile no less

that distinguishes modernist literature from what

real for being inside themselves.

followed it.

Analogies could be drawn wherever advanced

The most common general characteristic of

Western civilization had taken a firm enough hold

the modernist writers, then, was an adversarial

for its modernist writers to tear it apart. Latin

or alienated relationship to their own cultures.

American writers, for example, seem to have been

The most general common characteristic of their

in a modernist phase for at least the last quarter

writing was an inverse relation between the ren-

of the last century. Their self-perceived relation to

dered aesthetic order and the represented chaos.

Introduction xiii

The more disordered the world represented, the

Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis, George Orwell, and

more ordered the rendering of the work. It is in

Rex Warner . . . found ways of holding in ten-

this respect that The Waste Land and Ulysses are

sion political and literary demands,” says Tyrus

exemplary, but so are the novels of Ford, Conrad,

Miller, author of a book on what he calls “Late

Woolf, Forster, and Waugh. The very techniques


used to represent a world of dissolving appear-

Writers who came into prominence in England

ances and crumbling institutions are also the

after World War II were polemically antimodern-

techniques that bind part to part with an unprec-

ist: “For me the highest point of literature was

edented adhesive force.

the novel of the nineteenth century. . . . I hold the

These techniques are not simply those of 19th-

view that the realist novel, the realist story, is the

century writers brought up to date. British mod-

highest form of prose writing; higher than and

ernists did not look toward their immediate past.

out of reach of any comparison with expression-

Rather, they looked around at new situations call-

ism, symbolism, naturalism, or any other ism,”

ing for new practices, or they looked toward the

said Doris Lessing in 1957. Contemporaries like

literature of France, America, and Russia. They

John Wain, John Braine, Angus Wilson, Kingsley

looked at postimpressionist painting, Russian

Amis, and Iris Murdoch would have agreed about

ballet, Chinese ideograms, Japanese drama, Afri-

the realistic novel. Poets like John Betjeman and

can masks, and American movies. They looked

Philip Larkin, who wrote in rhymed stanzas,

toward psychology, anthropology, and physics.

seemed to agree that the age of experiment was,

“We are sharply cut off from our predecessors,”

or should be, over.

said Virginia Woolf. “. . . Every day we find our-

Just as the revulsion against the establishment

selves doing, or saying, or thinking things that

that followed World War I justified artists in their

would have been impossible to our fathers.” As

search for foreign models, so the chastened patri-

a result, she continued, “No age can have been

otism that followed World War II encouraged

more rich than ours in writers determined to give

writers to choose English themes, English char-

expression to the differences which separate them

acters, English settings, sentiments, and tech-

from the past and not to the resemblances which

niques. Befitting the literature of an empire that

connect them with it.”

had shrunk radically, large ambitions and world-

In the late 1920s and through the 1930s, mod-

historical themes were considered bad form.

ernism began to tire of its own success. As part of

This went on until the 1970s: “It was axiom-

their sustained polemic against Victorianism, the

atic in Britain that interesting novels came from

early modernists had asserted the autonomy of

somewhere else—usually America. British fiction

art, according to which art ceased to be art when

was domestic realism, often about adultery; as for

it was designed to serve a moral or political end.

the prose, the rule was that you could have any

But slogans about the independence of art had

color you wanted, so long as it was gray.” So wrote

ceased to hold up in the face of a ruinous inflation,

John Lanchester, himself an interesting novelist,

a devastating depression, and the gathering storm

one whose prose is anything but gray. According

that became World War II. Writers were increas-

to Lanchester, three writers—Martin Amis, Julian

ingly encouraged to direct art’s energies toward

Barnes, and Ian McEwan, all born during the

the defeat or victory of fascism or communism,

1940s—helped bring British English back to life

though not all writers responded in the same way.

as a literary language. They were helped by writ-

Amid much straightforward political writing and

ers who published in London but came to it from

alongside a kind of overripe modernism, as writ-

the outside, such as Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie,

ten by, say, Wyndham Lewis and David Jones,

Derek Walcott, and V. S. Naipaul, who are now

other writers “as diverse as W. H. Auden, Stephen

world famous. A number of strong Irish poets

xiv Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present

and hard-eyed Scottish novelists also enriched

in the number of writers who did not go to Oxford

the mix. As the century ended, the result was

or Cambridge or Eton and have a different per-

that British fiction, poetry, and drama were all

spective on things from those who did. There has


been an energizing influx of writers from former

Contemporary directions are not easy to iden-

parts of the British Empire, writers from the

tify. Although some British writing in the 21st

Caribbean, India, and the Near East who are not

century seems to look forward to an increasingly

likely to see England (or anything else) quite the

bleak future, there also is a tinge of nostalgia that

way writers from London have seen it. The absorp-

informs many new works. Ian McEwan’s Satur-

tion of forms of popular fiction such as whodunits,

day (2005), for example, harks back to Virginia

science fiction, and the romance into the art novel

Woolf’s Mrs. Dal oway (1925), in that McEwan

has made it more robust.

employs the device of focusing on the events of a

British literary history presents young writers

single day—although the day is February 15, 2003,

in English with an immense and various reper-

a day on which there were mass demonstrations

toire of plots, characters, themes, and techniques

against Britain’s involvement in the war in Iraq. In

with which to work. If one wants to be a modern-

two recent poetry collections ( Electric Light, 2001,

ist, the materials are there. If one wants to be an

and District and Circle, 2006), Seamus Heaney

antimodernist or postmodernist, there are mod-

revisits the rural settings of his youth. Alan Ben-

els available. Best of all, when writers go their own

nett’s play The History Boys (2004), set in the 1980s,

ways, there are inspiring “predecessors.” Concur-

is similarly nostalgic. Early in this century, then,

rent historical events encouraged British writers

writers have been finding inspiration in the past.

of the modernist era to smash traditions and pro-

As the century progresses, this tendency may

duce new forms. And the most recent additions to

continue—or it may be just one of many trends

the British literary landscape promise to charge it

to come. In retrospect, it appears that the vicissi-

with new dynamism and diversity.

tudes of modernism constitute the main literary

fact of post-1900 British literature. No movement

George Stade

of equal scope or staying power has emerged to

Karen Karbiener

replace it. Instead, there has been a large increase

General Editors


Time Line







Doughty, Charles


Synge, J. M.


Gregory, Lady


Hodgson, Ralph


Frazer, Sir James G.


Powys, John Cowper


Freud, Sigmund


Ford, Ford Madox


Conrad, Joseph


de la Mare, Walter


Somerville, Edith


Richardson, Dorothy


Grahame, Kenneth


Shackleton, Ernest


Barrie, J. M.


Chesterton, G. K.


Tynan, Katharine


Churchill, Sir Winston


Whitehead, Alfred North


Maugham, W. Somerset


Ross, Martin (Violet Florence


Wallace, Edgar



Buchan, John


James, M. R.


Sabatini, Raphael


Sinclair, May


Powys, T. F.


Yeats, William Butler


Bentley, E. C.


Orczy, Baroness


Granville-Barker, Harley


Fry, Roger


Thomas, Edward


Potter, Beatrix


Coppard, A. E.


Wells, H. G.


Dunsany, Lord


Bennett, Arnold


Masefield, John


Galsworthy, John


Forster, E. M.


Russell, George William (A. E.)


Strachey, Lytton


Belloc Lowndes, Marie


O’Casey, Sean


Blackwood, Algernon


Noyes, Alfred


Saki (H. H. Munro)


Woolf, Leonard


Belloc, Hilaire


Macaulay, Rose


xvi Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present






Bell, Clive


Tolkien, J. R. R.


Colum, Padraic


MacDiarmid, Hugh


Wodehouse, P. G.


West, Rebecca


Joyce, James


Owen, Wilfred


Woolf, Virginia


Sayers, Dorothy L.

ca. 1882–1950

Stephens, James


Read, Herbert


Milne, A. A.


Brittain, Vera


Hulme, T. E.


Cannan, May Wedderburn


Rohmer, Sax


Warner, Sylvia Townsend


Mackenzie, Compton


Stark, Freya


Walpole, Hugh


Huxley, Aldous


Lewis, Wyndham


Bryher (Annie Winifred


Squire, J. C.



Compton-Burnett, Ivy


Priestley, J. B.


Swinnerton, Frank


Sorley, Charles


Lawrence, D. H.


Hartley, L. P.


Firbank, Ronald


Jones, David


Hall, Radclyffe


Williamson, Henry


Williams, Charles


Leavis, F. R.


Stapledon, Olaf


Graves, Robert


Robinson, Lennox

ca. 1896–1952

Tey, Josephine


Sassoon, Siegfried


Ackerley, J. R.


Travers, Ben


Prescott, H. F. M.


Brooke, Rupert


Blunden, Edward


Muir, Edwin


Sherriff, R. C.


Sitwell, Edith


O’Flaherty, Liam


Mansfield, Katherine


Smith, Dodie


Lawrence, T. E.


Blyton, Enid


Bridie, James


Sitwell, Sacheverell


Cary, Joyce


Pitter, Ruth


Jesse, F. Tennyson


Mitchison, Naomi


Dane, Clemence


Holtby, Winifred


Eliot, T. S.


Lewis, C. S.


Toynbee, Arnold


Forester, C. S.


Rosenberg, Isaac


Bowen, Elizabeth


Gurney, Ivor


Coward, Noël


Christie, Agatha


Linklater, Eric


Rhys, Jean


Marsh, Ngaio


Gunn, Neil


Travers, P. L.


Jameson, Storm


Hilton, James


Aldington, Richard


Hughes, Richard


Sackville-West, Vita


Bunting, Basil


Sitwell, Osbert


Household, Geoffrey

Authors’ Time Line xvii






O’Faolain, Sean


Huxley, Elspeth


Pritchett, V. S.


Godden, Rumer


Davies, Rhys


Jones, Gwyn


Collier, John


Fry, Christopher


Johnston, Denis


Fleming, Ian


Lehmann, Rosamond

ca. 1908–1980

Manning, Olivia


Smith, Stevie


Ashton-Warner, Sylvia


Heyer, Georgette


Calder-Marshall, Arthur


Gibbons, Stella


Liddell, Robert


Orwell, George


Crisp, Quentin


O’Connor, Frank


Graham, Winston


Waugh, Evelyn


Raine, Kathleen


Wyndham, John


Lowry, Malcolm


Plomer, William


Pudney, John


Connolly, Cyril


Spender, Stephen


Callaghan, Morley


Ambler, Eric


Muggeridge, Malcolm


Monsarrat, Nicholas


Hamilton, Patrick


Naughton, Bill


Allingham, Margery


Cooper, William


Day-Lewis, C.


O’Brien, Flann


Mitford, Nancy

ca. 1911–1966

Treece, Henry


Isherwood, Christopher


Peake, Mervyn


Buchanan, George


Rattigan, Terence


Greene, Graham


Golding, William


Keane, Molly (M. J. Farrell)


Bedford, Sybille


Green, Henry


Taylor, Elizabeth


Bates, H. E.


Sansom, William


Snow, C. P.


Johnson, Pamela Hansford


Koestler, Arthur


Dennis, Nigel


Renault, Mary


Menen, Aubrey


Warner, Rex


Durrell, Lawrence


Williams, Emlyn


Fuller, Roy


Sharp, Margery


Symons, Julian


Powell, Anthony


Lavin, Mary


White, T. H.


Jenkins, Robin


Watkins, Vernon


Pym, Barbara


Betjeman, John


Smart, Elizabeth


Beckett, Samuel


Barker, George


Stewart, J. I. M. (Michael Innes)


Wilson, Angus


MacNeice, Louis


Davies, Robertson


Auden, W. H.


Thomas, Dylan


Hutchinson, R. C.


Masters, John


du Maurier, Daphne


Reed, Henry

xviii Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present






Lee, Laurie


Mortimer, John


Lewis, Alun


Rubens, Bernice


Welch, Denton


Bolt, Robert


Dickens, Monica


Aiken, Joan


Hoyle, Fred


Bowen, John


Chaplin, Sid


White, Jon Manchip


Dahl, Roald


Wain, John


Ewart, Gavin


Durrell, Gerald


Fitzgerald, Penelope


Aldiss, Brian


Gascoyne, David


Bawden, Nina


Mary Stewart


Finlay, Ian


Burgess, Anthony


Cowper, Richard


Clarke, Arthur C.


Berger, John


Causley, Charles


Donleavy, J. P.


Conquest, Robert


Fowles, John


Newby, P. H.


Fraser, George MacDonald


Mortimer, Penelope


Jennings, Elizabeth


Barker, A. L.


Kops, Bernard


Heath-Stubbs, John


Morris, Jan


Spark, Muriel


Shaffer, Peter


Hillary, Richard


Holden, Molly


Murdoch, Iris


Raven, Simon


Lessing, Doris


Freeling, Nicholas


Middleton, Stanley


Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer


Douglas, Keith


Murphy, Richard


Scott, Paul


Smith, Iain Crichton


Comfort, Alex


Barstow, Stan


Enright, D. J.


Brookner, Anita


Francis, Dick


Gardam, Jane


James, P. D.


Kinsella, Thomas


Crispin, Edmund


Sillitoe, Alan


Brown, George Mackay


Trevor, William


Moore, Brian


Osborne, John


Norris, Leslie


Brophy, Brigid


Larkin, Philip


Alvarez, A.


Braine, John


Deighton, Len


Amis, Kingsley


Friel, Brian


Davie, Donald


Gunn, Thom


Scannell, Vernon


Waterhouse, Keith


Behan, Brendan


Silkin, Jon


Abse, Dannie


Hughes, Ted


Brooke-Rose, Christine


Arden, John


Gordimer, Nadine


Ballard, J. G.

Author’s Time Line xix






Brathwaite, Edward


Thomas, D. M.


Feinstein, Elaine


Byatt, A. S.


Fisher, Roy


Caute, David


Pinter, Harold


Dunn, Nell


Rendell, Ruth


Desai, Anita


Thwaite, Anthony


Harrison, Tony


Walcott, Derek


Stoppard, Tom


Colegate, Isabel


Tennant, Emma


Hazzard, Shirley


Churchill, Caryl


Kavanagh, P. J.


Forsyth, Frederick


le Carré, John


Murray, Les


Munro, Alice


Raworth, Tom


Weldon, Fay


Waugh, Auberon


Wilson, Colin


Atwood, Margaret


Gilliatt, Penelope


Ayckbourn, Alan


Hill, Geoffrey


Bragg, Melvyn


Bradbury, Malcolm


Delaney, Shelagh


Ellis, Alice Thomas


Drabble, Margaret


Fraser, Antonia


Greer, Germaine


Naipaul, V. S.


Heaney, Seamus


O’Brien, Edna


Longley, Michael


O’Faolain, Julia


Moorcock, Michael


Wesker, Arnold


Chatwin, Bruce


Orton, Joe


Carter, Angela


Johnson, B. S.


Coetzee, J. M.


Bainbridge, Beryl


Mahon, Derek


Duffy, Maureen


Hill, Susan


Frayn, Michael


MacLaverty, Bernard


Lively, Penelope


Ali, Tariq


Storey, David


Barker, Pat


Brunner, John


Carey, Peter


Adcock, Fleur


Ondaatje, Michael


Bennett, Alan


Sinclair, Iain


Bond, Edward


Tremain, Rose


Chambers, Aiden


Adair, Gilbert


Gray, Alasdair


Durcan, Paul


McGahern, John


Raine, Craig


Farrell, J. G.


Boland, Eavan


McGrath, John


Banville, John


Griffiths, Trevor


Cope, Wendy


Keneally, Thomas


Barker, Howard


Lodge, David


Barnes, Julian


Sinclair, Clive


Kelman, James

xx Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present






Pullman, Philip


Levy, Andrea


Townsend, Sue


Baxter, Stephen


Hare, David


Hornby, Nick


Hulme, Keri


Doyle, Roddy


Rushdie, Salman


Fielding, Helen


Russell, Willy


Phillips, Caryl


Carson, Ciaran


Welsh, Irvine


Gee, Maggie


Clarke, Susanna


McCall-Smith, Alexander


Fischer, Tibor


McEwan, Ian


Okri, Ben


Pratchett, Terry


Winterson, Jeanette


Sinclair, May


D’Aguiar, Fred


Ackroyd, Peter


Rankin, Ian


Agard, John


Arnott, Jake


Amis, Martin


Fforde, Jasper


Fenton, James


Herbert, W. N.


Swift, Graham


Kay, Jackie


Roberts, Michele


Pierre, DBC


Dunant, Sarah


Roy, Arundhati


Wilson, A. N.


Self, Will


Jordan, Neil


Enright, Anne


McGuckian, Medbh


Greenlaw, Lavinia


Almond, David


Haddon, Mark


Atkinson, Kate


Armitage, Simon


Muldoon, Paul


Martel, Yann


Adams, Douglas


Agbabi, Patience


Boyd, William


Clanchy, Kate


Motion, Andrew


Kennedy, A. L.


Ni Dhomhnaill, Nuala


Farley, Paul


Seth, Vikram


Barker, Nicola


Faulks, Sebastian


Rowling, J. K.


McGuinness, Frank


Ali, Monica


Banks, Iain


Foden, Giles


De Bernieres, Louis


Adebayo, Diran


Hollinghurst, Alan


Brookmyre, Christopher


Ishiguro, Kazuo


Clark, Polly


Kureishi, Hanif


Litt, Toby


Mars-Jones, Adam


Mitchell, David


Burnside, John


Hill, Tobias


Galloway, Janice


Desai, Kiran


McCabe, Patrick


Smith, Zadie


Tóibin, Colm


Fletcher, Susan


Bennett, Ronan


Abse, Dannie (1923– ) poet, playwright,

Abse has also written four novels and several


plays ranging from the semiautobiographical tale

Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, the

of a young Jewish boy growing up in South Wales

son of Rudy Abse, a movie theater owner, and

in the 1930s ( Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve, 1954)

his wife, Kate. Abse fell in love with the lyricism

to musings on medical research ( The Dogs of Pav-

of Welsh English, particularly as expressed in

lov, 1990) and even on the mentally ill ( Pythagoras,

the political speeches of his brother Leo. After

1979). From 1973 to 1974 he was writer-in-resi-

studying at the University of Wales, he trained

dence at Princeton University, and from 1978 to

at Westminster Hospital in London to become

1992 he served as president of the Poetry Society,

a doctor.

a prestigious organization in Britain that exists to

Abse’s poems describe the struggle between his

help poetry and poets thrive. Writer Nicholas Wroe

role as a doctor and his feelings as a human being.

points out that Abse “not only became one of the

In the last line of “X-ray,” a poem about a doctor’s

country’s leading poets, but did so while maintain-

reluctance to view his own mother’s X-ray, he

ing a career as a doctor in a London chest clinic.”

laments, “I still don’t want to know,” even as he

lifts the photo to the viewing screen.

Other Works by Dannie Abse

In his 40s, however, Abse began to reconcile

The View from Row G: Three Plays by Dannie Abse.

the two halves of his life. “Gradually my mind,

Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1990.

as it were, became prepared to write poems with

White Coat, Purple Coat: Col ected Poems 1948–

medical themes,” he recalled. With the publica-

1988. New York: Persea Books, 1991.

tion of A Small Desperation (1968), Abse’s voice

had matured into that of a confident physician

whose view of the world is permanently altered

Ackerley, Joseph Randolph (1896–1967)

because of what he sees as a doctor. The lines “I

playwright, memoirist, editor

know the colour rose, and it is lovely, but not

J. R. Ackerley was born in Herne Hill, Kent, En-

when it ripens in a tumour” from “Pathology of

gland, to Alfred Roger Ackerley, a fruit importer

Colours” reflects this altered point of view.

known as the “Banana King.” Ackerley received


2 Ackroyd, Peter

a degree from Magdalene College, Cambridge,

Other Works by J. R. Ackerley

in 1921, after serving in the Royal Artillery from

My Dog Tulip. 1965. Reprint, New York: New York

1914 to 1918. In World War I he was wounded

Review of Books, 1999.

twice and held as a prisoner of war in France.

We Think the World of You. 1960. Reprint, New York:

Shortly after the war, Ackerley wrote a three-

New York Review of Books, 2000.

act play, The Prisoners of War (1925), which earned

praise from the British poet Siegfried Sassoon.

A Work about J. R. Ackerley

It is widely considered one of the best plays ever

Parker, Peter. Ackerley: A Life of J. R. Ackerley. New

written about World War I for its close look at sol-

York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989.

diers’ personal interactions. Based on Ackerley’s

own experience, the play is set in a Swiss prison

camp and obliquely tells the story of an officer’s

Ackroyd, Peter (1949– ) novelist,

love for a young soldier.

biographer, poet

In addition to several minor novels about his

Peter Ackroyd was born to Graham and Audrey

relationship with his dog, Ackerley wrote several

Ackroyd, a Catholic working-class couple, in

pieces of nonfiction. Hindoo Holiday: An Indian

London, a city that he has used as the setting for

Journal (1932) is his memoir about his experiences

most of his novels and nonfiction works and lov-

as the personal secretary for a local Indian maha-

ingly describes in London: The Biography (2000).

rajah in the 1920s. His autobiography, My Father

He attended Cambridge and Yale, and though he

and Myself (1968), published posthumously, reveals

wrote some poetry in his youth, he quickly aban-

an extremely unconventional but interesting life

doned it for prose.

riddled with numerous sexual affairs with a wide

Ackroyd became known as a nonfiction writer

array of men, including waiters and soldiers, as

with such biographies as Ezra Pound and His

well as an almost spousal relationship with his dog

World (1979) and T. S. Eliot (1984), which won

Queenie, of whom he writes, “The fifteen years she

him the Whitbread Award for Biography. His

lived with me were the happiest of my life.”

biography of Oscar Wilde, The Last Testament

Ackerley’s literary output was relatively small,

of Oscar Wilde (1983), a fictitious representation

but he became profoundly influential as the editor

of Wilde’s journal, won the Somerset Maugham

of the Listener (1935–59), the literary journal of

Award for its stunningly accurate reproduction

the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Dur-

of Wilde’s voice. Critic Ukko Hänninen observes

ing his years as editor he encouraged the work of

that Ackroyd “re-create[s] not only the humour

such well-known writers as W. H. Auden, Clive

but also the poignancy that is so characteristic of

Bell, Christopher Isherwood, Wyndham

Wilde,” as demonstrated in the following quote:

Lewis, Louis Macneice, Stephen Spender, and

“I had appealed to the world to save my reputa-

Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

tion, and it crushed me.”

Ackerley is also remembered for leading the

This postmodernist style of borrowing from

way toward the recognition of homosexual writ-

previously published sources to mix fact with fic-

ers and for fighting for homosexual civil rights

tion and the past with the present carries over to

in England. The critic David Yezzi has remarked

Ackroyd’s novels. Writer Nick Gevers describes

that Ackerley’s “substantial gift was his abil-

the structure of a typical Ackroyd novel as “his-

ity to pronounce sentence on [criticize] himself

tory interacting with and finding a mirror in the

with inimitable wit and charm,” and that he was

present.” Ackroyd’s first novel, The Great Fire of

“lauded as a minor master by contemporaries and

London (1982), purports to be a continuation of

friends such as Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen,

Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit, in which a cast

Vita Sackville-West.”

of characters tries unsuccessfully to reenact

Adair, Gilbert 3

Dickens’s novel. The moral of the story is that it is

An Il ustrated Celebration of 100 Years of Cinema

impossible to reconstruct the past.

(1995). Adair also established an early reputation

Hawksmoor (1985), which won the Whitbread,

in journalism, writing for a number of national

Guardian Fiction, and Goncourt awards, also

newspapers and journals. From 1992 to 1996, he

brings the past into the future, alternating between

penned the “Scrutiny” column on contemporary

chapters set in early 18th-century London and

culture in the Sunday Times.

those set in the 20th century. Church architecture

Adair is better known for his novels, however.

and a mystery involving serial killers tie the two

The first was The Holy Innocents (1988), which is

story lines together. Chatterton (1987) is another

set in Paris during the 1968 student revolts that

mystery, based on three poets in three centuries.

Adair witnessed firsthand. In this book, film-

According to editor Nancy K. Miller, “The para-

obsessed French twins are forced to find other

dox in Ackroyd’s writing is that in re-examining

entertainment when their beloved Cinémathèque

the literary past and in imitating others, he is not

Française is shut down. They draw an American

actually imitating anybody.”

film buff into their private, incestuous world of

sexual experimentation, and the novel vacillates

Other Works by Peter Ackroyd

between their adolescent memories and their

Blake. New York: Knopf, 1996.

present act of profound withdrawal from the out-

First Light. New York: Grove Press, 1996.

side world. Although the book received mixed

The Life of Thomas More. New York: Anchor Books,

reviews, it won the 1989 Authors’ Club First


Novel Award. In 2003, the novel was adapted into

a movie entitled The Dreamers.

A Work about Peter Ackroyd

Adair’s second novel, Love and Death on Long

Onega, Susana. Metafiction and Myth in the Nov-

Island (1990), also features the power of cinema

els of Peter Ackroyd. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden

to inspire obsession. An aging novelist living in

House, 1999.

Hampstead becomes obsessed with an American

teen idol after seeing one of her films by chance.

He is drawn into a whirlpool of pornography and

Adair, Gilbert 1944– ) novelist, poet,

video that culminates in a trip to the idol’s home

screenwriter, journalist, critic

on Long Island, where the writer is rejected by the

Gilbert Adair was born on December 29, 1944,

object of his obsession. This novel was adapted

in Edinburgh. Little is known about his family or

into film in 1997.

early education, subjects he has refused to discuss.

Adair has earned a considerable reputation

It is certain, however, that he split with his fam-

from these and other novels, most of which fea-

ily early on and developed a lifelong passion for

ture smart, self-conscious, plotting, compulsive

France, its culture, and its literature. After learn-

characters and a satirical view of contemporary

ing French in school, he moved to Paris, where he

culture. However, he is most famous for his trans-

began publishing poems in English and French

lation of French author Georges Perec’s novel La

while making a living as an English teacher. He

Disparition, which cleverly avoids the use of the

returned to England in 1979 in order to pursue a

letter e. Adair’s translation, A Void (1994), took

career as a writer.

four years to produce and won universal acclaim

Many of Adair’s first books were nonfiction

upon publication. Adair was awarded the 1995

works of film criticism, including Hol ywood’s

Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his effort,

Vietnam: From The Green Berets to Apocalypse

which faithfully omits every e. The book has been

Now (1981); A Night at the Pictures: Ten Decades

hailed as just as great an achievement in English as

of British Film (1985); and, much later, Flickers:

the original was in French. Adair has also written

4 Adams, Douglas

several children’s books, most notably sequels to

when televised in 1974, caught the eye of Graham

Alice in Wonderland ( Alice Through the Needle’s

Chapman, one of the comedians behind Monty

Eye, 1984) and Peter Pan ( Peter Pan and the Only

Python’s Flying Circus and himself a Footlights

Children, 1987).

alumnus. Impressed with the writing, Chapman

struck up a friendship with Adams that led to

Other Works by Gilbert Adair

Adams’s writing a sketch for Monty Python. How-

A Closed Book. London: Faber and Faber, 1999.

ever, at the end of 1974, Adams’s career appeared

The Death of the Author. London: Heinemann,

to be going nowhere, and he succumbed to a deep



The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice: Reflections

In February 1977 Adams got the break he had

on Culture in the 90s. London: Fourth Estate,

been hoping for. He was commissioned to write a


comic science fiction series for BBC radio. Soon

The Real Tadzio: Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice

after accepting the commission, he was also asked

and the Boy Who Inspired It. New York: Carroll

to write a four-part serial for the science fiction

& Graf, 2003.

series Doctor Who. Suddenly overburdened with

Surfing the Zeitgeist. London: Faber and Faber,

work, Adams struggled to finish the radio series,


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His work

habits were erratic, and he was prone to listless-

ness and depression. He also failed to meet dead-

Adams, Douglas (1952–2001) science

lines, a quirk that would plague him throughout

fiction writer, humorist, radio dramatist

his career.

Douglas Nöel Adams was born on March 11,

When the series premiered on March 8, 1978,

1952, in Cambridge. His father, Christopher

however, it was an instant success. Humorously

Douglas Adams, was a probation officer and his

riffing on many of the conventions of science fic-

mother, Janet Adams, a nurse. They divorced

tion, Adams related the story of Arthur Dent, a

when Adams was five, and he and his younger

perfectly boring, middle-class Englishman who

sister, Susan, lived with their mother and her par-

is whisked off into interstellar adventures by his

ents in a gloomy house in Brentwood, Essex. Of

friend Ford Prefect, who turns out to be an alien.

his childhood Adams has said, “I don’t think it

The title of the series refers to a popular electronic

was a good time.”

guidebook for which Ford researches and writes

Adams attended Brentwood School, where

articles. Dent meets fantastic characters such as

he developed a love of theater despite his limited

Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two-headed hipster and

range as an actor (like all the men in his family, he

felon, and Marvin the Paranoid Android, a robot

was quite large, growing to nearly six-and-a-half

so intelligent that, serving aboard Zaphod’s sto-

feet as an adult, limiting the roles he could play).

len starship, it sees how pitiful its condition is and

He then read English at St. John’s College, Cam-

becomes permanently depressed.

bridge, where he wrote comedy sketches for stu-

The success of the show earned Adams a

dent revues; eventually he became one of the chief

position as producer in BBC radio’s light enter-

writers for the storied theatrical club Footlights.

tainment department. A second series was com-

After graduating in 1974, Adams lived in

missioned, and a stage version of the series was

Islington, a fashionable district of London, try-

first performed the following May. The novel The

ing to work as a sketch writer, selling occasional

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was published

pieces for radio shows while he worked a number

in October 1979 and became an overnight best

of odd jobs, including chicken shed cleaner and

seller. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a

hotel bodyguard. Some of his Footlights work,

sequel to Hitchhiker’s, was published in 1980, and

Adams, Douglas 5

Adams adapted Hitchhiker’s for television (broad-

and the long-awaited film version of The Hitch-

cast in 1981).

hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was released in 2005.

Adams’s life changed dramatically in the

Adams’s Hitchhiker books have sold more

1980s. He became an outspoken technophile, lec-

than 15 million copies worldwide, inspiring at

turing on the virtues of information technology

least two generations of fans. Many prominent

and the possibilities of the personal computer. He

writers, musicians, and scientists have declared

moved in with his lover, Jane Elizabeth Belson, a

their admiration for Adams and his work. Adams

barrister, in 1981, and began hosting renowned

was a rare writer, one who successfully fused sat-

parties in Islington. A third installment in the

ire, comedy, science fiction, and philosophy in his

Hitchhiker’s series, Life, the Universe, and Every-

works and crossed genre lines to win a broad and

thing, appeared in 1982, while a fourth, So Long,

devoted fan base. Every May 25, an informal holi-

and Thanks for All the Fish, came out in 1984.

day known as Towel Day is held to commemorate

By this time, Adams had an international cult

him. During the day, fans carry around a towel all


day, alluding to the importance of towels in the

Adams wrote several other books during this

Hitchhiker series.

time that were unrelated to Hitchhiker’s. A new,

less successful series was launched with Dirk Gen-

Critical Analysis

tly’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and its sequel,

With The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series,

The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul (1988). Its title

Douglas Adams effectively invented a subgenre

character, Dirk Gently, is a private detective who

of literature: comedic science fiction. Although

solves mysteries by examining the “interconnect-

Adams was not the first to write humorous sci-

edness of all things.”

ence fiction, his original vision of the universe

Adams was most proud of a very different

fused memorable wit and superb satire of the cli-

book. Traveling to Indonesia, Zaire, New Zea-

ches of science fiction with philosophical insight

land, China, and Mauritius with zoologist Mark

and a deep understanding of advanced scientific

Carwardine, he wrote of the endangered animals

concepts in a way that has been widely imitated

they tracked down and studied in Last Chance

but never repeated.

to See (1990), an impassioned, humorous, and

Part of the series’ appeal lies in its insertion of

humanistic work.

an utterly normal protagonist, Arthur Dent, into

Belson and Adams married in 1991 and had

fantastically absurd and humiliating situations.

a daughter, Polly Jane Rocket Adams, in 1994.

At the start of the first book, his house is about to

Adams found it increasingly difficult to write

be destroyed to make way for a bypass when he is

during the 1990s (He is widely quoted as saying,

whisked onboard an alien spaceship by his friend

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they

Ford Prefect, who turns out to be an alien. The

make as they fly by.”) and spent much of his time

hitchhiking duo narrowly escape the destruction

on the lecture circuit. He completed what would

of the Earth by the very aliens whose ship they

be the final Hitchhiker novel, Mostly Harmless, in

have invaded, the Vogons. A dour race obsessed

1992 and devoted the rest of his time to trying to

with bureaucratic procedure, the Vogons torture

secure funding for a film version of Hitchhiker’s.

Dent and Prefect with a reading of the captain’s

In 1999 he and his family moved to Santa Bar-

poetry before ejecting them into space.

bara, California.

Improbably enough, just before they are about

Adams was hard at work on a screenplay for

to expire, they are picked up by a passing spaceship

Hitchhiker’s when he died of a heart attack at his

stolen by a friend of Prefect’s, Zaphod Beeblebrox.

local gym in Montecito, California, on May 11,

The spaceship, Heart of Gold, is powered by an

2001. His screenplay was eventually completed,

experimental engine, the Infinite Improbability

6 Adcock, Fleur

Drive. Dent, Prefect, Beeblebrox, along with the

online. URL:

human Trillian and the immeasurably intelligent

article/75853. Accessed January 15, 2008.

(and depressed) Marvin the android, proceed

———. Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography

throughout the galaxy on a series of misadventures

of Douglas Adams. New York: Ballantine Books,

that involve hyperintelligent mice, a computer


designed to provide an answer to the “question of

Yeffeth, Glenn. The Anthology at the End of the Uni-

life, the universe, and everything” (the answer is

verse: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas

“42”), and the Krikkiters, a genocidal alien race

Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

whose planet has been locked away in an envelope

Dallas: BenBella Books, 2005.

of slow time, only to be opened by the reassembly

of an artifact called the Wikkit Gate.

One of the other most beloved aspects of the

Adcock, Fleur (Kareen Fleur Adcock)

series is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

(1934– ) poet, translator

itself, an electronic guidebook collaboratively

Fleur Adcock was born in Papakura, New Zealand,

written and edited by its users, whose philosophi-

but spent several years (l939–47) in England. Her

cal and humorous passages pepper the five novels

mother, Irene Adcock, is also a writer, as is her sis-

in the series. The Guide is an example of Adams’s

ter, Marilyn Duckworth. After her return to New

technological prescience, prefiguring both PDAs

Zealand, in 1954 Adcock received a classics degree

and wikis. Together, the Guide passages and the

at Victoria University at Wellington. For several

journeys of Dent and his companions depict an

years she was married to the poet Alistair Camp-

elaborately imagined universe.

bell, with whom she had two sons. She has worked

Adams’s work has been rightly compared to

as a librarian and university lecturer in both New

that of Lewis Carroll, Kurt Vonnegut, and P. G.

Zealand and Britain. For the last 20 years she pub-

Wodehouse. His wordplay, economical wit, and

lished poetry and translated and edited poetry

thought-experiments with bizarre technologies

collections. She also talks about poetry for the

and scientific notions are balanced with a deep

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).

sense of mixed melancholy and wonder at exis-

Adcock has been referred to as the “expatriate

tence itself. The series has attained the status of a

poet” because she lives and writes in England and

modern classic.

New Zealand, and both countries claim her. She is

considered one of the best women poets writing in

Other Works by Douglas Adams

Great Britain now. Her first book of poetry, The Eye

The Salmon of Doubt. New York: Harmony Books,

of the Hurricane (1964), is filled with poems about


her life in New Zealand and gives evidence of her

training in the classics. She has commented: “The

Works about Douglas Adams

content of my poems derives largely from those

Philips, Deborah. “Douglas Adams.” Dictionary

parts of my life which are directly experienced,

of Literary Biography. Vol. 261, British Fantasy

relationships with people or places; images and

and Science-Fiction Writers Since 1960, edited

insights which have presented themselves sharply

by Darren Harris-Fain, 3–7. Farmington Hills,

from whatever source, conscious or subconscious;

Mich.: The Gale Group, 2002.

ideas triggered off by language itself.” In a poem

Simpson, M. J. Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas

called “For a Five-Year-Old,” she tries to explain

Adams. Boston: Justin, Charles & Co., 2003.

the strangeness of adult behavior toward animals,

Webb, Nick. “Adams, Douglas Nöel (1952–2001).”

admitting that she has trapped mice and shot

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ox-

wild birds: “But that is how things are: I am your

ford University Press, January 2005. Available

mother, And we are kind to snails.” In “Richey,” a

Agard, John 7

poem published in The Scenic Route (1974), Adcock

Oxford, navigates various African and Caribbean

examines her Irish ancestry: “My great-grandfa-

communities in London. Born to Nigerian immi-

ther Richey Brooks began in mud: at Moneymore;

grants who hold very traditional beliefs, Dele

‘a place of mud and nothing else’ he called it. . . .”

struggles to reconcile the disparate aspects of his

The poems in this collection are shorter and filled

life, including his African ancestry, university life,

with more images than her usual style. The col-

and the music and drug scene in London. Ade-

lection The Inner Harbour (1979) deals with love

bayo depicts London street culture of the 1990s

and loss and the ways in which Adcock was able to

with engaging wit and an authentic voice while

accept changes in her life.

confronting the racial and social issues faced by

In addition to her many volumes of poetry,

nonwhite British citizens. As Adebayo has com-

Adcock has translated other poets, such as Grete

mented, “I don’t feel fully British: nonwhites are

Tartler’s Orient Express: Poems from Romanian.

not yet completely first-class citizens. I see myself

Adcock was also the editor of The Faber Book of

as part of the wider black diaspora, with as much

20th Century Women’s Poetry (1987) and of The

in common with black French people or Ameri-

OxFord Book of Contemporary New Zealand

cans as with white Britons.”

Poetry (1982). Her many awards include the New

Some Kind of Black went on to garner Adebayo

Zealand National Book Award in 1984, and she

the Betty Trask Award, the Author’s Club Best First

was made an Officer of the Order of the British

Novel Award, and the Writer’s Guild New Writer

Empire (OBE) in 1996.

of the Year Award in 1996. His second novel, My

Once Upon a Time (2000), received critical and

A Work about Fleur Adcock

popular acclaim as well. Adebayo also coedited

Bleiman, Barbara, ed. Five Modern Poets: Fleur

New Writing 12 (2003), a yearly anthology pub-

Adcock, U. A. Fanthorpe, Tony Harrison, Anne

lished by Picador, and has been awarded a number

Stevenson, Derek Walcott. New York: Longman,

of prestigious residencies and fellowships, includ-


ing an International Arts Council Fellowship and

a British Council USA UK Writer-in-Residence at

Georgetown University—Washington, D.C. His

Adebayo, Diran (1968– ) journalist,

third novel, in progress, is The Bal ad of Dizzy and


Miss P.

Oludiran Adebayo was born in North London

on August 30, 1968, to Nigerian immigrants.

Works about Diran Adebayo

(Adebayo normally drops “Olu” because it is a

Adebayo, Diran. Personal Web site. Available on-

common prefix in Yoruba, his parents’ native

line. URL: http://www.

language.) He was the youngest of five brothers,

Accessed November 24, 2007.

and his mother died when he was 20. At 12, he

won a prestigious scholarship to Malvern College,

then attended Oxford, where he studied law. After

A. E.

graduating, he worked as a journalist, writing for

See Russell, George William.

several newspapers including the Guardian, the

Daily Mail, and the Voice. He has also written for

television and radio.

Agard, John (1949– ) poet, playwright,

Adebayo’s literary career began in 1995, when

children’s writer

he won the inaugural Saga Prize with his first

John Agard was born June 21, 1949, in the colony

novel, Some Kind of Black. In this semiautobio-

of British Guiana (now Guyana), a country on the

graphical work, Dele, a young black student at

northeast coast of South America. By the time his

8 Agbabi, Patience

native country had gained its independence from

Agbabi, Patience (1965– ) poet

British rule in 1966, Agard had begun publishing

Patience Agbabi was born in 1965 to Nigerian

his writing in his school magazine. In 1967 he went

parents living in London, but was fostered by a

to work as a teacher of Latin, English, and French.

white family and grew up in Sussex and North

Agard is an enthusiastic promoter of Carib-

Wales. She remained in touch with her biological

bean literature. He worked for a time during his

parents, however, and her early life was character-

teaching years as a newspaper feature writer and

ized by numerous dualities. She has called herself

subeditor in Guyana before immigrating in 1977

bicultural, and themes of identity dominate her

to London, where his father had settled. Before


leaving Guyana, he had published his first book

Agbabi studied English at Pembroke College,

of poetry, Shoot Me with Flowers (1974). He has

Oxford, and began performing on the London

traveled widely throughout schools in the United

Spoken Word circuit around 1995. In 2002, she

Kingdom to promote Caribbean literature and

earned an M.A. in creative writing, the arts and

customs, and he has contributed to and edited

education at the University of Sussex in Brighton.

anthologies, particularly those that emphasize

Her published work owes much to her work as a

Caribbean culture and children’s literature.

performance poet; she has sometimes appeared at

Agard’s work has won him several awards.

more than 100 events per year. From 1995 to 1998

Among them are the Paul Hamlyn Award for

she was a member of Atomic Lip, a group of female

Poetry in 1997 and the Cholmondeley Award in

rappers who gave multimedia performances.

2004. Agard is also the recipient of the Casa de las

Her first book, R.A.W. (1995), won the 1997

Américas Prize for his poetry collection, Man to

Excelle Literary Award. It confronts a variety of

Pan (1982).

difficult subjects, all having to do with contem-

He has served several residencies, including

porary British society: drug addiction, repres-

poet in residence at the British National Mari-

sive government, and questions of sexuality

time Museum, writer in residence at the South

predominate. Agbabi, “always a poetical activ-

Bank Centre, and poet in residence for the British

ist,” has said that she wrote this book “to right

the wrongs of the world.” Formally, the poems

Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), all in London.

owe much to the rhythms and verbal and asso-

The popular writer lives in Lewes, East Sussex, in

ciational genius of rap.

southeast England, with poet Grace Nichols.

Agbabi’s second book, Transformatrix (2000),

was enthusiastically received for its formal

Other Works by John Agard

variety. In contrast with her first book, Agbabi

A Caribbean Dozen: Poems from Caribbean Poets.

included a number of poems in traditional forms

John Agard and Grace Nichols, eds; illustrated

such as the sonnet and sestina. She also played

by Cathie Feistead. First U.S. ed. Cambridge,

with these forms, exploring their possibilities and

Mass.: Candlewick Press, 1994.

limitations in relation to the kind of energetic,

Laughter Is an Egg. Illustrated by Alan Rowe. Lon-

anarchic verse she has become famous for in her

don: Puffin Books, 1991.

performances. Many of the poems are dramatic

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me at Al : Poems. First U.S. ed.

monologues from a range of personae, only some

New York: H. Holt, 1990.

of whom resemble Agbabi. Her subject matter in

Mangoes and Bul ets: Selected and New Poems,

Transformatrix is again the realities of modern

1972–84. London: Pluto Press, 1985.

Britain, especially its cultural collisions.

Say It Again, Granny!: Twenty Poems from Caribbean

Agbabi has been awarded numerous residen-

Proverbs. Illustrated by Susanna Gretz. London:

cies and has taught at the universities of Green-

Bodley Head, 1986.

wich, Wales (Cardiff), and Kent at Canterbury.

Aldington, Richard 9

She travels widely, performing around the world

Simon, a brave and self-reliant gooseboy, helps

and introducing students to slam poetry, some-

two girls escape menacing wolves and a cruel gov-

times for the first time.

erness. Simon discovers his noble parentage in

Black Hearts in Battersea (1964), the second book

Other Works by Patience Agbabi

in the series, which introduces the resourceful

Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry.

Dido Twite. Though Twite was intended to drown

Contributor. London: Women’s Press, 1998.

at the end of the book, a letter from a young reader

The Virago Book of Wicked Verse. Contributor. Lon-

persuaded Aiken to rescue her, and Dido’s adven-

don: Virago, 1992.

tures continued in several other books.

Aiken wrote for adults and children in several

Works about Patience Agbabi

other genres, including fantasies, thrillers, plays,

“Patience Agbabi.” Crossing Borders: New Writing

and short stories. In 1965 the Wil oughby Chase

from Africa. British Council. Available online.

quartet won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.

URL: http://www.crossingbordersafricanwriting.

Nightfal (1971) received the 1972 Edgar Allan

org/writersonwriting/patienceagbabi. Accessed

Poe Award. Commenting on why she wrote

Jan uary 28, 2008.

alternative histories that describe England as it

Rajaratnam, Renuka. Interview with author. The

might have been, Aiken said, “Why do we want

Hindu Online Edition. Available online. URL:

to have alternate worlds? . . . If you write about

something, hopefully you write about something

2007062450090500.htm. Accessed January 28,

that’s better or more interesting than circum-


stances as they now are, and that way you hope

to make a step towards it.” Aiken’s alternative

histories combine elements of fairy tales, adven-

Aiken, Joan (1924–2004) novelist, short

ture stories, and humor so creatively that critic

story writer

Patricia Craig credits her with inventing the

The daughter of American writer Conrad Aiken,

“unhistorical romance, . . . a new genre which far

Joan Aiken was born in Sussex after her fam-

outdoes its conventional counterpart in inven-

ily moved to England. Her children’s books and

tiveness and wit.”

fantasies reflect the countryside where she grew

up and her love of authors like John Masefield,

Other Works by Joan Aiken

Mervyn Peake, and C. S. Lewis. Homeschooled

The Cockatrice Boys. New York: Tor, 1996.

until she was 12, Aiken left boarding school when

Dangerous Games. New York: Delacorte, 1999.

she was 17. In 1941 she began work as a clerk at

the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and

four years later she married Ronald Brown, a press

Aldington, Richard (1892–1962) novelist,

officer at the United Nations Information Center.

poet, critic, biographer, translator, screenwriter

Aiken’s first book of short stories, All You’ve

Richard Aldington was born in Portsea, England,

Ever Wanted, was published in 1953. After her

to Albert Edward Aldington, a lawyer’s clerk,

husband died of lung cancer in 1955, she stopped

and Jessie May Godfree Aldington. Although he

working on her first novel and took a job at Argosy

was named Edward Godfree Aldington, he early

magazine to support her two children. When The

chose to be called Richard. His family was not

Wolves of Wil oughby Chase was finally published

well off, and he had to leave University College,

in 1962, its success allowed Aiken to become a

London, because of lack of funds. His brilliance

full-time writer. Set during the imaginary reign

in languages and literature was manifest early on,

of James III of England, this fantasy tells how

however, and by the age of 20 he was publishing

10 Aldiss, Brian W.

elegantly written poetry. Aldington, Ezra Pound,

attitudes and techniques cannot be consistently

and Hilda Doolittle (“H. D.”) became the leaders of

identified with a particular school or movement.”

the imagism movement, which Aldington defined:

“To present an image (hence the name, imagist).

A Work about Richard Aldington

We are not a school of painters, but we believe that

Smith, Richard E. Richard Aldington. Boston:

poetry should render particulars exactly and not

Twayne, 1977.

deal in vague generalities, however magnificent

and sonorous.” He married H. D. in 1913.

About this time Aldington became literary edi-

Aldiss, Brian W. (1925– ) science fiction

tor of The Egoist, a London magazine; published

novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer

substantial amounts of poetry; and, as secretary to

Brian Aldiss was born in East Dereham, Norfolk,

the novelist Ford Madox Ford, transcribed the

England, to department store owner Stanley Ald-

latter’s novel The Good Soldier. He enlisted in 1916

iss and his wife, Elizabeth. He was a soldier, poet,

as a private in the army but was rapidly commis-

film critic, and bookseller before becoming a full-

sioned and saw combat as an officer. After the war

time writer.

he devoted himself to the literary life, continuing

Among Aldiss’s noteworthy science fiction

to publish poetry and book reviews for the Times

novels are Barefoot in the Head (1969), about a

Literary Supplement, as well as criticism and trans-

future war whose weapons are psychedelic drugs;

lations of French and Italian works. He worked

and Hel iconia Spring (1982), Hel iconia Summer

with T. S. Eliot on The Criterion but, becoming

(1983), and Hel iconia Winter (1985), a trilogy that

restless, he began to travel abroad. Death of a Hero

traces the history of a society on a planet with

(1929), a novel based on his war experiences, made

centuries-long seasons. Among his other novels,

Aldington an instant celebrity.

the semiautobiographical The Hand-Reared Boy

He continued to publish almost to the end of

(1970), A Soldier Erect (1971), and A Rude Awak-

his life. Significant works include several novels

ening (1978) follow a character named Horatio

( Death of a Hero, 1929, and All Men Are Enemies,

Stubbs through school and war.

1933); many poems; his autobiography Life for

Aldiss has also retold the Dracula, Dr. Moreau,

Life’s Sake (1941); a biography of Waterloo’s hero,

and Frankenstein stories. His Frankenstein

Wel ington (1946), which won the James Tate Black

Unbound (1973) was turned into a 1990 film,

Memorial Prize; biographies of D. H. Lawrence

and his short story “Supertoys Last All Summer

and the French poet Frederic Mistral; translations

Long” (1969) was filmed as A.I. (2001). The for-

of Greek and Latin poets; and Hollywood screen-

mer concerns a time traveler meeting both Victor

plays while he lived in the United States from 1935

Frankenstein and Mary Shelley, while the latter

to 1947. He nearly ruined his reputation with his

tells of a lifelike robot boy whose “parents” debate

controversial biography of T. E. Lawrence (Law-

whether to get rid of him as if he were merely an

rence of Arabia), which attempted to prove that

appliance, though he clearly is a sentient being.

Lawrence was not the hero that he was believed

Aldiss’s history of science fiction, Bil ion Year

to be.

Spree (1973), treats the genre with serious critical

Aldington spent three weeks in Russia as a

scrutiny instead of the usual fan recollections. He

guest of the Soviet Writers Union in 1962 and died

argues that science fiction was born in the 19th

suddenly upon his return to France. Critic Rich-

century when the mystery and suspense of the

ard Smith stresses the difficulty in summarizing

gothic romance was wedded to the scientific and

Aldington’s literary career: “Though he began his

technological wonders of the Industrial Revolu-

career as an imagist poet, his subsequent writ-

tion. For Aldiss, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is

ings are the work of a strong individualist whose

the first true science fiction novel. He adds that

Ali, Monica 11

“[t]he greatest successes of science fiction are those

even as the letters she receives from her sister,

which deal with man in relation to his changing

Hasina, indicate that life in Bangladesh is under-

surroundings and abilities: what loosely might be

going vast changes. Nazneen’s life unfolds with its

called environmental fiction. ” Although Aldiss’s

share of domestic tragedy and tribulation. While

work employs familiar science fiction elements,

her husband longs to return home despite his fail-

such as robots, lasers, and spaceships, he places a

ure to achieve success in London, Nazneen’s life

high value on philosophical and sociological ques-

changes as she enters into a passionate adulterous

tions, as in the Helliconia books’ examination of

relationship with Karim, a community leader and

how a culture adapts to its physical environment.

middleman who brings her garments to sew.

In 1962 Aldiss won a Hugo, the Science Fic-

Through Nazneen the novel explores the ques-

tion Achievement Award, for Hothouse (1962),

tion of whether or not individuals can shape the

a collection of stories about humans of the far

courses of their lives, and it has been praised for

future living in a huge tree that covers a conti-

its masterful depiction of immigrant life and

nent. Three years later his “The Saliva Tree,” in

sensitive portrayal of the impact of the destruc-

which H. G. Wells foils an alien takeover, won a

tion of the World Trade Center on Muslim com-

Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fan-

munities such as Nazneen’s. Even before the novel

tasy Writers of America. In 1999 that group pro-

appeared in print, Ali was named by Granta as

claimed him a “Grand Master.” Biographer Tom

Best of Young British Novelists. While Brick Lane

Henighan credits Aldiss with “a history of science

garnered a number of awards in 2003, including

fiction that at one stroke demolished nearly half a

the British Book Award for Newcomer of the Year

century’s parochial reading of the genre.”

and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Ali

has also come in for criticism of her representa-

A Work about Brian Aldiss

tion of Bangladeshis, especially the Sylheti, as

Henighan, Tom. Brian Aldiss. Boston: Twayne, 1999.

stereotypical, and she has been accused of cater-

ing to negative British perceptions. This criticism

intensified when in 2006 plans were announced to

Ali, Monica (1967– ) novelist

make a film of the novel. Ali was attacked by Ger-

Born in 1967 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monica Ali

maine Greer in the Guardian on this account,

is the author of Brick Lane (2003), a novel about

but Salman Rushdie came to the young author’s

the Bangladeshi immigrant families living in and

defense. The film version of Brick Lane appeared

around the East London street famous since the

in 2007.

1970s for Indian cuisine. The daughter of a Ban-

In 2006 Ali’s second full-length fiction, Alen-

gladeshi father and an English mother, Ali grew

tejo Blue appeared. Set in Portugal in the village

up in Bolton, England, and completed her educa-

of Mamarrosa, Ali offers a fragmentary portrait of

tion at Wadham College, Oxford, where she stud-

the community through a set of stories connected

ied philosophy, politics, and economics.

largely by geography. A pig farmer, a café owner,

Brick Lane’s central character is Nazneen, who

a slovenly Englishwoman and her family, an alco-

emigrates at the age of 18 from a small village

holic writer, an au pair, and various visitors are all

in Bangladesh to become a garment worker in

given voices that do not seem to be aware of the

London and to enter into an arranged marriage

existence of one another. While meticulously con-

with Chanu, who is more than twice her age. Ali

veying the ambience of the cork-forested regions

vividly portrays Nazneen’s narrow existence. She

of southern Portugal, Alentejo Blue is a work of

speaks no English and seldom ventures from her

isolated voices. “In Alentejo Blue, ” Liesl Schillinger

flat in East London’s Tower Hamlets section. She

has written, “Ali’s characters are trapped in their

lives in England but longs to return to Dhaka,

own heads.”

12 Ali, Tariq

Ali, Tariq (1943– ) political writer, historian,

and America, but beginning with Shadows of the


Pomegranate Tree (1992), set in Moorish Spain

Tariq Ali was born on October 21, 1943, in Lahore,

on the brink of Christian reconquest, he began

Pakistan (then part of India), to Mazhar Ali Khan

to explore the complicated relationship between

and Tahira Hyat, both of whom were active in the

Christian and Islamic cultures. The Book of Sala-

Communist Party. In 1963 he graduated from

din (1998) is a multivoiced fictional biography of

Lahore University, where he had organized stu-

the 12th-century Muslim military hero, while The

dent protests against the authoritarian General

Stone Woman (2000) takes place in the declining

Ayub Khan, prompting an uncle who worked in

Ottoman Empire of the late 19th century.

military intelligence to advise him to leave the

The third group of Ali’s works consists of arti-

country. He enrolled in Exeter College, Oxford,

cles, reviews, plays, and editorial work. Ali has

studied politics, philosophy, and economics, and

written on a broad number of subjects, including

became active in left-wing student politics, par-

the Iraq War, South American socialist move-

ticipating in protests against the Vietnam War. He

ments, and India and Pakistan. He is an editor

was elected president of the Oxford Union debat-

of the New Left Review, with which he has long

ing society and became famous through televised

been associated, as well as the editorial director

debates with the likes of Henry Kissinger.

of Verso, a London-based publisher. Ali’s plays,

Ali started writing articles in support of social-

most of them collaborations, have not attracted

ist and antiwar causes during his student years.

major critical attention.

After he left Oxford in 1966, he began to study

law, but soon became the reviews editor of Town,

Other Works by Tariq Ali

a British magazine. A year later he devoted himself

Bush in Babylon. New York: Verso, 2003.

to full-time activism, leading the Vietnam Solidar-

Can Pakistan Survive?: The Death of a State. New

ity Campaign. He became a leader of the Interna-

York: Penguin, 1983.

tional Marxist Group (a political organization that

The Nehrus and the Gandhis: An Indian Dynasty.

was absorbed into the Labour Party in 1981) and

London: Chatto & Windus, 1985.

was a leading figure in the New Left movement that

Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope. New York:

swelled throughout the l960s and early 1970s.

Verso, 2006.

Ali’s literary reputation rests on three inter-

Speaking of Empire and Resistance. With David

related groups of works. One of these is a series

Barsamian. London: The New Press, 2005.

of histories, autobiographies, and political works

A Sultan in Palermo. New York: Verso, 2005.

that include 1968 and After: Inside the Revolu-

Trotsky for Beginners. London: Icon Books, 1998.

tion (1978), which assessed the turbulence of

the preceding decade; Who’s Afraid of Margaret

A Work about Tariq Ali

Thatcher?: In Praise of Socialism (1984); Street

Ali, Tariq. Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography

Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties

of the Sixties. New York: Verso, 2005.

(1987); and 1968: Marching in the Streets (1998).

These works established Ali as a formidable com-

mentator who tirelessly and energetically interro-

Allingham, Margery (Maxwell March)

gated the dominant culture from a radical leftist

(1904–1966) novelist


Margery Allingham was born in London. Her

Several historical novels focusing on Islamic

father, Herbert, wrote detective stories and family

figures and locales constitute the second group

serials for the popular penny weekly magazines;

of Ali’s most significant work. His first novel,

her mother, Emily, wrote stories for women’s

Redemption (1990), is set in contemporary Europe

magazines. When Allingham was seven, “Mother

Almond, David 13

presented her with a big bottle of Stephen’s blue

Other Work by Margery Allingham

ink, a handful of paper and a nib, and Father

Mind Reader. 1965. Reprint, New York: Avon, 1990.

outlined a plot for her,” reported her sister Joyce.

Allingham’s first story was published when she

was eight. She wrote and produced a play while a

Almond, David (1951– ) children’s and

student at Cambridge.

young adult writer, short story writer, novelist

Allingham’s first novel, a romantic adventure

Born on May 15, 1951, in the small mining town

called Blackerchief Dick (1923), was published

of Felling-on-Tyne (near Newcastle), David

when she was 19. She insisted that fellow stu-

Almond knew from a very early age that he

dent Philip Youngman Carter design the cover.

wanted to become a writer. He attended the Uni-

She and Carter married four years later, and he

versity of East Anglia, where he studied English

became her frequent writing partner, completing

and American literature, then trained to become

Cargo of Eagles (1968) after her death.

a teacher at Newcastle Polytechnic. He began

After her marriage, Allingham adapted silent

publishing his first adult stories while he worked

films into stories for The Girl’s Cinema, a maga-

as a secondary school teacher for five years,

zine owned by her aunt. She also began writing

then quit his job, sold his house, and moved to a

mystery novels. The Crime at Black Dudley (1929)

remote Norfolk artists’ commune to concentrate

introduced her detective, Albert Campion. At first

on his writing.

the mild-mannered Campion is characterized as

While at the commune for a year, he wrote

“that silly ass,” but he matures into a witty, urbane

more stories that formed the basis of his first short

troubleshooter who takes on villains from black-

story collection, Sleepless Nights (1985). Almond

mailers to spies with the help of his manservant,

moved to Newcastle and began teaching children

Magersfontein Lugg.

with special needs part time while he continued

Campion’s 24 cases earned Allingham a place

to write. He produced a second volume of literary

among the “Big Four” of the Golden Age of crime

short stories, A Kind of Heaven, in 1997.

fiction, along with Agatha Christie, Ngaio

However, it was his children’s book Skellig,

Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers. The Observer

published the following year, that established him

review of The Fashion in Shrouds (1938) noted that

as a significant literary figure. It won both the

“to Albert Campion has fallen the honour of being

Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s

the first detective to feature in a story which is also

Book Award, and its best-selling status allowed

by any standard a distinguished novel.” Scholars

Almond to devote himself to writing full time.

praise Allingham’s consistently ingenious puzzles

This breakthrough came only after 15 years of

and engaging characters. Tiger in the Smoke

writing with little public acclaim; as Almond has

(1952), featuring the villainous Jack Havoc, has

said of the novel’s success, “When Skellig came, it

been rated her best work by both Allingham and

really was as if somebody said: Oh, here, you’ve

her critics. “The killer is known, and the mystery

been working hard for a long time. Have this. It

lies in finding him and discovering his motiva-

was like a gift for all that work.”

tion, which allows Allingham to create an almost

Skellig is about a mysterious creature who

allegorical story of the battle between good and

appears part human, part bird, and who might

evil,” notes critic Paula M. Woods. Comment-

in fact be an angel. Michael, a 10-year-old who

ing on Allingham’s enduring appeal, the mystery

has recently moved to the north of England, dis-

novelist H. R. F. Keating notes that her later books

covers the mysterious and ambiguously ill Skellig

“say much that is penetrating and wise about men

in the garage of his new house. Along with his

and women, perhaps especially women,” which

new friend Mina, he tries to nurse Skellig back

“makes them still immensely readable.”

to health. Though the novel ends without total

14 Alvarez, Alfred

resolution, the resonant power of its story made

lowing years alternately as a researcher at Oxford,

it an instant success.

a research fellow at three different universities in

In many ways Skellig showcases Almond’s

America, and a freelance writer in London.

approach to fiction. “I’m a realist,” Almond has

Although Alvarez started writing poetry as an

commented. “My books are very realistic. I sup-

undergraduate, he never produced a large body of

pose what they do maybe tend towards is to show

verse. In 1961 a group of poems about his failed

how extraordinary the world can be. Especially

first marriage won the Vachel Lindsay Prize for

for children.” His other highly regarded children’s

Poetry from Poetry magazine. These poems,

books, which include Kit’s Wilderness (1999),

which include the titles “Love Affair,” “Waking,”

Heaven Eyes (2000), and The Fire-Eaters (2003)

and “The Survivor,” combine violent and natu-

(another Whitbread winner), feature children in

ral images to describe feelings of alienation and

realistic situations facing realistic problems who

separation. His last poetry collection, Autumn to

are helped in some way by mysterious, fantastic

Autumn, and Selected Poems, 1953–1976 (1978),

forces. In this way Almond offers real worlds

contains a seven-sequence poem, “Autumn to

that include inherent touches of the magical and

Autumn,” that depicts a cycle of loss and renewal.

extraordinary. Almond has won numerous other

The sense of renewal is evident in the sequence

awards for these books.

“Snow,” which concludes with the lines “Already

the wind is turning, spring patrols the street, /

Other Works by David Almond

The first buds stir under the snow on the hill.”

Clay. New York: Delacorte Press, 2006.

Although Alvarez’s emotionally intense poetry

Counting Stars. New York: Delacorte Press, 2002.

earned him a moderate level of recognition, he

Kate, the Cat and the Moon. New York: Random

attained his greatest status as a critic. His first

House, 2005.

critical study, The Shaping Spirit (1958), analyzed

Secret Heart. New York: Delacorte Press, 2002.

modern English poetry, which he viewed as too

Two Plays. New York: Delacorte Press, 2005.

academic and lacking in purity and personal

strength. Alvarez continued this theme in his

Works about David Almond

anthology The New Poetry (1962), in which he

Almond, David. “Biography.” Author’s Web site.

calls for English poets to “remain immune from

Available online. URL: http://www.davidalmond.

the disease so often found in English culture: gen-

com/author/bio.html. Accessed December 7,

tility.” He went on to establish himself as one of


the foremost critics of poetry in the 1960s. Scholar

Latham, Don. David Almond: Memory and Magic.

Christopher Ricks gave him a limited accolade by

Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2006.

opining that Alvarez is a good reviewer because

Richards, Linda. Interview with author. Available

“he can tell the difference between a good poem

online. URL:

and a bad one. . . . You can usually trust his choices

profiles/almond.html. Accessed December 7,

but not his arguments.”


Alvarez turned to novels in the 1970s, writing

the highly regarded Hunt (1978), about a poker

player who is unlucky in love; and Day of Atone-

Alvarez, Alfred (1929– ) poet, novelist,

ment (1991), describing the London underworld.


His nonfiction works include Feeding the Rat

A. Alvarez was born to Bertie and Katie Levy

(1988), a biography of mountaineer Mo Anthoine;

Alvarez, members of a well-established Jewish

and The Savage God (1971), a widely read discussion

family in London. In 1952 he graduated from

of suicide. Critic Stephen Pile summarized Alva-

Oxford with a degree in English. He spent the fol-

rez thus: “A bit of a poet and a bit less of a novelist,

Amis, Kingsley 15

he is best known for . . . writing The Savage God, a

acters and driven by real-world politics. In 1953

celebrated study of that whole dark subject.”

his screenplay for The Cruel Sea was nominated

for an Academy Award. He was named a Grand

Other Works by A. Alvarez

Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1975

Night: An Exploration of Night Life, Night Language,

and received the first Golden Dagger Award from

Sleep and Dreams. New York: Norton, 1995.

the Veterans of the OSS in 1989. Novelist John le

Where Did It All Go Right? An Autobiography. New

Carré, also a master of the genre, has described

York: Morrow, 1999.

Ambler’s novels as “the well into which every-

body had dipped.” Reviewer George Grella attri-

butes his enduring appeal to “the unique Ambler

Ambler, Eric (Eliot Reed) (1909–1998)

touch,” which is “urbane and ironic” and elevates

novelist, screenwriter

the spy novel “to a sophisticated examination of

Born in London, Eric Ambler was the oldest of

the methods and moralities of modern interna-

three children. His parents, Alfred Percy and

tional intrigue.”

Amy Madeleine Andrews Ambler, performed in

theatrical reviews. While studying engineering

Other Works by Eric Ambler

at the University of London, Ambler wrote songs

Epitaph for a Spy. 1928. Reprint, New York: Vintage,

and sketches for vaudeville acts and performed in


a comedy double act.

Here Lies: An Autobiography. London: Weidenfeld

In 1935 Ambler shifted his focus to writing

and Nicolson, 1985.

thrillers, which were not then considered real lit-

Journey into Fear. 1940. Reprint, New York: Amere-

erature. However, realizing that spy novels could

on, 1998.

deal with current issues and ideological conflicts,

Ambler built the plot of his first book, The Dark

A Work about Eric Ambler

Frontier (1936), around the development of a

Ambrosetti, Ronald. Eric Ambler. New York:

nuclear weapon. In The Mask of Dimitrios (1939),

Twayne, 1994.

generally considered his masterpiece, an English

mystery writer investigating the death of a spy

gets caught up in arms deals and Balkan politics.

Amis, Kingsley (Robert Markham) (1922–

Ambler’s first six books, says critic Peter Lewis,

1995) novelist, poet, nonfiction writer

“effected a virtual revolution of the thriller, mak-

Kingsley Amis was born in London to William

ing it a vehicle for thoughtful political fiction for

Amis, a clerk for Colman’s Mustard, and Rosa

the first time.”

Lucas Amis. He was educated at the City of Lon-

Soon after his marriage to American fashion

don School and Oxford, where he met his lifelong

reporter Louise Crombie, Ambler joined the army

friend, the poet Philip Larkin. From Oxford

in 1940 and produced nearly 100 films for the Brit-

he went on to lecture in English Literature at the

ish War Office. After the war, in addition to novels,

University College at Swansea.

he wrote and produced movies. In 1958 he moved

While at Oxford and during his early years at

to Hollywood, where he created a television series

Swansea, Amis wrote some well-received poetry,

about private investigators called Checkmate. Sev-

but it was with his first novel, Lucky Jim (1954),

eral of his novels, including The Mask of Dimitrios

that he came to public attention. Drawing on his

and Topkapi, were made into films.

own experiences, Amis wrote of Jim Dixon, an

Considered the father of the modern spy

English lecturer at a provincial university who

thriller, Ambler received several awards for his

is surrounded by pretentious snobs and wealthy

novels, which are peopled with believable char-

hangers-on of the arts. Jim, who it seems can do

16 Amis, Kingsley

nothing right, has a series of comic misadventures

In the 1960s Amis published many novels,

and loses his academic job. His fortunes turn for

including One Fat Englishman (1963), whose titu-

the better when he begins to vocalize his hilari-

lar hero is the obese and disagreeable publisher

ously nasty thoughts: “The bloody old towser-

Roger H. St. John W. Micheldene. Under the

faced boot-faced totem-pole on a crap reservation,

pseudonym Robert Markham, he published The

Dixon thought. ‘You bloody old towser-faced

James Bond Dossier (1964), a mock-scholarly study

boot-faced totem-pole on a crap reservation,’ he

of the Bond novels, followed under his own name

said.” Jim is representative of a new class of per-

by a spy novel, The Anti-Death League (1966), in

son in postwar England, a member of the hitherto

which he expresses an essentially atheistic world-

less-privileged classes who by talent and study

view. The Green Man (1969) is a supernatural

are beginning to make inroads into the bastions

story set in a country hotel. In 1973 he published

of the traditionally privileged. Novelist David

a detective story, The Riverside Vil a Murder, and

Lodge commented on the novel’s significance

to end that decade he published Col ected Poems

for him: “Lucky Jim was another magic book for

1944–1979 (1979).

me—and for most English readers of my age and

Amis’s best novel from the 1980s, The Old

background, upwardly mobile, scholarship-win-

Devils (1986), takes place among a group of aging

ning, first-generation university graduates—for

drinkers in Wales. Critic James Wolcott describes

it established precisely the linguistic register we

it as “so dense with booze that the book seems

needed to articulate our sense of social identity,

sunken, subaquatic, its retired Welsh sots trying

a precarious balance of independence and self-

to remain standing in an aquarium stocked with

doubt, irony and hope.” The novel placed Amis

gin and drifting hunks of scenery.” It won the

in the company of other contemporary writers

Booker Prize.

whom critics labeled Angry Young Men.

Amis was knighted in 1990 and the following

Critics are divided about Take a Girl Like You

year published his Memoirs, wherein he settles old

(1960). Many believe it is Amis’s best work, while

scores with his many literary and personal ene-

just as many feel it is marred by a misogynistic

mies. Amis’s son Martin Amis has been publish-

plot. In this book Patrick Standish attempts to

ing novels since the 1970s and has become nearly

seduce virginal Jenny Bunn. He gives her an ulti-

as popular and respected as his father. Kingsley

matum: “I can’t carry on any longer as we are. I’ve

Amis will be remembered for his wildly funny

tried but it’s too much of a strain. I love you and

comedies and his experiments with genre fiction.

want to sleep with you. I can’t go on seeing you

As scholar Robert Bell put it, “The funniest writer

and not.” He ultimately succeeds only when she

of our time is also one of the most troubling.”

is drunk. The work is fraught with a sort of moral

ambivalence and marks a turn in Amis’s “comic”

Other Works by Kingsley Amis

fiction toward darker themes. Malcolm Brad-

Girl, 20. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1972.

bury praised the work: “It opened the way for

That Uncertain Feeling. New York: Harcourt Brace,

Amis to take on a new kind of writing, in which


the 1960s mood of sexual liberation and then of

growing male-female conflict were to be dominant

Works about Kingsley Amis

themes.” Around this time, Amis became a pub-

Amis, Martin. Experience: A Memoir. New York:

lic figure, and many critics feel that his time and

Talk Miramax Books, 2000.

energies became dissipated in television appear-

Bradford, Richard. Lucky Him: The Biography of

ances, literary squabbles with other authors, and

Kingsley Amis. London: Peter Owen, 2001.

side projects such as his “Amis on Drink” column

Jacobs, Eric. Kingsley Amis: A Biography. New York:

for Penthouse.

St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

Amis, Martin 17

Leader, Zachary. The Life of Kingsley Amis. New

Isabel Fonseca, and expressed a preference for

York: Vintage, 2007.

inventive America over stodgy England. In his

memoir Experience (2000), Amis laments the

exhausting pace that comes with being a famous

Amis, Martin (1949– ) novelist, essayist,

novelist: “You arrive in each city and present


yourself to the media; after that, in the evening

Born in Swansea, Wales, and educated in Oxford,

. . . you appear at the bookshop and perform.”

Martin Amis is the son of author Kingsley Amis

Early in Amis’s career, he held editorial posi-

and his wife, Hilly. Amis’s first novel, The Rachel

tions at the London Times Literary Supplement, the

Papers (1973), featuring a lusty teenage narrator,

Observer, and the New Statesman. After his novel-

earned him the Somerset Maugham Prize. His

writing career began, he regularly contributed

second novel, Dead Babies (1975), is an account of

essays and reviews to the New York Times Book

a decadent weekend at an English country house

Review, Vanity Fair, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire,

that goes horribly awry. Later stories and novels

and the New Yorker. Many of these essays are col-

deal with disasters of a more political nature,

lected in The Moronic Inferno (1986) and Visiting

including the collection Einstein’s Monsters

Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions (1993). Critic

(1987), about nuclear war; Time’s Arrow (1991),

Victoria N. Alexander, writing in Antioch Review,

a meditation on the Holocaust that created con-

argues that Amis has successfully positioned

troversy by suggesting memory can distort such

himself as the intellectual heir of Saul Bellow and

historical events; and The Information (1995), in

Vladimir Nabokov and credits him with “ruth-

which a frustrated novelist decides to ruin his

lessly brilliant comedy.”

best friend’s political ambitions.

Amis prefers to depict emotionally trying situ-

Critical Analysis

ations rather than well-adjusted characters. In

Martin Amis’s career has generated more contro-

the murder novel London Fields (1989) he writes,

versy than his books. His feuds with other writers

“Who but Tolstoy has really made happiness swing

and critics, the half-million-pound advance he

on the page?” Many of Amis’s novels depict char-

insisted on for The Information, and his relation-

acters who are emotionally or spiritually numb at

ship with his father, novelist Kingsley Amis, have

the outset but attain some sort of renewal.

all conspired to make Amis a larger-than-life fig-

Amis makes use of science fiction and fantasy

ure in contemporary British literature. Although

conventions in much of his work. Dead Babies, for

the critical reception of his work has been sharply

instance, takes place in the near future and fea-

divided, his impact on younger generations of

tures a protagonist who has become rich running

writers is undeniable.

an abortion factory. Other People, A Mystery Story

The sardonic wit and self-conscious verbal

(1981) takes place in an afterlife. In Time’s Arrow,

play of his novels have earned Amis comparisons

time reverses itself, taking an elderly former Nazi

with Vladimir Nabokov, while some critics have

back through the 20th century. More conventional

evoked Jonathan Swift in pointing out his taste

is Amis’s screenplay for the 1980 movie Saturn 3,

for moralistic satire. Like his father, Amis is most

in which a madman and his killer robot attempt to

interested in the constantly changing state of

destroy a research station on Saturn’s moon Titan.

English society, including all its fads, buzzwords,

Amis has been likened to a rock star by the

and trends, which he mercilessly dissects with his

British press, who watched closely as in recent

sharp, descriptively inventive prose.

years he secured unprecedented large advances

His early novels, The Rachel Papers, Dead Babies,

from publishers, learned he had an illegitimate

and Success, were groundbreaking in their approach

daughter, divorced his wife, married fellow writer

and material. They fol ow the misadventures of

18 Andrews, Corinne

England’s depraved youth through joyless drug

as Samuel Beckett. He believed these novels

abuse, sexual perversion, and arbitrary violence.

ignored such realistic issues as unemployment

Critics praised Amis’s deliberate attempts to be truly

and class warfare, diminished the relevance of

nasty, welcoming the energy and honesty he brought

fiction, and fostered an elitist mentality among

to his depictions of a society in decline.

writers. His novel Scenes from Provincial Life

However, Amis emerged from the shadow

(1950) reintroduced the techniques of the realist

of his father’s work with his 1984 novel Money.

novel and emphasized the importance of an indi-

Taking on subjects such as greed and the increas-

vidual’s own experiences as a way to learn about

ingly pervasive (and, in Amis’s view, pernicious)

the world.

American influence on British culture, Amis cre-

Cooper’s novel appealed to a group of young

ates one of his most memorable characters, the

writers, including John Osborne, Kingsley

ad man John Self. Having gained a reputation by

Amis, Malcolm Bradbury, and John Braine.

making shocking commercials for pornography

These writers were searching for a sense of stabil-

and cigarettes, Self takes on a major film produc-

ity in the turbulent postwar British society and

tion in New York City only to watch it fall apart,

applauded Cooper’s rejection of experimental

to his professional ruin.

fiction, in addition to his cynical view of middle-

In this book, Amis developed the distinctive

class materialism and concern for social status.

blend of flashy prose, self-conscious chic, biting

In 1956 the journalist J. B. Priestley described

social critique, and postmodern play (one of the

Osborne as an “angry young man.” The name

characters, a snobbish British writer, is named

was soon extended to the entire group who, along

Martin Amis) that has characterized much of

with Osborne, despised the bourgeoisie.

his later work. It also established a pattern in his

The level of their “anger” differed. In Osborne’s

novels of writing about writers. Regardless of his

play Look Back in Anger (1956), the main charac-

critical reception, however, Amis has left a per-

ter, Jimmy Porter, though a university graduate,

manent and substantial mark on succeeding gen-

runs a market stall in the working-class commu-

erations of writers.

nity. In Braine’s novel Room at the Top (1957), the

protagonist Joe Lampton derides materialism but

Other Works by Martin Amis

privately craves the affluent possessions he lacks.

Experience: A Memoir. New York: Talk Miramax

Amis, in Lucky Jim (1952), portrays the life of Jim

Books, 2000.

Dixon, who strives to attain a position as a profes-

Heavy Water and Other Stories. New York: Harmony

sor even though he views himself as a victim of

Books, 1999.

the system.

House of Meetings. New York: Vintage, 2008.

Despite their differences, these characters

Money. New York: Viking, 1984.

share a helplessness and frustration with the

Night Train. New York: Harmony Books, 1997.

social system. An inability to change British

Success. New York: Harmony Books, 1978.

society ultimately unites them. The writers of the

Angry Young Men movement, however, did suc-

cessfully offer an alternative to abstract modern

Andrews, Corinne

fiction. They led a return to clearly delineated

See West, Rebecca.

plots, precise character portrayal, and the use of

lucid language to communicate ideas. The critic

Kenneth Allsop has asserted that the movement

Angry Young Men

had a stronger technical influence than a social

In 1952 the novelist William Cooper denounced

one, arguing that “if you accept that a novel’s

the “experimental novel,” favored by writers such

function is to be the image of the society it draws

Arden, John 19

its life from, it is precisely there that the new

everyday battles that shape the lives of his main

writing fails.” But at the same time, the authors

characters. In his introductory note to Live Like

exhibited “an innovating, restless talent . . . that

Pigs he states, “When I wrote this play I intended

was needed.”

it to be not so much a social documentary as a

study of differing ways of life brought sharply

A Work about the Angry Young Men

into conflict and both losing their own particular

Taylor, David J. After the War: The Novel and English

virtues under the stress of intolerance and mis-

Society Since 1945. London: Chatto and Windus,

understanding.” Arden’s first plays frequently had


only the barest of sets, so that the focus is on the

dialog exchanges between his characters. The lack

of elaborate staging often gives these dramas an

Anthony, C. L.

improvisational feel.

See Smith, Dodie.

Named the “most promising playwright” by

the London Evening Standard in 1960, Arden cap-

tivated audiences through his examination of the

Arden, John (1930– ) playwright, critic,

character of English life during and after the tur-


bulent years of the 1960s and 1970s. Much of his

John Arden was born in Yorkshire, England, to

later work was greatly influenced by his collabora-

Charles Alwyn Arden, a glass factory manager,

tion with his wife, Margaretta D’Arcy. Together

and Annie Elizabeth Arden. Arden was edu-

they wrote a number of plays, radio dramas, and

cated at Cambridge and the Edinburgh College

documentaries for television. In 1974 they received

of Art, where he studied architecture. In 1957

an award from the British Arts Council for The

his first play, The Waters of Babylon, the story of

Island of the Mighty. First produced in 1972, this

a pimp who cleverly deceives those around him,

historical play explores the themes of exploitation

was accepted for production by the Royal Court

and oppression in the context of Great Britain’s

Theatre. Arden sets up the unappealing nature of

relationship to the rest of the world.

his main character, Krank, in the opening scene:

Arden has moved away from the theater

“Why don’t I wash my cups and plate more often

because of changing working conditions for play-

than only once a week? ’Cause I am man of filthy

wrights that put profitability above the creative

habit in my house, is why.”

process. These shifts, he claims, have inhibited

Arden’s early work earned him a place among

his ability to express himself fully as an artist. He

the Angry Young Men, a group including King-

has, however, continued his interest in the stage,

sley Amis, John Osborne, and John Wain. This

and in 1977 published To Present Pretence: Essays

group was characterized by their scorn for both

on the Theatre and its Public, a critical analysis of

aristocratic tradition and the new British wel-

the modern theater.

fare state. Arden’s play Live Like Pigs (1958), for

Arden’s solo radio play, The Old Man Sleeps

example, traces the struggle between tenants in a

Alone, (1982) was included in Best Radio Plays of

housing project and the British Housing Author-

1982. His novel Silence Among the Weapons (1982)

ity. “Why don’t you folk leave us alone?” declares

is set in the period of the Roman Empire and dis-

one of the main characters, Rosie, “We didn’t

cusses the important influence that Rome had

come here cos we wanted; but now we are here

over the people of the Mediterranean. The novel

you ought to leave us be.” The New York Times

was a finalist for the Booker Prize in 1982.

called the play “[r]ibald, brawling, roaring.”

Many critics consider Arden one of the most

These early works also reveal Arden’s Marx-

original voices in modern British theater. As

ist analysis of class struggle, manifested in the

John Russell Taylor writes in the introduction to

20 Armitage, Simon

Arden’s Three Plays (1975), “Arden has contin-

scenes with the eye of a social historian and often

ued to shatter any preconceptions we might have

climaxes in seriocomic moments, as in “Poem,”

about what to expect from him almost before they

one of his most famous pieces: “And every week

have formed in our minds. . . . Arden is a genuine

he tipped up half his wage / And what he didn’t

original, and far more important than the differ-

spend each week he saved. / And praised his wife

ences between his plays and those of his contem-

for every meal she made. / And once, for laugh-

poraries is the internal consistency which makes

ing, punched her in the face.” As with many of

them a logical, coherent progression, all first,

his peers, he adapts more traditional rhythms

foremost, and unmistakably the product of one

and forms to his subject, largely eschewing formal

exceptional mind.”


Several of his subsequent collections, Kid

Other Works by John Arden

(1992), Book of Matches (1993), The Dead Sea

The Business of Good Government. New York: Grove

Poems (1995), and CloudCuckooLand (1997) were

Press, 1963.

short-listed for the prestigious Whitbread Poetry

Left-Handed Liberty. New York: Grove Press, 1965.

Prize and T. S. Eliot Prize, as well as winning

Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance. New York: Grove Press,

several others, including a Sunday Times Young


Author of the Year and the inaugural Forward

Prize. His later poetry has turned to broader

Works about John Arden

cosmic and millenarian themes, and in 1999 he

Malick, Javed. Toward a Theatre of the Oppressed:

wrote the 1,000-line poem Kil ing Time on the

The Dramaturgy of John Arden. Ann Arbor: Uni-


versity of Michigan Press, 1995.

In addition to his poetry, Armitage is known

Wike, Jonathan. John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy.

for his plays, television work, and prose. His

New York: Garland, 1995.

best-selling memoir, All Points North (1998),

takes the pulse of northern England, and sev-

eral of his films have become cult hits, includ-

Armitage, Simon (1963– ) poet,

ing Drinking for England (1996). Although his

playwright, novelist

deadpan humor and keen eye for contemporary

Simon Armitage was born in Huddersfield, a

urban life make him a popular writer, his fine

large town in West Yorkshire, England, on May

attention to craft owes much to his devotion to

26, 1963. After graduating from Portsmouth Uni-

W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice. Recently,

versity with a degree in geography, he earned an

he has published two novels, Little Green Man

M.A. from Manchester University and worked as

in 2001 and The White Stuff in 2004, that explore

a probation officer from 1988 to 1994. Since then

the darker side of thirtysomething life in the

he has taught at the University of Leeds as well

United Kingdom. He has also completed a well-

as at the renowned University of Iowa Writers’

received translation of Sir Gawain and the Green

Workshop. He currently lectures at Manchester

Knight (2007).

Metropolitan University.

His first poetry collection, Zoom! (1989),

Other Works by Simon Armitage

earned him a place among the new generation of

The Anaesthetist. London: Prospero Poets, 1994.

poets with its fresh mix of street smarts, stand-

Moon Country (with Glynn Maxwell). London:

up comedy, pub talk, and serious social critique.

Faber and Faber, 1996.

Armitage would continue to make good use of

Selected Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 2001.

his years in social work in later collections. His

Tyrannosaurus Rex versus the Corduroy Kid. Lon-

poetry examines contemporary characters and

don: Faber and Faber, 2006.

Ashton-Warner, Sylvia 21

The Universal Home Doctor. London: Faber and

facts and characters in the development of plot.

Faber, 2002.

Arnott, who currently lives in London, was rec-

Xanadu. London: Bloodaxe, 1992.

ognized as one of the 100 most influential gay and

lesbian people in the United Kingdom in 2005.

Arnott, Jake (1961– ) novelist

Another Work by Jake Arnott

Jake Arnott was born in 1961 in Buckingham-

Johnny Come Home. London: Sceptre, 2006.

shire, United Kingdom. The exact place and date

of his birth is something of a mystery and does

not appear in any of his official biographies.

Ashton, Winifred

Arnott left school without completing a course

See Dane, Clemence.

of study, and, although he is a popular novelist

with many well-known admirers, he classifies

himself as an “autodidact,” or one who is self-

Ashton-Warner, Sylvia (1908–1984)

taught. Arnott’s experiences as a laborer, model,

novelist, nonfiction writer

theatrical agent’s assistant, actor, and technician

Sylvia Ashton-Warner was born in Stratford, New

in a mortuary have given him a firm knowledge

Zealand, to a father crippled by arthritis, so her

of the daily lives of people who work in a variety

mother, Margaret Warner, supported the family

of occupations, and he uses these raw materials in

by teaching in remote country schools. At first

his fiction, which often is gritty and shocking.

Ashton-Warner resisted becoming a teacher, fear-

A bisexual, Arnott is known for his explora-

ing the profession would stifle her creativity as a

tions of the gay culture and organized crime in

writer and painter. However, she graduated from

England, which began with his first novel, The

Auckland Teachers’ College and, from 1938 to

Long Firm, in 1999 and culminated in a trilogy

1955, she worked with her husband, Keith Hen-

with He Kil s Coppers (2001) and truecrime [sic]

derson, teaching Maori children to read. After

(2003). The 30 years encompassed by the trilogy,

Henderson’s death in 1969, she was invited to set

beginning in the 1960s, recounts the crosscur-

up an alternative school in Colorado, an experi-

rents between crime and entertainment, focusing

ence she described in her nonfiction work Spear-

upon characters who live outside the mainstream

point: Teacher in America (1972). At her death,

of daily life.

Ashton-Warner was recognized as a pioneer in

Arnott, however, rejects being classified as a

both New Zealand literature and education.

gay novelist. He consistently has argued that a

Ashton-Warner’s first novel, Spinster (1959),

public profile based on sexuality alone is incom-

is also her most acclaimed. Anna Vorontosov is

plete and unfair to the individual so classified.

a single teacher working in a Maori school who

Arnott has a keen ear for the dialogue of his

tries to integrate the inner world of her emotions

characters, who come from several walks of life,

with the outer reality of her teaching. Ashton-

and he has a firm understanding of popular cul-

Warner’s decision to tell Anna’s story in the pres-

ture in a time when Britain was a leader in the

ent tense, interrupted only by the voices of her

entertainment industry and of the rhythms of the

young students, “conveys the poetry and color of

underworld, both gay and straight, in the years

a special kind of experience from within the mind

that followed. The first novel of the trilogy has

of a woman of sensibility,” according to reviewer

been adapted as a serial drama for the BBC.

Ruth Blackman.

Arnott’s work is reminiscent of the American

The nonfiction Teacher (1963), based on

crime novelist James Ellroy in that it places fic-

Ashton-Warner’s success with teaching strug-

tional characters alongside verifiable historical

gling learners to read, expresses her philosophy of

22 Atkinson, Kate

teaching, which builds on the knowledge students

taking a job as a chambermaid, then matriculat-

already have and the words that have meaning for

ing at the University of Dundee. After graduating

them. The book won her international recogni-

in 1974 with an M.A. in literature, she pursued

tion as an innovative educator.

doctoral work on postmodern American short

Ashton-Warner’s novel Greenstone (1967),

stories, studying American writers such as Don-

while also considered innovative, received mixed

ald Barthelme and Kurt Vonnegut. Their satirical,

reviews. To critic Elinor Baumbach, only the Maori

visually experimental, nonlinear style informed

characters seem real. However, reviewer Eleanor

Atkinson’s work as well.

Dienstag says this fable for adults expresses two

A brief marriage resulted in the birth of her first

themes that recur throughout Ashton-Warner’s

daughter, Eve. Atkinson began writing stories in

work: “. . . the channeling of destructive energies

1982, after the birth of her second daughter, Helen.

into creative ones . . . and her dream of two differ-

One of these stories won the 1986 Woman’s Own

ent but complementary cultures, the Maori and

Short Story Competition, convincing Atkinson

the Western.”

to pursue writing seriously. Her story “Karmic

Among Ashton-Warner’s three autobiographi-

Mothers” won the prestigious Ian St. James prize

cal works, I Passed This Way (1979) is the most

in 1993; the attention Atkinson received for this

complete. Reviewer Linda B. Osborne notes that

encouraged her to write her breakthrough novel,

Ashton-Warner “builds her self-portrait through

Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

a series of images that hold for her a special mean-

This novel won the Whitbread Book of the Year

ing,” which is consistent with her belief that the

award in 1995, beating works by authors such as

“key vocabulary” consists of words that evoke

Salman Rushdie. This sprawling work traces the

deep feeling and make a child eager to use these

life of Ruby Lennox, an unusually self-aware nar-

words in reading and writing.

rator, from conception to death as she weaves a

In 1982 Ashton-Warner was recognized as

complicated tapestry of the lives of her family. Its

a Member of the Order of the British Empire

postmodern style, at once playful and profound,

(MBE) for her services to New Zealand education

and its concern for the details of everyday life have

and literature. Sylvia, a feature film based on her

led to Atkinson’s work being described as “Kurt

autobiographies, was produced by Michael Firth

Vonnegut meets Jane Austen.”

in 1985.

Atkinson’s second novel, Human Croquet

(1997), spans an even greater arc, starting with

A Work about Sylvia Ashton-Warner

the creation of the universe and ending with

Hood, Lynley. Sylvia! The Biography of Sylvia Ash-

the return of the primeval forest to industrial-

ton-Warner. New York: Viking, 1989.

ized England. Despite its scope, however, it too

focuses on the history of a large family by jump-

ing between events in a nonchronological way. A

Atkinson, Kate (1951– ) novelist,

third novel, Emotional y Weird: A Comic Novel

playwright, short story writer

(2000), parodies academic life. The circumlo-

Kate Atkinson was born on December 20, 1951, in

cutions and typographical experiments char-

York. Her parents owned a medical supply shop,

acteristic of Atkinson’s writing in these novels

above which they lived, and Atkinson spent much

are stylistically reminiscent of Laurence Sterne’s

of her childhood reading voraciously. Her favorite

Tristram Shandy, but her aim differs consider-

book, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Won-

ably from Sterne’s: while Tristram Shandy is a

derland, would come to heavily influence her own

bawdy, comic novel, Atkinson’s work critiques

work. After secondary school, she failed entrance

the darker side of middle-class English life,

exams to Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh,

revealing family secrets such as incest, domestic

Atwood, Margaret 23

abuse, and adultery. In addition to her highly

comic tale of a woman who fears marriage and

acclaimed novels, Atkinson has also written

stops eating.

a collection of short stories, Not the End of the

Atwood’s most celebrated novel, The Hand-

World (2002), and two plays, Nice (1996) and

maid’s Tale (1985), is set in a horrifying future

Abandonment (2000).

society, Gilead, where women are condemned to

illiteracy and servitude. The novel purports to

Other Works by Kate Atkinson

be the recorded narration of Offred, a servant:

Case Histories. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.

“Where the edges are we aren’t sure, they vary,

One Good Turn. New York: Little, Brown, 2006.

according to the attacks and counterattacks;

but this is the centre, where nothing moves. The

Works About Kate Atkinson

Republic of Gilead, said Aunt Lydia, knows no

Clark, Roger. “Kate Atkinson.” In Dictionary of Lit-

bounds. Gilead is within you.” Critic Sandra

erary Biography. Vol. 267, Twenty-First-Century

Tomc sees the novel as a critique not merely of

British and Irish Novelists, edited by Michael R.

male oppression but also of American domina-

Molino. Southern Illinois University at Carbon-

tion over Canada: “In the nightmare future she

dale. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2002.

imagines, women have succumbed to a totalizing

Parker, Emma. Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at

patriarchy. Appropriately, given Atwood’s con-

the Museum: A Reader’s Guide. New York: Con-

flation of feminism and nationalism, Canada, in

tinuum, 2002.

some analogous gesture, has succumbed to its

Smith, Jules. “Kate Atkinson.” Contemporary

totalizing southern neighbor.”

Writers Online. British Council Arts. Available

The Robber Bride (1993) focuses on the

online. URL: http://www.contemporarywriters.

demonic Zenia’s haunting of her three friends,

com/authors/?p=auth4. Accessed December 7,

robbing them of their money and men. This book


has dark gothic undertones: “Zenia, with her dark

hair sleeked down by the rain, wet and shivering,

standing on the back step as she had done once

Atwood, Margaret (1939– ) novelist, poet

before, long ago. Zenia, who had been dead for

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, to

five years.” Alias Grace (1996), which continues

Carl Atwood, an entomologist, and Margaret Kil-

Atwood’s exploration of gender and power, is

lam Atwood, a nutritionist. She spent her child-

based on the true story of Grace Marks, a servant

hood accompanying her father on his researches

accused of murdering her master in 1843.

in the wilderness of Quebec. She graduated from

Atwood’s most recent novel, Blind Assassin

the University of Toronto with a B.A. in 1961,

(2000), tells three interconnected stories, beginning

received an M.A. from Radcliffe in 1962, and

with a woman, Iris Griffin, telling of her sister’s

did some graduate work at Harvard University,

death in 1945. This novel won the Booker Prize.

beginning a thesis on gothic fiction.

Fellow Canadian writer Alice Munro comments:

Atwood’s first published work, Double Perse-

“It’s easy to appreciate the grand array of Margaret

phone (1961), was a book of poetry exploring the

Atwood’s work—the novels, the stories, the poems,

mythological figure Persephone. Her most impor-

in all their power and grace and variety. This work

tant collection of verse, The Circle Game (1966),

in itself has opened up the gates for a recognition

uses gothic imagery to explore issues of gender.

of Canadian writing all over the world.”

For example, the first poem, “This Is a Photo-

graph of Me,” is narrated by a dead woman: “The

Critical Analysis

photograph was taken / the day after I drowned.”

Atwood has said that she deferred writing The

Her first novel, Edible Woman (1969), is a darkly

Handmaid’s Tale for more than three years after

24 Auden, Wystan Hugh

the idea for the novel first came to her because

Certainly the most frightening aspect of The

she feared that the concept was too “crazy,” even

Handmaid’s Tale is how logically it flows from

for a work of dystopian fiction. During those

current events and trends. Atwood herself said, “I

three years, however, she began to see things that

found myself increasingly alarmed by statements

seemed to confirm her ideas and fears, including

made frequently by religious leaders in the United

a charismatic Catholic sect that refers to women

States; and then a variety of events from around

as “handmaids” and, in Atwood’s words, tells

the world could not be ignored, particularly the

women to “sit down and shut up.” In the 20 years

rising fanaticism of the Iranian monotheocracy.

since the work was first published, even more of

The thing to remember is that there is nothing

the circumstances Atwood depicts in the novel

new about the society depicted in The Handmaid’s

seem to have come to pass, making the work all

Tale except the time and place. All of the things

the more frightening to read.

I have written about have . . . been done before,

The novel opens in a not-too-distant future.

more than once.” Without vigilance, Atwood sug-

The United States has been taken over by a fun-

gests, it can happen again.

damentalist Christian sect whose primary aim is

to govern the nation by what they take to be bibli-

Other Works by Margaret Atwood

cal precepts. Their particular focus is on women,

Cat’s Eye. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

whose primary roles are as wives and mothers. To

The Door. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

help enforce male domination, women are forbid-

Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor, 2004.

den to read, own property, or hold jobs and are

Power Politics. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

divided into discrete groups that are marked by

the color of clothing they wear. The protagonist of

Works about Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a handmaid, called Offred,

Cooke, Nathalie. Margaret Atwood: A Biography.

who must wear red. She is a virtual slave in the

Toronto: ECW Press, 1998.

household of the Commander and his wife, Serena

Nischik, Reingard M., ed. Margaret Atwood: Works

Joy, a former televangelist. The couple has been

and Impact. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House

unable to have children—a common circumstance


in this dystopian future because of toxic air and

Wisker, Gina. Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace: A

water pollution—and Offred is expected to bear a

Reader’s Guide. New York: Continuum, 2002.

child for them. Should she fail, she will be sent to

the home of another Commander, where she will

take his name (Offred is “of Fred”). If she fails three

Auden, Wystan Hugh (1907–1973) poet,

times, she will be declared an Unwoman and sent

dramatist, critic, librettist

to clean up toxic waste dumps, along with other

W. H. Auden was born in York, England, the

women deemed unfit or irredeemable.

youngest son of George Augustus Auden, a medi-

The world of The Handmaid’s Tale is a fascist

cal doctor with far-ranging interests. His mother,

social order, in which spies are everywhere and

Constance Rosalie Bicknell Auden, was a nurse

even the most minor misdeeds may lead to death

and a devout Anglican, who passed on her love

by stoning in what were once sports venues—

of music to her son. The Auden family was Scan-

much as women are stoned to death by Islamic

dinavian in origin, and Auden was brought up on

extremists. Those who do not accept the new

the Icelandic sagas. The year after he was born,

religion, pro-choice advocates, and homosexu-

his father became medical inspector of schools

als are executed by hanging, and their bodies are

in the industrial city of Birmingham. York and

displayed on “The Wall” as a warning to others.

Birmingham both left their mark, for Auden’s

Blacks and Jews are transported and resettled.

favorite rural and urban landscapes remained

Auden, Wystan Hugh 25

those of England’s Pennine uplands (celebrated

cism. He frequently rewrote his work, thus com-

in “In Praise of Limestone,” 1948) and modern

plicating its study. Auden believed that spheres

industrial cities.

of action and art are separate and that “poetry

Auden grew up interested in science and litera-

makes nothing happen.” Nevertheless, he recog-

ture and considered becoming a mining engineer,

nized the power of words and wielded them with

but at 15 he determined to become a great poet,

care. He removed from his canon poems he found

though he remained attracted to science. His

less than truthful.

broad and erudite reading led to verse abounding

Auden’s literary career has three major phases

in scientific and technical terms. Auden became

that may be labeled psychological, political, and

both a private poet and a public spokesman—the

religious. During the earliest phase, from 1928

intellectual conscience of the generation that grew

through the mid-1930s, his poetry was influenced

up in the 1930s between two world wars.

by the psychologists and psychoanalysts Sigmund

After his education at St. Edmund’s School and

Freud, John Layard, Homer Lane, and Georg

Gresham’s in Norfolk, Auden entered Oxford in

Groddeck. As Stephen Spender remarked,

1925. At St. Edmund’s he met his lifelong friend,

Auden’s early verse diagnoses ills in individuals

novelist Christopher Isherwood; at Oxford

and the body politic: “Sometimes Auden’s poems

he met fellow poets Louis MacNeice and Cecil

are more symptomatic than curative; sometimes

Day-Lewis. While at Oxford he fell under the

they concentrate . . . on the idea of a cure.” The

spell of T. S. Eliot, who exerted a brief influence;

poem “Petition” (1929), beginning “Sir, no man’s

but more durable were earlier influences such as

enemy,” illustrates the difficulty of the early clini-

Anglo-Saxon and Middle English poetry and the

cal verse. To this period belong Poems 1930, The

writers Thomas Hardy and W. B. Yeats.

Orators, and The Dance of Death.

Upon graduating from Oxford, Auden spent

Auden’s second, or political, phase began with

1928–29 in Berlin. He was a natural teacher and

Spain (1937), written as a result of firsthand expe-

returned to become a schoolteacher. During the

rience of the Spanish civil war. It lasted through

1930s he went to Iceland with MacNeice and to

the early 1940s and coincides with the period of

Spain and China with Isherwood. On the eve of

Auden’s world travels, embracing the verse plays

World War II, he and Isherwood immigrated to

written with Isherwood: The Dog beneath the Skin

the United States, where Auden taught at various

(1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Fron-

universities. America gave him an international

tier (1938). The first is a Brechtian parable, the

point of view and helped him forge a truly inter-

second about a mountaineering expedition, and

national English style.

the third concerns two families living in hostile

In 1939 Auden met Chester Kallman, who

states. At this time Auden was strongly influenced

became his life’s companion. The two men col-

by Marxist ideas, though he was never a member

laborated on several opera libretti, including

of the Communist Party.

Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1951). In 1946

The third major phase began with Auden’s

Auden became an American citizen. He returned

emigration to the United States and his return

to Oxford late in life to become professor of

to religion. He rejoined the Anglican Church in

poetry (1956–61) and writer-in-residence at his

New York, and dominant influences were Søren

old college. He died in Vienna and is buried in

Kierkegaard and Reinhold Niebuhr. To this

Kirchstetten, Austria.

period belong the long poems New Year Letter

(1940), For the Time Being (1945), and The Age of

Critical Analysis

Anxiety (1947). Also called The Double Man, New

Auden was a complex and versatile poet who

Year Letter follows the Kierkegaardian division of

produced numerous volumes of poetry and criti-

life into aesthetic, ethical, and religious spheres.

26 Auden, Wystan Hugh

Auden described For the Time Being, written to

Auden’s technical expertise and virtuosity

honor his deceased mother, as a Christmas ora-

were such that he was able to write poems of all

torio. In The Age of Anxiety four lone individuals

kinds and to bring new luster to complex and

try to make sense of their lives. This period also

outmoded kinds. His elegies for Sigmund Freud,

includes what many believe was Auden’s fin-

W. B. Yeats, and Henry James obey classic con-

est decade, the 1950s, when he published Nones

ventions but are contemporary. He rehabilitated

(1951), The Shield of Achil es (1955), and Homage

the ode and has left many fine ballads and son-

to Clio (1960). An example of the masterly style

nets. Auden is also celebrated for a form of poem

of this period is “In Praise of Limestone,” which

he wrote throughout his career: the paysage


moralisé, or moralized landscape. From the Ger-

man poet Rilke he learned to regard the human

. . . when I try to imagine a faultless love

in terms of the nonhuman. Thus, Auden endows

Or the life to come, what I hear is

landscape with human characteristics, viewing

the murmur

human beings as products of different kinds of

Of underground streams, what I see

landscape or environment, as in the sequence

is a limestone landscape . . .

Bucolics (1953), about those who inhabit woods,

mountains, lakes, plains, streams, and islands.

Some critics subdivide this period, noting that

“In Praise of Limestone” is perhaps the finest

from the 1960s until his death, Auden wrote the

example of this genre.

cozy, domestic poems contained in About the

Like his themes, Auden’s style changed over

House (1966), Epistle to a Godson (1972), and

the decades. The early poems were riddling and

Thank you, Fog (1974).

obscure partly because they were studded with

Auden’s poetry is, as Auden scholar Richard

references understood only by a few friends. Thus,

Hoggart observes, characteristically that of an

“Petition” opens with the deliberately snarled

“abstracting and generalizing intelligence.” Auden

syntax of “Sir, no man’s enemy, forgiving all/But

himself said that his subject was not nature, but

will its negative inversion, be prodigal.” The early

mankind in its relation to nature—often a man-

poems are also much indebted to Anglo-Saxon

made nature. His poems view human life from

poetry. For example, “The Three Companions”

a distance, as from a great height, set within

begins, “O where are you going?” (1931) with

a dwarfing geological or evolutionary frame.

hammer-beat rhythms and striking alliteration

Although his poetry is concrete and specific, it

and assonance, giving it the vigor of Anglo-Saxon

is also abstract and not at all sensuous. Auden’s


poems contain striking images, but they are

In his later years, Auden developed a more

images devoid of color, smell, or taste. This is not

relaxed and limber style, distinguished by a rich,

a visual poetry. Consider, for example, the poem

exuberant, and dazzling vocabulary and by verse

“May,” which opens: “May with its light behaving/

often based on syllabics as well as, or instead of,

Stirs vessel, eye, and limb.”

strong and weak accents. Auden is regarded by

Despite their abstractness, however, Auden’s

many as the 20th-century’s preeminent poet in

poems can be most moving because of, not despite,

English. For 40 years he influenced and inspired

their complex thought. Consider the famous

generations of poets on both sides of the Atlan-

“Lullaby” (1937), which begins “Lay your sleeping

tic. As John Hollander observed in a tribute on

head, my love”; or “Musée des Beaux Arts” (1939),

Auden’s 60th birthday, he was “the most articu-

with its seemingly casual colloquial opening,

late and cosmopolitan of all English poets born

“About suffering they were never wrong,/The Old

in this century.” He was also a perceptive and

Masters . . .”

rewarding critic in volumes such as The Enchafèd

Ayckbourn, Alan 27

Flood (1950), The Dyers’s Hand (1962), and Selected

stage. On Joseph’s death in the late 1960s, Ayck-

Essays (1964).

bourn returned to Scarborough as a theatrical

director after a few years producing radio drama

Works about W. H. Auden

for the BBC in Leeds.

Bahlke, George W. Critical Essays on Auden. Bos-

Ayckbourn became a prolific and successful

ton: G. K. Hall, 1991.

writer of sharp, sometimes bittersweet comedies

Carpenter, Humphrey. W. H. Auden: A Biography.

about British middle-class and suburban manners

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981.

and mores. The Stephen Joseph Theatre serves

Davenport-Hines, Richard. Auden. New York: Pan-

as an ideal proving ground for his plays. Ayck-

theon, 1995.

bourn writes “team” dramas for performance by

Haffenden, John, ed. W. H. Auden: The Critical Heri-

a known troupe of actors for a familiar audience

tage. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.

in an intimate setting. Since the early 1970s, his

Hecht, Anthony, The Hidden Law: The Poetry of W.

pattern has been to write a play for summer pro-

H. Auden. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer-

duction in Scarborough, followed by a season in

sity Press, 1993.

London a year later.

Kirsch, Arthur. Auden and Christianity. New Ha-

Ayckbourn’s first few plays, written under the

ven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005.

pseudonym Roland Allen, have not been pub-

Mendelson, Edward. Early Auden. New York: Vi-

lished. His first published play, Standing Room

king, 1981.

Only (1961) is about overpopulation resulting

———. Later Auden. New York: Farrar, Straus & Gi-

from a monumental traffic jam. Relatively Speak-

roux, 2000.

ing (1967) established Ayckbourn as a presence on

Smith, Stan. W. H. Auden. New York: Blackwell,

the London stage. Modeled on Oscar Wilde’s The


Importance of Being Earnest, the play substitutes

Ayckbourn’s own brand of jokes for Wildean wit

and epigram.

Ayckbourn, Alan (1939– ) playwright,

In Ayckbourn’s plays, setting is as important as


character. Relatively Speaking shows his ingenu-

Alan Ayckbourn is the only son of Horace Ayck-

ity in staging by simultaneously presenting two

bourn, a former first violinist of the London Sym-

juxtaposed households. More elaborate staging is

phony Orchestra, and Irene Maud Worley, a writer

deployed in How the Other Half Loves (1971), in

of romances. His mother divorced his father when

which an upper-class household is superimposed

Alan was five and then contracted a second failed

upon a lower-middle-class one. The audience

marriage. It is probable these broken marriages

is able to distinguish the Fosters’ tasteful abode

contributed, along with Ayckbourn’s own first

from the Phillips’ cluttered nest through color

unsuccessful marriage at an early age, to the criti-

and style contrasts. Ayckbourn’s sense of tim-

cal portrayal of marriage in his plays, which show

ing and sequence are impeccable. The handling

increasing disillusionment with the institution.

of time in this play is unusual, as events do not

Ayckbourn’s grandparents were music-hall

occur in chronological order. Critic Albert Kalson

performers, and early in his own career, he alter-

calls this play, which made Ayckbourn’s name on

nated acting with stage direction. He toured with

Broadway, one of the playwright’s “most felicitous

Donald Wolfit’s repertory company, but his most


important career move was joining the Stephen

Absurd Person Singular (1973) follows the

Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, Yorkshire, in

antics of three couples (upper-, middle-, and

1959. Stephen Joseph, son of actress Hermione

lower-class) who join one another in a series of

Gingold, encouraged Ayckbourn to write for the

Christmas reunions, each act taking place in one

28 Aydy, Catherine

of the couples’ kitchens. The play, in which the

In Sisterly Feelings (1981) Ayckbourn explores

battle of the sexes is enhanced by class warfare,

alternative endings and different permutations

won the Evening Standard Award for the year’s

and combinations of plot, depending on a coin

best comedy.

toss in the second scene. After his wife’s burial,

Ayckbourn’s most popular drama is his trilogy

Ralph Matthews takes his daughters, Abigail and

The Norman Conquests (1974), which he called

Dorcas, to the park where he first proposed to his

his first “offstage action play.” The three dramas it

wife. Both girls are unhappily married; both are

comprises— Table Manners, Living Together, and

attracted to young Simon Grimshaw. They toss a

Round and Round the Garden—take place during

coin to see who will walk back to town with him,

a single weekend in different parts of the same

and the winner of the toss will have an affair with

country house. Action and conversation that take

him. After that, each woman must decide what

place “off” in one play are picked up in another.

to do, but in the end each returns to her unsat-

The three interlinked dramas were intended to be

isfactory spouse in the play’s unvarying final act.

presented on three successive days, like the action

Though the playwright sets out to explore how

itself. However, each play is self-contained so they

chance and choice affect our lives, the play’s ulti-

may be viewed in any order.

mate effect is deterministic.

The success of The Norman Conquests is due

Ayckbourn’s drama combines conventional

largely to the in-depth development of its charac-

subject matter with experimental stage techniques

ters. Norman, a scruffy librarian, is a compulsive

in the handling of time and space. Some find a

philanderer, manipulator, and narcissist. Mar-

disproportion of manner to matter in his plays.

ried to practical Ruth, Norman plans to take his

On the other hand, his work shows continuous

sister-in-law, Annie, away for a weekend of illicit

experimentation and increasing skill, particularly

passion. (Unmarried Annie could use a break, as

in character development, as well as the ability to

her life has been sacrificed to looking after her

distill the essence of what is universally funny in

bedridden mother.) Reg, Ruth’s brother, and his

relations between British suburbanites. It seems

wife, Sarah, come to relieve Annie. However,

likely that, of his many plays, some of those dis-

they are not “in the know,” believing that she

cussed here will survive for years to come.

will be weekending with her dithering old flame,

Tom. When she discovers Annie’s secret, Sarah

Works about Alan Ayckbourn

resolves to overthrow the lovers’ plans, until

Billington, Michael. Alan Ayckbourn. New York:

Norman propositions her as well. At this point

Grove Press, 1984.

Norman’s wife returns, intent on retrieving her

Dukore, Bernard F. Alan Ayckbourn: A Casebook.


New York: Garland, 1991.

The winner of numerous awards, The Norman

Page, Malcolm, ed. File on Ayckbourn. London:

Conquests marked a new mood in Ayckbourn

Methuen, 1989.

comedy—more bitter and astringent and with

more rounded characters than those of his 1960s

comedies. The mood of Ayckbourn’s comedy has

Aydy, Catherine

darkened even further since the mid-1980s.

See Tennant, Emma.


Bainbridge, Beryl Margaret (1933– )

of the Titanic. In a manner very reminiscent of


James Cameron’s motion picture Titanic (1997),

Beryl Bainbridge was born in Liverpool, England,

Bainbridge’s novel places prominent American

to Richard Bainbridge, an unsuccessful salesman,

figures on the ship (for instance, a young man

and Winifred Bainbridge. The couple quarreled

with ties to J. P. Morgan), tells a coming-of-age

constantly, and Beryl’s childhood was tumultu-

story, and details the social interactions on the

ous and unhappy. With some formal training

ship before it sank in 1912. In a passage indicative

in dance, she ran away to London at age 15 and

of the novel’s attention to social interaction, the

began an acting career that lasted until 1972.

narrator comments, “I found Lady Duff Gordon

After years of acting in repertory theaters and

entertaining. . . . She had a long thin face and a

on the radio, and after a failed marriage, Bain-

haughty expression, but that was just her style.”

bridge began her writing career. She has acknowl-

Bainbridge has been criticized for unbelievable

edged the influence of Charles Dickens and

plots that contain often repulsive violence, such as

Robert Louis Stevenson, whose work she imitated

episodes of stalking and rape, but despite this criti-

as a child, and her fiction often explores the vio-

cism she is a well-regarded novelist. The scholar and

lence, ambitions, and everyday lives of the lower

critic Frank Kermode has written that Bainbridge

middle classes. Harriet Said (1973), Bainbridge’s

is a unique and powerful writer and describes her

first novel, includes most of these elements. Based

as “an odd and in a mutated way fantastic talent.”

on an Australian newspaper story, the novel

Another scholar, Barbara Millard, agrees: “Bain-

retells a complicated murder plot in which a

bridge has emerged as one of the most original . . .

young girl seduces an older male neighbor to kill

of contemporary British novelists.”

her mother. Because of its violence and immoral

characters, the novel went unpublished for more

Critical Analysis

than a decade.

Beryl Bainbridge has been described as a master

Later in her career Bainbridge wrote historical

of psychological realism; her command of detail

novels based on much more well-known events.

and highly concise, even laconic style allow her to

Her Whitbread Award–winning novel, Every

create a vivid and dark atmosphere of desperation

Man for Himself (1996), is based on the sinking

in her depictions of England’s lower middle class.


30 Ballard, James Graham

In her early novels her characters are all severely

In addition to her mastery of black comedy,

disappointed somehow, whether in failed romantic

controlled bursts of violence, and the nuances

relationships, careers, or friendships. These char-

of laconic dialogue, Bainbridge is known for

acters remain stuck in their painful situations,

her tightly woven plots. Every Man for Himself,

prevented by their fear of the larger world from

a reconstruction of the sinking of the Titanic, is

starting a new life or pursuing positive change. Her

particularly admired for its proliferation of inter-

characters are both stiflingly ordinary and pro-

twining subplots, set ironically in all their com-

foundly eccentric, retreating into idealism and

plexities against the backdrop of the impending

romanticism in attempts to escape poverty and

disaster. It is no surprise that Bainbridge’s talents

boredom. These attempts inevitably fail.

have earned her a reputation as one of Britain’s

Critics have praised Bainbridge’s ability to

most inventive novelists.

mirror her characters’ unstable, fragmented lives

in extremely compressed prose. She achieves such

Other Works by Beryl Bainbridge

economy only through great labor, sometimes

The Birthday Boys. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1994.

producing as many as 20 pages for every one

Winter Garden. New York: Braziller, 1981.

that ends up in a book, then relentlessly cutting

everything she deems redundant. Her early works

A Work about Beryl Bainbridge

draw heavily on autobiographical material as well

Wenno, Elisabeth. Ironic Formula in the Novels of

as current events. Bainbridge has said, “I pinch

Beryl Bainbridge. Göteborg, Sweden: Acta Uni-

newspaper stories that have a strong narrative

versitatis Gothoburgensis, 1993.

plot, then put in everything I can remember about

my family and friends.”

Her later works focus on historical figures such

Ballard, James Graham (1930– )

as Adolf Hitler ( Young Adolf), portraying them in


the light of human frailty and vulnerability. As

J. G. Ballard was born in Shanghai, China, to James

with all her novels, these works feature charac-

Ballard, a business executive, and Edna Johnston

ters who are scarcely admirable or even likeable,

Ballard. In 1937 Japan seized Shanghai, and while

but Bainbridge nevertheless succeeds in making

other families fled, the Ballards remained, con-

them sympathetic figures. They also feature her

vinced that the British Empire’s battle fleet based

characteristic dark humor; for instance, while

in Singapore guaranteed them protection. After

young, despairing, poverty-stricken Adolf Hitler

Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, however, the Ballards

is visiting his brother Alois in London in 1910, he

were captured and sent to a prison camp outside

receives a brown shirt from his sister-in-law, dis-

of Shanghai. Ballard became separated from his

covers the attractions of routines and uniforms by

family and found himself struggling to survive on

working as a hotel bellboy, and ultimately resolves

his own. Eventually, he chose to join his family in

never to mention that he has been to England,

the prison camp at the expense of freedom.

since he comes to despise the culture in which he

After World War II, the Ballards moved back

can find no place of his own. Characteristically,

to Shepperton, England. Later he would remark,

Bainbridge depicts bad people—including some-

“Although I’ve lived in Britain for over 50 years

one like Hitler—not as inherently evil, but rather

I suspect I still see everything through a visitor’s

as products of their relationships with others.

eyes, and I think that gives my fiction its particu-

“What I do try to explain, albeit ineptly,” she has

lar perspective, [a] heightened awareness of the

said, “is that goodness, like badness, is fostered or


abandoned through the connivance or example of

The experience of war haunts Ballard’s first

other people.”

four novels, in each of which a global catastro-

Banks, Iain M. 31

phe, linked to the unbalancing of an ecosystem,

metal replace water as the dominant image. The

destroys civilization. In The Wind from Nowhere

landscape, no longer natural, is wholly consumed

(1962), high-velocity winds literally blow away

by the concrete and steel of highways, buildings,

human civilization and all its surface artifacts.

and cars. Through graphic images of broken bones

Rising world temperatures cause massive flood-

and bloody death, Crash portrays life as an open

ing in The Drowned World (1962), while drought

wound. The narrator, a fictional James Ballard, is

plagues the Earth in The Burning World (1964).

part of a cult whose members purposefully crash

Finally, in The Crystal World (1966) living crea-

their cars as a reaction against the unnaturalness

tures are transformed into crystal statues.

of their lives and their world. While hospitalized

Ballard’s early novels are steeped in images

from one such crash, the narrator thinks of the

of desolation that reach back to the stress of his

many types of wrecks that he and his now-dead

war-ravaged childhood and his separation from

mentor, Vaughan (killed in a car smashup), once

his family. (The 1964 death of Mary Matthews,

visualized: “I think of the crashes of psychopaths,

whom he had married in 1953, only deepened his

implausible accidents carried out with venom and

abiding sense of abandonment.) Thus, Ballard’s

self-disgust . . . the crashes . . . of manic-depres-

landscapes, vacant of human life (often all life), are

sives crushed while making pointless U-turns . . .

strange and terrifying. They are landscapes filled

of sadistic . . . nurses decapitated in . . . crashes on

with recurrent images of decay and water, as in the

complex interchanges.” The litany in part numbs

opening of The Crystal World: “The darkness of the

not only the pain of Vaughan’s loss but also the

river . . . impressed Dr. Sanders. . . . [T]he surface

narrator’s guilt in feeling insufficient pain over

of the water was still gray and sluggish, leaching

that loss. Ballard, critic Peter Briggs writes, “seeks

away the somber tinctures of the collapsing vegeta-

to identify things (and people made into things

tion along the banks.” The image of the river water

by the media) as external representations of the

eating away at the vegetation on the bank evokes

inner map of the contemporary psyche.”

the mysterious crystal plague that is eating away at

the living world. Moreover, this passage illustrates

Other Works by J. G. Ballard

Ballard’s “unmistakable style,” which, according

Cocaine Nights. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint,

to filmmaker Michel Deville, “alternates between


the bald and the baroque, the clinical sanity of the

Rushing to Paradise. New York: Picador, 1994.

scientist and the raw, convulsive energy of Surreal-

Super-Cannes. New York: Picador, 2001.

ism [the production of fantastic imagery through

unnatural and incongruous combinations].”

Works about J. G. Ballard

Ballard’s experiences before and during his

Luckhurst, Roger. The Angle Between Two Wal s: The

Japanese internment formed the basis for two

Fiction of J. G. Bal ard. New York: St. Martin’s

autobiographical novels: Empire of the Sun (1984)

Press, 1997.

and its sequel, The Kindness of Women (1991). In

Orr, Ken. J. G. Bal ard. Vancouver, B.C.: Macmillan

the first book Ballard describes how numbingly

Library Reference, 1997.

routine death becomes for the barely teenaged

boy: “Wars came early to Shanghai, overtaking

each other like the tides that raced up the Yang-

Banks, Iain M. (1954– ) novelist, short

tze and returned to this gaudy city all the coffins

story writer

cast adrift from the funeral piers of the Chinese

Iain Banks was born February 16, 1954, in Dun-


fermline, Fife, Scotland, and he enjoys a dual

In Ballard’s trilogy, Crash (1973), Concrete

career as a writer of science fiction and more gen-

Island (1974), and High Rise (1975), concrete and

erally literary fiction. Because of a clerical error

32 Banville, John

when his birth was registered, he officially has no

schooling, Banville took a job with the Irish air-

middle name, but he uses the initial of the middle

line, Aer Lingus. Thanks to Aer Lingus’s employee

name his parents intended for him. He writes sci-

discount, he was able to travel all over the world,

ence fiction as Iain M. Banks and publishes his

once flying to San Francisco for £2. Of his fam-

other work as Iain Banks. Divorced, Banks now

ily and his youthful travels, Banville has said his

lives in North Queensferry, Scotland.

parents were “small people; small, good, decent

Banks studied philosophy, psychology, and

people, who lived very circumscribed lives. Leav-

English literature at Stirling University in Scot-

ing the nest so early was hard for them and, when

land. He is a member of both the National Secular

I look back now, I realize how cruel I was,” a com-

Society and the Humanist Society of Scotland.

ment that sounds remarkably like many of Ban-

He is known as a supporter of Scottish inde-

ville’s introspective, confessional narrators.

pendence, and this is often addressed in his work.

Banville lived in the United States from 1968

Also a lover of sports car, Banks shares with many

to 1969, where he met and married textile artist

his concerns about global climate change. He made

Janet Dunham, with whom he has two sons. It

headlines in 2007 when he sold his collection of

may have been Banville’s demeanor as he wrote

luxury automobiles and replaced it with a single

that contributed to the end of the marriage; his

hybrid model. He also bought a house equipped

wife has said living with him as he created was

with a wind turbine, further to minimize his life-

like living with “a murderer who has just come

style’s effect on the environment. When Britain

back from a particularly bloody killing.” He cur-

backed the United States in the invasion of Iraq

rently lives in Dublin with his partner, Patricia

in 2003, Banks became prominent in the failed

Quinn, and two daughters.

effort to oust Prime Minister Tony Blair because

When he returned to Ireland after his time in

of Blair’s strong support of the invasion.

the United States, Banville worked for the Irish

Press, as a subeditor, then an editor. In 1970 he

Other Works by Iain Banks

published a volume of short stories, Long Lankin,

The Algebraist. San Francisco: Night Shade, 2004.

to very good reviews.

Consider Phlebas. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

When the Irish Press went out of business in

Dead Air. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.

1995, Banville took a position with the Irish Times,

Look to Windward. New York: Simon & Schuster,

where in 1998 he was appointed literary editor.


Banville left the Irish Times in 1999 and has earned

Matter. London: Orbit, 2008,

his living as a writer ever since, although he con-

The Steep Approach to Garbadale. Boston: Little,

tinues to write reviews. He has written 18 novels

Brown, 2007.

including four that focus on the lives of scientists

The Wasp Factory. New York: Simon & Schuster,

and scientific ideas: Dr. Copernicus (1976), Kepler


(1981), The Newton Letter: An Interlude (1982), and

Mefisto (1986), collectively known as Banville’s

“scientific tetralogy.” In these works, Banville

Banville, John (1945– ) novelist

explores astronomy and mathematics as alternative

Born in Wexford, Ireland, on December 8, 1945,

methods or languages of perception. Following the

John Banville was the youngest of three children.

scientific tetralogy, Banville wrote his “art trilogy,”

Banville’s father was a clerk in a garage, and his

three novels narrated by art collector and murderer

mother was a homemaker.

Freddie Montgomery: The Book of Evidence (1989),

Banville received his education at a Christian

Ghosts (1993), and Athena (1995).

Brothers’ school in Wexford and also attended St.

Known as a writer’s writer, Banville writes

Peter’s College there. After having completed his

deliberately difficult novels. His writing is philo-

Banville, John 33

sophical and dense, full of literary allusions and

Saturday wrong, Banville replied, with deep sar-

esoteric language. Among the most accessible

casm: “Summoned, one shuffles guiltily into the

of his works, however, is the roman à clef The

department of trivia.” He thought the spat ended

Untouchable (1997). A roman à clef, literally, a

his chance of receiving the Booker for The Sea and

novel with a key, depicts true events and charac-

was quite surprised when he won. Surprised or

ters disguised as fiction. The Untouchable is based

not, Banville could not help commenting that “It

on the story of Anthony Blunt, a royal art curator

is nice to see a work of art win the Booker Prize,”

who was also a spy for the Soviet Union during

implying that past winners were not. Many crit-

the cold war.

ics were dismayed that Banville was chosen over

Banville has won numerous prizes for his work.

several more popular writers and expressed their

In 1973 he won both the Allied Irish Banks’ Prize

opinions in the press. Banville responded, “If they

and the Arts Council Macaulay Fellowship for his

give me the bloody prize, why can’t they say nice

novel Birchwood. Dr. Copernicus was awarded the

things about me?”

American Ireland Fund Literary Award (1975)

and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fic-

Critical Analysis

tion (1976). The Book of Evidence was nominated

The Sea (2005) has been praised as Banville’s fin-

for the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most presti-

est novel. Like many of his works, the plot of The

gious award for fiction, in 1989, and in the same

Sea can be summarized in a few words. The rich-

year won the Guinness Peat Aviation Award. His

ness of the story is in its language and the com-

novel The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005.

plex consciousness of the narrator rather than in

Banville claims that every Irish writer must

the sequence of events. Max Morden, an aging

be influenced by either James Joyce or Samuel

Irish art critic, has recently lost his wife of many

Beckett. Although he wrote his first, unpublished

years. Overwhelmed by grief, Morden, whose last

novel at the age of 12 (a poor imitation, he says,

name itself suggests death, can no longer stand

of Joyce’s Dubliners), Banville feels his literary

to stay in the house where he and his wife lived

ancestor is Beckett, and the similarity can be seen

together. Thus, he decides to return to the Irish

in the dark humor that characterizes Banville’s

seaside town of Ballyless, where he spent his sum-

work, in his many narrators searching desperately

mers as a youth. His stay at Ballyless this time is

for meaning, and in his Irish and European land-

punctuated by memories—memories of meeting

scapes. Other influences include the French nov-

his wife, Anna; their long marriage; her diagnosis

elist Marcel Proust, the Russian novelist Fyodor

of cancer; her long dying; memories of his parents

Dostoyevski, and the British playwright Harold

and youth; growing up in shabby apartments; and

Pinter. Referring to his beautifully tuned prose

staying in the humble chalets at Ballyless, where

and his clever and learned use of the language,

those who could not afford better spent their holi-

many critics have compared Banville with the

days; memories, too, of the Graces, a family stay-

Russian-born novelist Vladimir Nabokov.

ing at a beautiful home known as “The Cedars,”

Banville has a reputation of being rather cur-

whose wealth and sophistication fascinated Max.

mudgeonly when it comes to literary fiction, which

It is through the Graces—whose name, too, is

he feels is not ordinarily given the recognition it

suggestive of all Max sees in them—that Max first

is due, and he has very high standards regarding

learns about both love and death.

what he considers good writing. In a review of fel-

Banville’s prose style is rich. His descriptions—

low novelist Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2006), Ban-

which some have called baroque, referring to the

ville called the work “a dismayingly bad book.”

highly ornamented style of painting and music

When criticized by one of the judges for the

that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries—

Booker Prize for getting a few minor details about

are unforgettably vivid. The Sea begins:

34 Barker, Audrey Lillian

They departed, the gods, on the day of the

the indifference of the universe to human hopes.

strange tide. All morning under a milky sky

The sea even invades Max’s dreams. He sits near

the waters in the bay had swelled and swelled,

the water’s edge, where the little waves “speak

rising to unheard-of heights, the small waves

with an animate voice, whispering eagerly of some

creeping over parched sand that for years had

ancient catastrophe, the sack of Troy perhaps, or

known no wetting save for rain and lapping

the sinking of Atlantis. All brims, brackish and

the very bases of the dunes . . . The seabirds

shining. Water beads break and fall in a silver

mewled and swooped, unnerved, it seemed,

string from the tip of an oar. I see the black ship

by the spectacle of that vast bowl of water

in the distance, looming imperceptibly nearer at

bulging like a blister, lead-blue and malig-

every instant.”

nantly green.

American novelist Don DeLillo cites Banville’s

“grim gift for seeing people’s souls.” Indeed,

These are, of course, the words of Max Morden,

Banville writes with a terrible honesty about the

and his anguish and despair can be heard in every

human condition: everyday dishonesties, mis-

syllable. The world he sees is grim, cancerous,

takes, misremembered memories, and cruelties.

dangerous, and insignificant at the same time. He

imagines his fellow lodgers at the Cedars (now a

Other Works by John Banville

rooming house where he stays) as sleepless as he,

Christine Falls. Writing as Benjamin Black. New

“lying awake . . . glooming gaunt-eyed into the

York: Holt, 2007.

lead-blue darkness,” and even a piece of furniture

Eclipse. New York: Vintage, 2002.

seems to reflect Max’s despair: “A chintz-covered

Shroud. New York: Vintage, 2002.

sofa sprawls as if aghast, its two arms flung wide

The Silver Swan. Writing as Benjamin Black. New

and cushions sagging.”

York: Holt, 2008.

During his stay at the Cedars in Ballyless, Max

The Untouchable. New York: Knopf, 1997.

does little but thinks constantly, sorting out his

youth, his marriage, his work, his relationship

Works about John Banville

with his daughter Claire, and the summer he spent

Hand, Derek. John Banvil e: Exploring Fictions.

adoring the Graces. This is a dark, elegiac novel,

Dublin: Liffey Press, 1991.

and it cannot be said that Max recovers from his

Imhoff, Rüdinger. John Banvil e: A Critical Intro-

wife’s death or even that he gains a reason to go

duction. Dublin: Irish American Book Company,

on living, in any conventional sense. Yet he does


learn something about himself. He worries that

McMinn, Joseph. John Banvil e, a Critical Study.

he did not really know his wife, then thinks, “I

Dublin: Gill and McMillan, 1991.

know so little of myself, how should I think to

———. The Supreme Fictions of John Banvil e. Man-

know another?” Then he is struck with another

chester: Manchester University Press, 1999.

realization, “The truth is, we did not wish to know

each other.” Then another, “I wanted to be some-

one else.” This final realization links Morden’s

Barker, Audrey Lillian (1918–2002) short

marriage to his youthful love of Chloe Grace and

story writer, novelist

of her mother. Desperately trying not to be the

A. L. Barker was born in St. Paul’s Cray, Kent,

person he was, Max adores the Graces and loses

England. Her father, Harry Barker, was an engi-

himself in their world. His marriage to Anna was

neer; her mother, Elsie Dutton Barker, cleaned

part of the same process of escape.

houses for a living. Barker attended primary and

The sea is the controlling metaphor of the

secondary county schools until the age of 16,

novel, as it comes to represent both change and

when her father, who disapproved of her school-

Barker, George Granville 35

ing, forced her to take a job with a clock-mak-

Other Works by A. L. Barker

ing firm. In 1949 Barker took a position with

The Haunt. New York: Virago, 1995.

the BBC, where she remained until she retired

The Woman Who Talked to Herself. New York: Vin-

in 1978.

tage, 1991.

Barker’s first volume of short stories, Inno-

cents (1947), won the Somerset Maugham Award.

In “Submerged” she explores the antagonism

Barker, George Granville (1913–1991)

between adults and youths, one of her favorite


themes. Peter Hume, a young boy, decides that “it

George Barker was born in Loughton, Essex,

was his parents who really irritated him by their

England, to George Barker, a constable, and

transparent tact. . . . It confirmed his suspicion

Marion Frances Taaffe Barker. He attended sec-

that there was nothing but a great deal of willful

ondary school in London but dropped out at the

mystery in adult affairs.”

age of 14. He then held a series of jobs ranging

In later collections Barker featured female

from garage mechanic to wallpaper designer.

main characters, of varying age and social posi-

At 16, Barker decided he would be a poet. From

tion, placed in traditional English settings. For

1930 onward he supported himself through

example, in Femina Real (1971) she explores the

writing and teaching at universities around the

strength and vulnerability of women as daugh-

world. Barker had a long affair with novelist and

ters, wives, mothers, and friends.

poet Elizabeth Smart with whom he had four

Barker’s short story collections have been


praised for their fresh vision in describing char-

Barker was 20 when he published his first

acters caught in extreme situations. Critic Fran-

book of poetry, Thirty Preliminary Poems (1933).

cis King, reviewing Life Stories (1981), wrote that

Influenced by the poet Louis MacNeice, Barker

these qualities exist in her stories because Barker

had a despairing concern for the social condi-

is concerned “with the jarring impact caused by

tions of the time. In the poem “Elegy Number 1,”

a collision between innocence and experience.”

he writes, “Lovers on Sunday in the rear seats of

Reviewers have also described Barker’s works as

the cinemas / Kiss deep and dark, for is it the last

offbeat, surreal, memorable, and written with


a commitment to language and craftsmanship.

T. S. Eliot helped Barker publish his second

Awards she has won include the Cheltenham Fes-

collection of verse, Poems (1935). This volume,

tival Literary Award and the Katherine Mansfield

like his first, reflects his despair about life and his

Short Story Prize.

thoughts of death. The next year William But-

Although best known for her short stories,

ler Yeats made Barker the youngest contributor

Barker also attained limited recognition as a nov-

in his Oxford Book of Modern Verse (1936).

elist. The Gooseboy (1987), her most popular and

One of Barker’s most successful collections,

critically acclaimed novel, describes the dignity

Eros in Dogma (1944), combines love poems with

and attractiveness of a deformed boy living with

elegiac laments about the burdens that external

a well-off family in southern France. David Pro-

forces place on individuals. He sparked con-

fumo, writing in the Times Literary Supplement,

troversy for his use of erotic images in his long

commented, “If A. L. Barker is . . . ‘a writer’s

autobiographical poem The True Confession of

writer,’ her fiction admired by the few but not

George Barker (1950). This poem covered many

perhaps read by the many, it may well be because

of his common themes: the distortion of sex, an

her novels to date have seldom enjoyed plots as

impenitent loss of faith in God, and the loss of

enthralling and quirky as those that have made

love for other humans. Critic E. G. Burrows noted

her short stories so distinctive.”

that while Barker often treated those themes with

36 Barker, Howard

a lack of respect, “Behind the clever lines there is

Nearly all of Barker’s plays reflect his belief

a tense battle being waged and it is Barker’s genius

in socialism while confronting the issues of

to show us the value of this struggle and the toll

class conflict and state power. No End of Blame

it has taken even in the midst of his most urbane

(1981)—which the scholar Andrew Parkin


assesses as Barker’s best production to date for its

Although Barker won a handful of poetry

“acute and varied . . . analysis of state power”—is

awards in his career, including the Guinness

representative of most of the playwright’s work.

prize and Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize, he

The protagonist, Bela, is a cartoonist searching for

remained overshadowed by the other acclaimed

a country or government in which he can express

poets of his day, such as Dylan Thomas. By the

himself as he wishes. During the play, which

1970s Barker’s poetry volumes were attracting

spans both World War I and World War II, Bela

little attention.

moves from Russia to England and is rebuked for

Neglected for much of his career, Barker

his political beliefs and philosophical outlook in

finally enjoyed a widespread critical reappraisal

each location. Finally, near the end, he meets his

of his work four years before his death when he

ultimate defeat when his supervisor fires him,

published Col ected Poems (1987). Reflecting on

commenting, “It is the board’s feeling that there

his merits, biographer Martha Fodaski wrote that

is a quality of—depression—in your work—of

Barker created “. . . poetry of conscience. And, as

nihilism—which makes it inappropriate . . . to a

the conscience of his times, he explores the effects

national, family newspaper.”

of the people, the events, and the ideas of an era

The Wrestling School, an acting company,

and a life upon the human heart.”

has performed Barker’s plays since 1988, and

under the playwright’s own direction since the

Other Works by George Barker

mid-1990s. Beginning with the production of

III Hallucination Poems. New York: Helikon Press,

his first stage play, Cheek (1971), a grotesquely


comic play about conflict between a dying father

Vil ar Stel ar. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1978.

and his adolescent son, Barker has written more

than 45 plays that are aimed mostly toward audi-

Works about George Barker

ences who share his leftist political orientation.

Fodaski, Martha. George Barker. Boston: Twayne,

In assessing Barker’s ultimate contribution to


drama, the scholar Liz Tomlin has remarked that

Heath-Stubbs, John, and Martin Green, eds. Hom-

he is important for “[d]ismissing contemporary”

age to George Barker on his 60th Birthday. Lon-

drama as “obsessed with entertaining” and aspir-

don: Brian and O’Keefe, 1973.

ing to a more political, socially responsible, and

“intellectually demanding theatre designed to

challenge the prevalent . . . traditions.”

Barker, Howard (1946– ) playwright

Howard Barker was born in Norwood, England,

Other Works by Howard Barker

just south of London. His father, Sydney Charles

Arguments for a Theatre. New York: Manchester

Barker, was a unionized factory worker; his

University Press, 1986.

mother, Georgia Irene Carter Barker, was a

The Col ected Plays. New York: Riverrun, 1990.

homemaker. After Barker graduated from Batter-

sea Grammar School, where he often improvised

A Work about Howard Barker

short plays in the back of an army truck during

Itzin, Catherine. Stages in the Revolution: Political

his lunch breaks, he earned a B.A. and M.A. in

Theatre in Britain Since 1968. London: Methuen,

history from Sussex University.

1980, pp. 249–258.

Barker, Pat 37

Barker, Nicola (1966– ) novelist, short

tion of contemporary British towns, with their

story writer

ever-shifting populations, and the menacing

Nicola Barker was born on March 30, 1966, in Ely,

weight of history. A comment by Barker about

Cambridgeshire. She spent part of her childhood

this novel could just as well describe any of her

in South Africa but returned to Britain by the

characters, who are haunted by their dark pasts:

time she was 14. She studied English and philoso-

“The history’s the missing character; we live in

phy at King’s College, Cambridge, then worked at

the present, especially now, we live as if history

various jobs, including a bakery and a hospital, as

doesn’t really mean anything, but it really does.”

she wrote her first stories.

Her first two collections of short stories, Love

Other Works by Nicola Barker

Your Enemies (1993) and Heading Inland (1996),

Reversed Forecast. London: Faber and Faber, 1994.

were highly acclaimed prizewinners. In these sto-

Small Holdings. London: Faber and Faber, 1995.

ries, Barker presents eccentric, troubled charac-

The Three Button Trick. London: Flamingo, 2003.

ters living in bleak landscapes and surrounded by

absurdly comical forms of magical realism. This

A Work about Nicola Barker

became her characteristic mode, about which she

Clark, Alex. Interview with author. Guardian Unlim-

has commented, “There are writers who exist to

ited Online. Available online. URL: http:/ books.

confirm people’s feelings about themselves and to

make them feel comforted or not alone. That’s the

story/0, 2067760,00.html. Accessed December 7,

opposite of what I do. I’m presenting people with


unacceptable or hostile characters, and my desire

is to make them understood.”

Her third novel, Wide Open (1998), won the

Barker, Pat (1943– ) novelist

prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary

Born Patricia Margaret Drake to a working-class

Award in 2000, elevating Barker to a new level of

mother and unknown father in Thornaby-on-

regard in the literary establishment. Taking place

Tees, Pat Barker was brought up by her grand-

on the Isle of Sheppey, the book follows a number

parents. She was educated at the local grammar

of misfits who try to avoid their dark pasts, which

school, and in 1965 she earned a B.S. degree from

include pornography and pedophilia. In typical

the London School of Economics.

Barker fashion, the plot is obscured by dense but

Barker was nearly 40 when her first novel,

mesmerizing writing that conveys a deep sense of

Union Street (1982), won the Fawcett Prize and

authorial love for the characters, whose broken

she was instantly recognized as a strong new

lives cannot, by the novel’s end, be fixed.

voice. Barker has a faultless ear for dialogue, and

Two novels with similar approaches, Five Miles

her language, at once earthy and poetic, is bru-

from Outer Hope (2000) and Behindlings (2002),

tally blunt and direct.

garnered Barker further acclaim. In Clear: A

Barker’s first three novels— Union Street, Blow

Transparent Novel (2004), Barker offers a some-

Your House Down (1984), and The Century’s

what more straightforward vision of the magi-

Daughter (1986)—concern working-class women.

cian David Blaine’s 2003 stunt, in which he was

Union Street comprises seven stories about seven

suspended in a Plexiglas case without food for

women living on a street in the shadow of a fac-

44 days. Barker wrote the novel in three months,

tory in a northern postindustrial town. The char-

incensed by the derision that passersby expressed

acters range in age from 11 to 70, their successive

for Blaine.

tales representing seven stages of a woman’s life

Darkmans (2007), Barker’s longest and most

from adolescence through old age. This book

ambitious work yet, centers on both the desola-

was followed by a novel based on the serial killer

38 Barnes, Julian

known as the Yorkshire Ripper. Blow Your House

human eye dominates The Eye in the Door: The

Down centers on the Ripper’s victims, terror-

eye of the title signifies unrelenting surveillance.

stricken prostitutes; each of four parts presents

As Regeneration handles hysteria at the front,

one woman’s story.

its sequel addresses hysteria on the home front,

The central character of The Century’s Daugh-

showing pacifists, homosexuals, conscientious

ter is Liza Jarrett, the “sole remaining inhabitant

objectors, and feminists hunted down. In The

of a street scheduled for demolition.” Almost as

Ghost Road, Prior, returning for his final tour of

old as the century, she tells her life story to a social

duty, finds “ghosts everywhere. Even the living

worker. Liza figures, says scholar Sharon Carson,

were only ghosts in the making.”

as “Barker’s barometer to measure the country’s

Battles do not feature in Barker’s war novels.

afflictions, from the irrevocable losses of war to

Instead, she penetrates the battleground of men’s

the unraveling of family ties and the gradual dis-

minds, where subterranean forces drive them

solution of community.”

toward mass slaughter. Carson observes that

Barker next turned to novels addressing the

Barker “has an ingenious capacity to associate

experience of men at war, blending fiction with

differences and similarities, and to demonstrate

fact, notably in the trilogy encompassing Regen-

that it is often the differences that are similar.”

eration (1991), The Eye in the Door (1993), and

The Ghost Road (1995). The New York Times rated

Regeneration one of the four best novels of 1991.

Other Works by Pat Barker

The Eye in the Door won the Guardian prize, and

Another World. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,

The Ghost Road won the Booker Prize.


Barker’s novels employ a technique she calls

Border Crossing. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,

the “compound eye,” with a possible pun on “I.”


Characters become multifaceted through a pre-

sentation that permits them to tell their own sto-

Works about Pat Barker

ries yet also indicates how others see and react to

Alexander, Flora. Contemporary Women Novelists.

them. The view of life that emerges is hardheaded,

London: Edward Arnold, 1989.

realistic, unsentimental, and remarkable for its

Perry, Donna. Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out.

candor and integrity.

New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press,

Regeneration opens with war hero Siegfried


Sassoon’s “A Soldier’s Declaration,” his refusal

(in July 1917) to return to the front because of a

conviction that the war is evil, unjust, and insane.

Barnes, Julian (Dan Kavanagh) (1946– )

Persuaded by fellow poet Robert Graves to sub-

novelist, journalist, essayist

mit to a medical examination, Sassoon is classified

Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England.

“mentally unsound” and sent to Craiglockhart, the

Both of his parents were French teachers, and

military hospital under Dr. William Rivers that

the family moved to Northwood, a London sub-

specialized in treating shell shock. The fictional

urb, while Barnes was still young. After winning

character Billy Prior, subject of the succeeding

a scholarship, he attended the City of London

volumes The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road,

School. In 1964 he enrolled at Magdalen College,

was conceived by Barker as Rivers’s alter ego.

Oxford, to study languages. He spent the 1966–67

Well-chosen imagery unifies the trilogy. In

school year teaching in France, graduating from

Regeneration the “unspeakable” horrors soldiers

Oxford with honors the following year.

have witnessed cause some to become mute, like

After university, Barnes worked for several

witnesses of the Holocaust. The image of the

years as an editorial assistant for the Oxford

Barnes, Julian 39

English Dictionary. In 1972 he moved to London,

The parrot supposedly belonged to Flaubert while

studied law, and was admitted to the bar. Dur-

he wrote his short story “Un Coeur Simple.” But

ing this time he also began writing book reviews

Braithwaite soon sees another parrot bearing the

for the New Statesman, eventually accepting a

same claim. As Braithwaite continues his research,

position there as assistant literary editor. In sub-

he discovers more and more stuffed parrots, each

sequent years, Barnes worked as deputy literary

supposedly having belonged to Flaubert. Braith-

editor for the Sunday Times and as television

waite is unable to discover any evidence that

critic for the Observer. In 1979 he married Pat

would allow him to eliminate any of the parrots.


The novel highlights Barnes’s doubts about ever

While working as a journalist, Barnes also

knowing the truth, but it also reinforces his belief

began writing fiction. His first novel, Metroland

that truth exists. As the critic Merritt Moseley

(1980), reveals his interest in love and jealousy,

notes, “Braithwaite doubts the possibility of find-

themes he would pursue in many novels. Met-

ing out which was the ‘real’ Flaubert’s parrot, but

roland also introduces Barnes’s use of post-

this does not lead him to conclude that there was

modern narrative, characterized by a heavy use

no real parrot.”

of parody, an ironic tone, and a general skepti-

Barnes artfully combines the search for truth

cism toward art’s ability to explain life. Barnes

with his fascination with love and jealousy in

repeatedly explores the relationship between life

the novel Talking It Over (1991). The main char-

and art, and his narratives question the ability of

acter, Stuart, marries a beautiful woman named

individuals to understand either one. The main

Gillian, but his friend Oliver also falls in love

character of Metroland, a teenager named Chris-

with her and eventually seduces her. This novel

topher Lloyd, and his friend Toni initially reject

provides the best example of Barnes’s narrative

the middle-class lifestyle of their parents for a

experimentation, as each character addresses the

liberated, artistic existence. But as Lloyd ages, he

reader through a first-person account. Stuart,

marries, starts a professional career, and shelves

Oliver, and Gillian separately defend their own

his artistic aspirations. Toni, however, becomes

actions and comment on the motives of the other

an artist, and the novel urges the reader to com-

two. The multiple narratives also raise doubts

pare Lloyd’s acceptance of a normal life with

about each character’s veracity, causing the reader

Toni’s rebelliousness.

to question the truths each offers up during the

Barnes’s second novel, Duffy (1980), writ-

course of the novel.

ten under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, is a

Barnes continues to work periodically as a

crime thriller. Its main character, Nick Duffy, is a

journalist. In 1995 he published Letters from

bisexual private detective who has left the police

London, a collection of essays he had previously

force after being blackmailed by corrupt officers.

written for the New Yorker. He was also honored

Barnes has written three subsequent novels as

in France as an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des

Dan Kavanagh, each featuring Duffy. These nov-

Lettres. Although some critics have described his

els, unlike those published under Barnes’s own

postmodern narrative techniques as disjointed

name, employ more conventional plots and nar-

and unstructured, Barnes is repeatedly praised

ratives and contain many of the characteristics of

for his narrative variety and is humorously

the hard-boiled American crime thriller.

referred to as the best British author never to have

In 1984 Barnes published his best-known

won the Booker Prize. Merritt Moseley claims

novel, Flaubert’s Parrot, which is presented as a

that Barnes’s “unique mixture of literary experi-

nonfiction account written by an English doctor

mentation, intelligence, and dedication to the

named Geoffrey Braithwaite. While in France,

truths of the human heart . . . makes every book

Braithwaite sees a stuffed parrot in a museum.

an adventure.”

40 Barrie, James Matthew

Other Works by Julian Barnes

ther remembrances of his mother’s childhood

Before She Met Me. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.

experiences; and such plays as The Little Minis-

Cross Channel. New York: Knopf, 1996.

ter, which he adapted from his successful novel

A History of the World in 101½ Chapters. New York:

about a short minister who angers his neighbors

Knopf, 1991.

when he falls in love with a gypsy. Both the novel

Staring at the Sun. New York: Knopf, 1987.

and the play earned Barrie praise. His greatest

success, however, came with the 1904 production

A Work about Julian Barnes

of his play Peter Pan or the Boy Who Wouldn’t

Moseley, Merritt. Understanding Julian Barnes.

Grow Up.

Columbia: University of South Carolina Press,

Peter Pan is a magical boy from Never-Never-


Land, a place where boys and girls stay children

forever. “I don’t want to go to school and learn sol-

emn things,” Peter declares. “No one is going to

Barrie, James Matthew (1860–1937)

catch me, lady, and make me a man. I want always

novelist, playwright

to be a little boy and to have fun.” He befriends

J. M. Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, to

a girl named Wendy and takes her with him to

David Barrie, who owned and ran a loom busi-

Never-Never-Land to meet the Lost Boys, Peter’s

ness, and Margaret Ogilvy Barrie. He grew up

band of friends, and to do battle with a team of

in the shadow of his older brother, David. When

pirates led by the evil Captain Hook.

David died in a skating accident, six-year-old Bar-

The story of Peter Pan grew out of stories Barrie

rie tried to earn his mother’s affection and ease

told to the Davies boys, sons of Arthur and Sylvia

her pain by dressing up as his deceased brother.

Llewellyn Davies, whom Barrie had befriended

As tragic as this death was for Barrie’s mother,

in 1897. He cared deeply for the boys and would

it served as a kind of inspiration for Barrie. As

spend as much time with them as possible, mak-

he acted out the role of David, he realized that

ing up games and telling them stories, many of

his brother would never grow up, that he would

which were about Peter Pan, who was named after

always be 13 years old to their mother. When

young Peter Davies.

Barrie himself turned 13, he realized that there

Although Peter Pan began as a children’s char-

would come a time when his childhood would be

acter, and is certainly considered one today, Bar-

over. This idea frightened him, and as he grew up

rie did not initially intend his play to be only for

he discovered that he had a hard time relating to

children. As Cynthia Asquith writes in her biog-

adults, preferring the company of children, whom

raphy of Barrie, “He didn’t want children to take

he felt understood him better.

Peter Pan seriously. His favorite reaction to his

Barrie studied at Dumfries Academy at the Uni-

own play was that of the little boy who, favoured

versity of Edinburgh, where he received his degree

by a seat in the author’s box, and at the end inju-

in 1882. The following year he became a journalist

diciously asked what he had liked best, promptly

for the Nottingham Journal, and in 1885 he moved

replied: ‘What I think I liked best was tearing up

to London to work as a freelance writer. His first

the programme and dropping the bits on people’s

success came with a series of sketches based on his

heads.’ ”

mother’s stories of her childhood in Kirriemuir,

Barrie continued to write both plays and nov-

which Barrie renamed Thrums. Originally printed

els, including The Admirable Crichton (1902), a

in the St. James’s Gazette, the sketches were pub-

play about a butler who saves a shipwrecked fam-

lished as Auld licht idyl s in 1888.

ily but in the process reverses the roles of servant

Barrie found success as a novelist with such

and master; and his adult novel The Little White

popular titles as A Window in Thrums, the fur-

Bird (1902), the book in which Peter Pan is first

Barry, Sebastian 41

introduced as a character in stories told to a little

Captain Hook represents adulthood, the very

boy. Barrie rewrote his play as a children’s book

thing from which Peter Pan and the author Bar-

in 1911.

rie ran away. The ongoing battles between Captain

Barrie was famous for his generosity. In his

Hook and Peter Pan represent Barrie’s own struggle

later years he donated all royalties from Peter

between the world of responsibility and maturity

Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick

and the appeal of youth and playfulness. Living

Children in London. He answered his own fan

vicariously through his famous character, Barrie

mail and helped people with requests for jobs or

also made a considerable living from the popular-

advice. He received numerous honors before his

ity of Peter Pan. The income allowed Barrie to take

death, including the Order of Merit (1922), the

care of young people, as Peter looks after the Lost

Rectorship of St. Andrews University, and the

Boys. In 1929 Barrie designated that the copyright

Chancellorship of Edinburgh University.

to Peter Pan be left to England’s leading children’s

Barrie never lost touch with the boy within, and

care facility, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

his work was consistently shaped by this childlike

view. As critic Angel M. Pilkington wrote of Bar-

Works about J. M. Barrie

rie, “He believed in the power of emotion, but he

Birkin, Andrew. J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The

also was possessed of an irrepressible humor. He

Love Story That Gave Birth to Peter Pan. New

saw the pathos and beauty in humanity, but just

York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1979.

as clearly he perceived the confusions and the

Chaney, Lisa. Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.

cruelties. How else could he have made Peter Pan,

M. Barrie. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

Wendy, and Captain Hook?”

Dunbar, Janet. J. M. Barrie: The Man Behind the Im-

age. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970.

Critical Analysis

Wullschläger, Jackie. Inventing Wonderland. New

“Nothing that happens after we are 12 matters

York: Free Press, 1995.

very much,” noted James Barrie, though the best-

known representative of this idea is probably Peter

Pan. First created for a novel for adults entitled

Barry, Sebastian (1955– ) playwright,

The White Bird (1902), Barrie’s character of Peter

poet, novelist

Pan was brought to a younger audience in Peter

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin, Ireland;

Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906). A stage play,

his father was an architect and his mother, Joan

a novel, and countless adaptations have made the

O’Hara, an actress. He was educated at Trinity

“boy who wouldn’t grow up” a myth that cannot

College, Dublin, where he received a degree in

be forgotten.

English and Latin. He has lived in France, Greece,

The inspiration for creating Peter Pan was

Switzerland, England, and the United States, and

drawn from Greek mythology: Pan is the god of

currently lives in Wicklow, Ireland.

shepherds and flocks, the natural wilderness, and

Barry has won recognition primarily as a dra-

the season of spring. The world is a playground

matist. Boss Grady’s Boys, a play about two elderly

for Pan as well as for Peter Pan. “I’m youth, I’m

brothers performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dub-

joy, I’m the little bird that has broken out of the

lin, in 1988, won the first BBC/Stewart Parker

egg,” sings Peter Pan when he defeats the villain

Award. The Steward of Christendom, performed

Captain Hook. So much like Pan in his youthful

at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1995, won

energy, Peter Pan even dresses in the spirit of the

the Writers’ Guild award as well as many other

Greek god: his suit of green leaves evokes images

honors. The critically acclaimed script focuses

of springtime, and his pointed pixie hat and foot-

on Thomas Dunne, a former Dublin police com-

wear have a playful, juvenile look.

missioner, ranting, Lear-like, in a nursing home

42 Barstow, Stanley

circa 1932 about his memories of Ireland’s civil

Prayers of Sherkin/Boss Grady’s Boys: Two Plays.

war. Barry was a Writer Fellow at Trinity College,

Westport, Conn.: Heinemann, 1995.

Dublin, in 1995–96. His play Hinterland (2002)

The Rhetorical Town: Poems. Dublin: Dolmen Press,

concerns a retired politician, Johnny Silvester,


haunted by his past.

Time Out of Mind; and, Strappado Square. Dublin:

Although Barry’s first love is theater, he is also

Wolfhound Press, 1983.

an accomplished poet and novelist and has writ-

ten several books for children as well. His novel

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998) is about

Barstow, Stanley (1928– ) novelist, short

a rural Irish urchin who joins the British army

story writer

in World War I and finds himself, on his return,

Stan Barstow was born in Horbury, Yorkshire,

branded a collaborator with the hated British. He

England, to Wilfred Barstow, a coal miner, and

must spend the rest of his long life wandering, like

his wife, Elsie. Barstow attended grammar school

Virgil’s Aeneas; his travels over 70 years take him

in Ossett and in 1944 went to work as a draftsman

to places as diverse as France, Texas, and Nigeria.

for an engineering company in the town. Eigh-

The Times of London described the work as “a

teen years later he left his job to pursue a literary

novel reflecting on Irish history, Irish losses, Irish


enmities, with singular force, grace and beauty.”

Barstow emerged as a writer in the early 1960s

His latest novel, Annie Dunne (2002), is a much

soon after John Braine, Kingsley Amis, and

more static work, in which the drama unfolds

Alan Sillitoe began their literary careers. These

within the characters over a single summer

authors were part of the Angry Young Men, a

(1959). Much of the story’s joy lies in the sensuous

group of writers who wrote about heroes with

descriptions of rural life. Annie Dunne, the aged

rebellious and critical attitudes toward society.

daughter of the central character of Barry’s play

Barstow’s first novel, A Kind of Loving, (1960)

The Steward of Christendom, lives with her cousin

was his most successful. Its hero, Victor Brown,

Sarah in a remote Irish farmhouse. A nephew,

is a Yorkshire coal miner’s son who, seeking to do

who goes to England to seek work, leaves his two

what is right, marries a girl he does not love after

children in Annie’s care, and her growing love for

she becomes pregnant with his child. Critic Mau-

them opens her to unanticipated pain.

rice Richardson describes the book as “seductively

Barry’s prolific literary career has been devoted

readable and makes an interesting variation on

to a rich and complex evocation of Irish history

the much more familiar lower-than-middle-class

and contemporary life, often told from the point

picaresque genre in which the hero escapes traps

of view of the previously voiceless. John Lahr,

by clownish antics.”

reviewing the play Our Lady of Sligo for New

Barstow wrote two sequels to A Kind of Loving:

Yorker magazine in May 2000, said that Barry is

The Watchers on the Shore (1966) and The Right

“probably Ireland’s finest living dramatist.”

True End (1976). These books describe Victor’s

marital troubles, bitter divorce, and, after many

Other Works by Sebastian Barry

trials, eventual entrance into a more fulfilling

The Engine of Owl-Light. Manchester, England: Car-

relationship. At the end of the latter work, he

canet, 1987.

finally has real hope for the future: “I’m buoyed

Fanny Hawke Goes to the Mainland Forever. Dublin:

up by a happiness too powerful now for that tiny

Raven Arts Press, 1989.

seed of anxiety which in the small hours will

The Only True History of Lizzie Finn/The Steward of

bloom into terror at what the morning might

Christendom/White Woman Street: Three Plays.

bring.” Barstow later wrote a second trilogy— Just

Westport, Conn.: Heinemann, 1996.

You Wait and See (1986), Give Us This Day (1989),

Bates, Herbert Ernest 43

and Next of Kin (1991)—about a Yorkshire family

critical and popular success with his fourth novel,

during World War II.

The Fal ow Land (1932), which describes the dif-

The Desperadoes and Other Stories (1961) was

ficult existence of a woman who has to run a

the first of several of Barstow’s collections of short

farm and raise her sons while coping with her

stories. As in his novels, Barstow is realistic and

husband’s alcoholism.

compassionate in his depiction of the hardships

During World War II, Bates joined the Royal

faced by the working people in northern England’s

Air Force and wrote several morale-boosting short

industrial district. His stories are often tragic,

stories and novels under the pseudonym “Flying

like “Gamblers Never Win,” which describes an

Officer X.” The best known of these works, Fair

impoverished coal miner whose life unravels as he

Stood the Wind for France (1944), describes the

turns to gambling and drinking. Later collections

efforts of downed British flyers trying to escape

such as A Season with Eros (1971) have similar

from occupied France.

heartbreaking themes. For example, “Waiting”

Following the war, Bates wrote The Purple Plain

describes a selfish son who grows impatient while

(1947), The Jacaranda Tree (1949), and The Scarlet

waiting for his aging father to die.

Sword (1950), a trilogy about British outposts in

Critics have praised Barstow’s true-to-life

the Far East. Bates biographer Dennis Vannatta

works for capturing the tragedy of people from his

wrote that “[t]he virtue of The Scarlet Sword is its

class and region. Scholar Ingrid von Rosenberg

single-mindedness. It evokes the violent world of

writes that in Barstow’s novels, he “clearly wished

rape, murder, and torture that marked the Indian

to communicate . . . about a subject of common

partition with a relentlessness that forces the

social interest, thereby showing a social responsi-

reader to keep turning the pages.”

bility comparable to that of the bourgeois novel-

After 1950, Bates had more success with short

ists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”

fiction than with novels. He wrote about one of

his most popular characters in Sugar for the Horse

Other Works by Stan Barstow

(1957), a comedic collection about the lovable Eng-

B-Movie. London: Michael Joseph, 1987.

lish farmer Uncle Silas. Bates describes him as short

Joby. London: Michael Joseph, 1964.

and thick-built, with “some gay, devilish spark of

audacity which made him attractive to the ladies.”

Silas also likes to drink: “ ‘God strike me if I tell a

Bates, Herbert Ernest (Flying Officer X)

lie,’ he used to say, ‘but I’ve drunk enough beer, me

(1905–1974) novelist, short story writer

boyo, to float the fleet and a drop over.’ ”

H. E. Bates was born in Rushden, Northampton-

The comedy stories in The Darling Buds of May

shire, England, to Albert Ernest Bates, who ran a

(1958) introduced Bates’s popular Pop Larkin

shoemaking shop and later worked in a factory,

character, a freelance junk dealer and entrepre-

and Lucy Elizabeth Lucas. Bates had little interest

neur. Dennis Vannatta holds that Bates’s greatest

in school until a teacher inspired him to pursue

talent was in capturing the heart and soul of a

literature. He was accepted at Cambridge, but

locale and its people: “The farmers and poachers

for financial reasons he was unable to attend. He

and passionate women and violent young men,

started writing fiction in the early 1920s while

the fields and meadows that he captures with

working at a variety of jobs, including newspaper

a painter’s skill are the best guarantee . . . that


Bates’s fiction will live on.”

Bates’s first novel, The Two Sisters (1926),

depicts the empty lives of two sisters who are each

Other Works by H. E. Bates

courted by the same man promising to rescue

Elephant’s Nest in a Rhubarb Tree and Other Stories.

them from their tyrannical father. Bates attained

New York: New Directions, 1988.

44 Bawden, Nina Mabey

A Month by the Lake and Other Stories. New York:

a painter who is a brilliant copyist, duplicating

New Directions, 1987.

great works of art, and his tangled relationships

with four women: his first wife, his young second

A Work about H. E. Bates

wife, his aunt, and his mother. It was nominated

Vannatta, Dennis. H. E. Bates. Boston: Twayne,

for the Booker Prize in 1987. A reviewer from


the Guardian newspaper wrote about the later

novel that it “[p]lays with time and notions of

forgery and fidelity in life and art, as well as trac-

Bawden, Nina Mabey (1925– ) novelist

ing with extraordinary exactness and creative

A novelist equally at home writing for adults or

tact, the pain and survival of a loved one.”

children, Nina Bawden was born in London. At

In 1995 Bawden published In My Own Time:

Oxford she studied philosophy, politics, and eco-

Almost an Autobiography. This book contains

nomics, receiving her degree in 1946. Bawden’s

recollections of her childhood, the years during

first novel, Who Cal s the Tune (1953), was a mur-

World War II, her education, and family life; and

der mystery. She wrote several novels for adults

insights into how a writer turns life experiences

before she attempted one for children, The Secret

into works of art. Bawden is a Fellow of the Royal

Passage (1963). The story was inspired by her own

Society of Literature.

children after they had found a hidden passage in

their basement.

Other Works by Nina Bawden

Two subsequent Bawden novels for chil-

Devil by the Sea. London: Virago, 1997.

dren, Carrie’s War (1973) and The Peppermint

Family Money. London: Virago, 1997.

Pig (1975), have become classics. Carrie’s War is

The Finding. New York: Puffin, l993.

about children being evacuated from London to

Granny the Pag. New York: Clarion Books, 1996.

a Welsh mining town during World War II—an

Off the Road. New York: Puffin, 2000.

experience the author lived through herself.

Ruffian on the Stair. London: Virago, 2002.

The Peppermint Pig is especially notable for its

intense realism, as when Bawden writes: “Old

Granny Greengrass had her finger chopped off at

Baxter, Stephen (1957– ) science fiction

the butcher’s when she was buying half a leg of


lamb.” The book received the Guardian Award for

Stephen Baxter was born on November 13, 1957,

Children’s Fiction in 1975.

in Liverpool. He attended Cambridge University,

In interviews about her work, Bawden has said

where he studied mathematics; Southampton

that in her writing for children she has tried to

University, where he received a doctorate in engi-

compensate for the fact that others underestimate

neering; and Henley Management College, where

children’s feelings and perceptions. A reviewer for

he earned a degree in business administration.

the Times Literary Supplement agreed: “No writer

He taught math and physics for some time, then

is better than Bawden at conveying the alienation

worked in information technology before becom-

of childhood.”

ing a full-time writer in 1995.

Bawden’s many novels for adults, known for

His literary career began in 1987, when he

their examination of the drama in middle-class

published his first science fiction short story.

life, have also won awards. Afternoon of a Good

Other stories followed, as well as his first novel,

Woman (1976), which tells the story of Penelope,

Raft (1991). In the following years, he became

who has tried hard to be a good wife, mistress,

increasingly prolific, writing more than 40 books

mother, and magistrate, won the Yorkshire Post

and winning numerous science fiction awards,

Novel of the Year. Circles of Deceit is the story of

including the Philip K. Dick Award (in 1996 for

Beckett, Samuel 45

The Time Ships as well as in 1999 for Vacuum

Evolution. London: Gollancz, 2002.

Diagrams), the British Science Fiction Associa-

The Light of Other Days. (With Arthur C. Clarke).

tion Award (in 1996 for The Time Ships as well

New York: TOR, 2000.

as in 2001 for a nonfiction book Omegatropic),

Ring. New York: Harper Prism Books, 1996.

and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (in

Timelike Infinity. London: Harper Collins, 1992.

1996, again for The Time Ships). He is currently

vice president of both the British Science Fiction

A Work about Stephen Baxter

Association and the H. G. Wells Society, as well as

“Stephen Baxter.” Contemporary Authors Online.

a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2007.

Baxter is a writer of hard science fiction, often

Available online. URL: http://galenet.galegroup.

focusing on highly technical or theoretical ideas.

com. Accessed December 7, 2007.

His strong background in math and engineer-

ing allows him to craft epic narratives grounded

in current scientific understanding. His work is

Beauchamp, Kathleen Mansfield

organized into a number of series.

See Mansfield, Katherine.

The Manifold Trilogy, which consists of

three novels ( Time, 1999; Space, 2000; Origin,

2001) and a book of short stories related to the

Beckett, Samuel (1906–1989) playwright,

novels ( Phase Space, 2002), offers resolutions to


the Fermi Paradox, which is the contradiction

Samuel Beckett was born in a suburb of Dublin,

between the fact that most scientists believe that

Ireland, to William Beckett, a surveyor, and Mary

there must be life on other planets and the lack of

Jones Beckett. He completed his secondary stud-

evidence for such life.

ies at Portora Royal School in Northern Ireland

The Mammoth Trilogy ( Silverhair, 1999; Long-

and went from there to Trinity College, Dublin,

tusk, 1999; and Icebones, 2001), written primar-

where he earned a B.A. in French and Italian in

ily for children, concerns ideas of evolution and

1927 and subsequently earned an M.A. in 1931.

focuses on groups of mammoths living in the dis-

Shortly after receiving his B.A., Beckett

tant past, present-day Siberia, and on Mars.

accepted a teaching position at the École Normale

Baxter’s most popular and ambitious series, the

Supérieure in Paris, where he met his lifelong

Xeelee Sequence, includes more than 10 books and

friend and mentor, James Joyce. While in Paris

chronicles the ultimately futile million-year war

and under Joyce’s tutelage, Beckett learned the

humanity wages against the Xeelee, an alien spe-

craft of writing. He wrote an essay entitled “Dante

cies whose technology gives them godlike power.

. . . Bruno . . . Vico . . . Joyce” (1929), on Joyce’s yet

Baxter’s most highly regarded book, The Time

unreleased Finnegans Wake.

Ships, a best seller and multiple award winner, is a

Beckett eventually abandoned teaching and

sequel to H. G. Wells’s classic The Time Machine.

spent the 1930s in Dublin, London, and Paris,

In addition to his science fiction, Baxter

struggling as a writer. In 1933 he published a

has also written a number of nonfiction books,

collection of 10 short stories, More Pricks than

including Revolutions in the Earth: James Hutton

Kicks, which describe the youth, middle age,

and the True Age of the World (2003). He is also a

and death of Belacqua, a character Beckett took

science fiction critic and anthology editor.

from Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy. Four

years later, and after 43 rejections, Beckett finally

Other Works by Stephen Baxter

published Murphy (1937), his first novel, which

Conqueror. London: Gollancz, 2007.

focuses on its title character, a Dubliner living in

Deep Future. London: Gollancz, 2001.

London, who is so dissatisfied with the chaos of

46 Beckett, Samuel

the world around him that he spends the majority

got there. Perhaps in an ambulance, certainly a

of his time strapped in a rocking chair exploring

vehicle of some kind. I was helped. I’d never have

his own mind.

got there alone.”

Beckett was awarded the Croix de Guerre and

Molloy and Malone, the narrator of the trilogy’s

the Médaille de la Résistance for his service to

second novel, share a sense of separation from the

the French Resistance in World War II. After the

world, and both feel compelled to tell their tales

war, still living in France and writing in French,

or become artists. As they try to do this, however,

he began work that would establish him as one of

they fall deeper and deeper into their stories until

the 20th century’s most important novelists and

they can no longer distinguish between them-

playwrights. The first of his important postwar

selves and the narratives they are creating. This

writings was a trilogy of novels: Malloy (1951),

difficulty progresses through the trilogy until, in

Malone Dies (1951), and The Unnamable (1953).

The Unnamable, as the title suggests, the narrator

All of these books feature disconnected, alienated

is entirely subsumed by his narrative and is never

narrators living almost entirely within the con-

even named.

fines of their own minds or imaginations.

While all of the novels use a stream-of-con-

One year later Beckett produced Waiting for

sciousness style, with the narrators reporting

Godot (1954), a play about two men standing

their thoughts to the reader as they occur, the

beside a country road waiting for a man called

technique dominates The Unnamable more than

M. Godot. The critic H. A. Smith has praised this

any other. Near the novel’s end, the narrator

as “the most comprehensively and profoundly

simply pours words upon the reader, stopping, it

evocative play of the last thirty years.” Beckett

seems, only for a breath:

went on to write a number of equally provocative

plays, including Endgame (1957), about the hor-

Now I can speak of my life, I’m too tired for

ribly repetitive and almost deathlike lives of two

niceties, but I don’t know if I, ever lived, I have

disabled characters; and Krapp’s Last Tape (1960),

really no opinion on the subject. However that

which tells the story of an elderly man reviewing

may be I think I’ll soon go silent for good, in

his life by listening to snippets of a tape-recorded

spite of its being prohibited. The, yes, phut,

journal that he began in his youth. All of Beckett’s

just like that, just like one of the living, then

plays challenged the dramatic form by reducing

I’ll be dead, I think I’ll soon be dead, I hope I

casts to one or two characters and sets to the most

find it a change.

basic elements, often a single tree or a table and

chair on an otherwise empty stage.

Waiting for Godot is one of the landmarks of

20th-century literature. The two-act play is con-

Critical Analysis

cise—it contains only two important characters,

Beckett’s trilogy of Mal oy, Malone Dies, and The

Vladimir and Estragon, and takes place in a single

Unnamable established his primary themes—dis-

location—and minimalist, with a set composed

connection from the world and the artist trapped

of only a lone tree and a country road. The play

within his own mind—as well as a stream-of-

centers on conversations between Estragon and

consciousness style that runs throughout the rest

Vladimir, who spend two days waiting beside a

of his work. The main characters of each novel

country road for a person named M. Godot, who

become so disconnected from the world that they

never appears. While waiting, the two discuss

even lose track of where they are or how they

issues ranging from their hats and boots to their

got there. At the beginning of the first novel, for

religions and the possibility of hanging them-

instance, Molloy remarks, “I am in my mother’s

selves, which flares up only to quickly die, like so

room,” but goes on to say, “I don’t know how I

many of their topics.

Bedford, Sybille 47

Waiting for Godot, with God embedded in

of disgust for his younger self, Krapp slips into the

Godot’s very name, has been described as a

clown mode, sticking a banana in his mouth at

Christian allegory. The critic John Gassner has

one point, nearly forgetting that it is there, and

remarked that it “presents the view that man,

later slipping on its peel. Krapp illustrates that

the hapless wanderer in the universe, brings his

near the end of Beckett’s dramatic career, the poet

quite wonderful humanity—his human capacity

was capable of laughing at humanity despite his

for hope, patience, resilience, and, yes, for love of

awareness of all of its problems.

one’s kind, too, as well as his animal nature—to

In 1969 Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel

the weird journey of existence.” Other critics have

Prize for, as the committee wrote, “ ‘a body of

praised the play for its manipulation, or breaking,

work that, in new forms of fiction and the theatre,

of several dramatic conventions. Beckett’s starkly

has transmuted the destitution of modern man

empty set marks a departure from standard 20th-

into his exaltation.’ ” Scholar Deirdre Bair has

century drama, which typically uses elaborate

remarked that “[t]his comment is probably the

sets and even multiple settings, but Beckett’s

most accurate description of Beckett’s writing, as

more compelling change is his method of devel-

in its succinctness it takes into account his prose,

oping, or not developing, his characters through

his plays, his achievement, his life.”

action. While conventional drama uses action to

create clearly defined, individual figures, Beck-

Other Works by Samuel Beckett

ett’s protagonists engage in mindless, fidgeting

Col ected Poems 1930–1978. London: John Calder,

action (removing their pants or tugging on pieces


of rope to test their strength) that does not dis-

The Complete Dramatic Works. London: Faber and

tinguish one from the other but, in the words of

Faber, 1986.

the scholar David Pattie, “leads inexorably to the

Watt. 1953. Reprint, London: Calder, 1994.

blurring of distinctions between characters.”

Krapp’s Last Tape is Beckett’s most concise play,

Works about Samuel Beckett

consisting of a single character named Krapp, a

Andonian, Cathleen Culotta. Samuel Beckett: A Ref-

69-year-old man who sits alone in a dark room

erence Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.

reviewing his entire life by listening to audio

Bloom, Harold, ed. Samuel Beckett: Modern Critical

recordings of himself talking at various points

Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1985.

throughout his life. As he listens to fragments

Cronin, Anthony. Samuel Beckett: The Last Modern-

of tapes from his youth, middle age, and old age,

ist. London: HarperCollins, 1996.

Krapp becomes increasingly drunk and ridicules

Pattie, David. The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel

the images of himself as a younger man, at one

Beckett. New York: Routledge, 2000.

point saying, “Just been listening to that stupid

bastard I took myself for thirty years ago, hard to

believe I was ever as bad as that.” While Krapp is

Bedford, Sybille (1911–2006) novelist,

a thoroughly pathetic character, the scholar Jean-

biographer, essayist

Jacques Mayoux has observed that he is a poignant

Sybille Bedford was born in Charlottenburg, Ger-

clown figure complete with “white face and red

many, to Maximilian and Elizabeth Bernard von

nose, the ‘rusty black narrow trousers, too short,’

Schoenebeck. Her mother came from a wealthy

the ‘surprising pair of dirty white boots, size 10

background, and it was her money that supported

at least, very narrow and pointed,’ with the gro-

the family during Bedford’s childhood. Bedford

tesque near-sighted peerings to match, and the

had an international education and studied at

ways of a habitual drunkard.” Indeed, interspersed

several different private schools located in Italy,

between snippets of tape and his expostulations

France, and England. In 1935 she married Walter

48 Behan, Brendan

Bedford. Her work as a novelist, biographer, and

print titles have been reissued. Bedford’s gift for

essayist has earned her critical acclaim among

creating believable and true-to-life characters has

contemporary literary scholars and the reading

been a hallmark of all her writing. Peter Levi, a


reviewer for the Spectator, has praised Bedford

Often drawing from her own experiences as a

for her ability to write about ordinary, everyday

young girl growing up in Europe, Bedford’s writ-

events that in her work “read like a crisp unfor-

ings consider a diverse range of themes including

gettable honeymoon.” He wrote of her talent:

war, aristocratic society, criminal justice, and

“Bedford’s genius is for writing about people.

international travel. Her first novel, A Legacy

[Her] excellence is immortal, her career one of

(1956) tells the story of two families, one Jewish

great distinction in literature.”

and one Catholic, and their attempt to survive in

Germany under the Nazis during World War II.

Other Works by Sybille Bedford

Her mentor, Aldous Huxley, called the book

A Compass Error. 1968. Reprint, Washington, D.C.:

“[a]n interesting, odd, unclassifiable book—at

Counterpoint Press, 2001.

once historical novel and a study of character, a

A Favorite of the Gods. 1963. Reprint, Washington,

collection of brilliantly objective portraits.” Eve-

D.C.: Counterpoint Press, 2001.

lyn Waugh described the work as “[a] book of

entirely delicious quality. . . . Everything is new,

cool, witty, elegant.”

Behan, Brendan (1923–1964) playwright,

Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education was short-


listed for the Booker Prize and continues the

Brendan Behan was born in a tenement house

theme of Bedford’s first novel. It describes the dis-

in Dublin. Later, when he was famous, he often

placement felt by Europeans after the war and the

portrayed himself as a child of the slums, but this

horrors experienced by people living under the

was not the case. Both his parents were educated

Nazi and Fascist regimes. In the novel’s opening

and well-read. His father, Stephan Behan, was a

passage the narrator, Billi, depicts the controlled

housepainter who once studied for the priesthood,

world of Nazi Germany, recalling memories of

while his mother Kathleen came from a middle-

her restrained early childhood: “Please be good,

class family. Behan’s father was also a republican

please keep quiet,” implores Billi’s worried

who was arrested and imprisoned at the end of

mother, “he doesn’t like to have a baby in the hall.

the Irish civil war, and Behan’s maternal uncle,

Please just go to sleep.”

Peadar Kearney, wrote the Irish national anthem.

Bedford has also written several biographies.

His upbringing was thus steeped in Irish history,

Her two-volume biography of Aldous Huxley,

politics, and literature.

published in 1974, offers personal insights into the

At 13, Behan joined the Irish Republican Army

famous writer’s life by recounting her experiences

(IRA). In 1940, while carrying a bag of explosives,

with Huxley and his wife, Maria. This intimate

he was arrested in Liverpool and sentenced to three

approach to biography earned her admiration

years in juvenile detention in Suffolk. After two

among critics such as William Abrahams, who

years he was released and deported back to Ireland,

praised her in the Atlantic Monthly for her deci-

where, in 1942, he was arrested again for firing at a

sion to focus on Huxley’s private life, although it

police detective during an IRA parade. This time

required the “mastering of a staggering amount

he was sentenced to 14 years. During his time in

of material.” Abrahams called the biography

prison, he started to write short stories. Early in

“unquestionably a work of art.”

his incarceration, the novelist Sean O’Faolain,

Bedford’s writings have experienced renewed

who was then editor of The Bell, published an

attention in recent years and previously out-of-

account of Behan’s youthful imprisonment.

Bell, Clive 49

A general amnesty provided Behan with his

your lost youth and your crippled leg. He died in

release from prison in 1946. In 1950 he returned

a strange land, and at home he had no one. I’ll

to Dublin, where his talent drew attention in liter-

never forget you, Leslie, till the end of time.”

ary circles.

Borstal Boy (1958), Behan’s memoir of his prison

The Quare Fel ow (1954) was his first success-

days, was a best seller in England and America; it

ful play. It was well received when it was first per-

demonstrated Behan’s exceptional lyrical power

formed in 1954, and the 1956 London production

and his largeness of spirit. His later work did not

made him famous. The Quare Fel ow is a grim,

equal these early successes. In fact, his later mem-

yet comic, drama about the effects an imminent

oirs, like Brendan Behan’s New York (1964) and

prison hanging has on warders and inmates alike.

Brendan Behan’s Island (1962), were transcribed

The condemned prisoner, the “quare fellow” of

from recordings. Though he often said when he

the title, is never seen on stage, but his presence is

was a struggling writer that he was ripe for suc-

everywhere in the prison. More than just a protest

cess, a wild lifestyle led to alcoholism, diabetes,

against capital punishment, the play, a blending

and an early death in Dublin. An IRA guard of

of comedy, tragedy, and naturalistic language, is

honor accompanied his coffin at his funeral.

a portrait of the human spirit enduring under

Critic Declan Kiberd has observed, “To the

intolerable pressures. Behan’s sympathy with and

very end, Behan’s fear was that his own formal

portrayal of people outcast and marginalized by

wildness might be domesticated and misinter-

society would be present in all his best work.

preted,” and that Behan’s best work is “an orga-

In the play, a prison official reminds one of

nized project of resistance by those in the modern

the warders that the condemned prisoners get a

world who stand defeated but not destroyed.”

Christian death with benefit of cleric and sacra-

ments. The warder, Regan, responds, “But that’s

Works about Brendan Behan

not our reason for hanging them, sir. We can’t

Arthurs, Peter. With Brendan Behan. New York: St.

advertise ‘Commit a murder and die a happy

Martin’s Press, 1981.

death,’ sir. We’ll have them all at it. They take reli-

Brannigan, John. Brendan Behan: Cultural Nation-

gion very seriously in this country.”

alism and the Revisionist Writer. Dublin: Four

When The Quare Fel ow opened in London, the

Courts Press, 2002.

drama critic Kenneth Tynan wrote in the Observer

Kiberd, Declan. Inventing Ireland: The Literature of

that “in Brendan Behan’s tremendous new play,

the Modern Nation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard

language is out on a spree, ribald, dauntless, and

University Press, 1996.

spoiling for a fight. . . . With superb dramatic tact

Wallace, Martin. Famous Irish Writers. Belfast:

the tragedy is concealed beneath layer upon layer of

Appletree Press, 1999.

rough comedy. . . . I left the theatre overwhelmed.”

Behan’s next play, The Hostage (1958), was

first written in Gaelic and then translated by the

Bell, Clive (Arthur Clive Howard Bell)

author. It is the story of an English soldier kid-

(1881–1964) art critic, nonfiction writer

napped and held in a Dublin brothel by the IRA.

Clive Bell was born in East Shefford, Bedford-

Also an enormous success, The Hostage continued

shire, England, to William Heyward Bell, a min-

Behan’s exploration of the wounded lives of the

ing engineer. He attended Cambridge, where he

down-and-out. He also extended his sympathy

was influenced by the moral philosophy of G. E.

to include victims from both sides of the conflict.

Moore, which emphasized the enjoyment of

One of the women the hostage has befriended

conversation and beautiful objects. In 1907 Bell

says over his slain body, “It wasn’t the Belfast Jail

married Vanessa Stephen, daughter of Leslie Ste-

or the Six Counties that was troubling you, but

phen and sister of Virginia Woolf.

50 Belloc, Hilaire

In his early career Bell wrote literary reviews

take place in the visual arts in the first half of the

for the Athenaeum periodical. In 1910 and 1912

twentieth century.”

he attended postimpressionist art exhibitions

organized by his mentor and friend, Roger Fry.

Works about Clive Bell

These events led Bell to focus his writing on art

Bywater, William G., Jr. Clive Bel ’s Eye. Detroit:

criticism. His first work on this subject, Art (1914),

Wayne State University Press, 1975.

marked the beginning of his career as one of the

Laing, Donald A. Clive Bel : An Annotated Bibliog-

world’s foremost art theorists.

raphy of the Published Writings. New York: Gar-

In Art Bell sets forth his “significant form” con-

land, 1983.

cept in assessing aesthetic quality. Bell writes that

in each work of art, “lines and colours combined

in a particular way, certain forms and relations of

Belloc, Hilaire (Joseph Hilaire Pierre

forms, stir our aesthetic emotions. These relations

Belloc) (1870–1953) nonfiction writer,

and combinations of lines and colours, these aes-

essayist, poet, novelist

thetically moving forms, I call ‘Significant Form’

Hilaire Belloc is remembered for his vigorous

. . . the one quality common to all works of visual

defenses of Catholicism and his poetry for chil-

art.” For Bell the focus of an artwork was not the

dren. He was born in Saint-Cloud, France, the

subject but instead the form and design, and the

son of French barrister Louis Belloc and British

feelings and ideas they expressed.

political radical Elizabeth Rayner Parkes. After

Art stirred great controversy at the time it was

his father’s death, he and his family, including

published. Many critics questioned Bell’s logic

his sister Marie Belloc Lowndes, moved to

and could not understand why “significant form”

England, where he was educated at Oxford and

is the essential great quality of great art. Critic

was elected to Parliament as a Liberal.

Randall Davies asked, “But why should Mr. Bell

Belloc analyzed religion in such volumes as

suppose that the forms that move him are the

Europe and the Faith (1920), How the Reforma-

only ones proper to move others?” Despite its

tion Happened (1928), A Conversation with an

detractors, Art helped boost popular interest in

Angel, and Other Essays (1928), Essays of a Catho-

postimpressionist painters.

lic (1930), and The Great Heresies (1938). In The

Bell’s other important works of art criticism

Great Heresies he went so far as to define entire

include Since Cézanne (1922), a discussion of

religions, including Islam, as heretical departures

the French artist Paul Cézanne’s influence, and

from the true Catholic faith. Belloc’s religiosity

An Account of French Painting (1932), a history

earned him the friendship of G. K. Chesterton

of French art over nine centuries. He also wrote

and rebuttal essays by the socialist George Ber-

On British Freedom (1923), a discussion of Brit-

nard Shaw, who parodied Chesterton and Belloc

ish politics and society; and Civilization (1928),

as a hybrid beast, the Chesterbelloc.

an analysis of the qualities that make up a civi-

Belloc also wrote biographies of such pivotal

lized state of society. In one of his later books, Old

historical figures as Oliver Cromwell ( Cromwel ,

Friends: Personal Recol ections (1956), Bell recalls

1927); the French cardinal Richelieu ( Richelieu,

the friendships he had while part of the loose-knit

1929); the English cardinal Wolsey ( Wolsey, 1930);

group of writers and intellectuals known as the

as well as major figures of the French Revolution.

Bloomsbury Group. The scholar Donald Laing

His output furthermore included novels; volumes

has written that Bell’s works “provide a valuable

of essays with such titles as On Everything (1910);

record, not only of some forty years of English

and books about European places and history,

art history, but also of a sensitive and intelligent

such as The Path to Rome (1902). He is perhaps

man’s engagement with the major development to

best known for books of children’s verse, includ-

Bennett, Alan 51

ing The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts (1896) and

tries, though she insisted that her “heart is all

More Beasts for Worse Children (1897), in which

French.” She spent her adolescence and adult life

he observes, “The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy

mostly in England. She had only two years of for-

hairy goat/ With an indolent expression and an

mal education, although her brother was sent to

undulating throat/ Like an unsuccessful liter-

school with the help of relatives. She began writing

ary man.” Most critics and readers paid more

at age 16, and her first job was as a journalist for

attention to his poetry than to his philosophical

W. T. Stead at the Pall Mall Gazette, writing a

books, although those works continued to sell

guide for the Paris Exhibition of 1889. At this time

among religious and conservative readers. Arthur

she traveled frequently to France and socialized

Bryant, in his foreword to Bel oc: A Biographical

with many French writers, including Paul Ver-

Anthology, called Belloc “one of the most versatile

laine, Emile Zola, and Jules Verne. Belloc Lowndes

English writers of our age.”

secured a small sum of money from Stead that

enabled her brother to travel in France and submit

Other Works by Hilaire Belloc

his impressions for publication. In 1896 she mar-

At the Sign of the Lion. 1916. Reprint, Freeport, N.Y.:

ried Times journalist Frederic Sawry Lowndes,

Books for Libraries, 1964.

with whom she had two sons and a daughter.

The Cruise of the “Nona.” 1925. Reprint, New York:

Belloc Lowndes published more than 40 nov-

Hippocrene Books, 1983.

els, most of which are crime stories or mysteries,

The Four Men: A Farrago. 1917. Reprint, Oxford, En-

many derived from real-life criminal cases. Her

gland: Oxford University Press, 1984.

daughter Susan wrote that Belloc Lowndes tended

to depict “the reactions of ordinary persons to sud-

Works about Hilaire Belloc

den violence in their own circle.” Belloc Lowndes

Speaight, Robert. The Life of Hilaire Bel oc. Freeport,

also wrote royal biographies and historical nov-

N.Y.: Books for Libraries, 1957.

els, and two of her works appeared under pseud-

Van Thal, Herbert, ed. Bel oc: A Biographical An-

onyms (Philip Curtin and Elizabeth Rayner). Her

thology. New York: Knopf, 1970.

most famous novel, The Lodger (1913), is about a

woman who realizes that her lodger is Jack the

Ripper. This novel inspired several film versions,

Belloc Lowndes, Marie Adelaide

including one by Alfred Hitchcock in 1926. Belloc

(Philip Curtin, Elizabeth Rayner) (1868–

Lowndes also wrote several volumes of memoirs.

1947) novelist, short story writer, memoirist

Despite her success, though, she did not entirely

Born in Saint-Cloud, France, to Louis Belloc, a

relish being known as a writer of crime fiction.

French barrister, and Elizabeth Rayner Parkes,

a prominent English feminist and writer, Marie

Other Works by Marie Belloc Lowndes

Belloc Lowndes and her younger brother, writer

The Diaries and Letters of Marie Bel oc Lowndes.

Hilaire Belloc, were both raised as Catholics

London: Chatto & Windus, 1971.

and spent much of their childhood in France. Her

A Passing World. London: Macmillan, 1948.

French grandmother translated Harriet Beecher

Where Love and Friendship Dwelt. New York: Dodd,

Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) into French.

Mead, 1943.

Following Louis Belloc’s death in 1872, Belloc

Lowndes’s mother brought the two children to live

in London, where they lived on a modest income.

Bennett, Alan (1934– ) playwright,

Belloc Lowndes later claimed that spending


time in both France and England gave her an inti-

Alan Bennett was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, to

mate knowledge of the literatures of both coun-

Walter Bennett, a butcher, and Lilian Mary Peel

52 Bennett, Arnold

Bennett. He attended Oxford, graduating with

aces and humorous commentary in his autobiog-

honors in 1957. From 1960 to 1962, he was a junior

raphy Writing Home (1994), a critical and popular

lecturer in modern history at Magdalen College,

success. Critic David Nokes describes Bennett as

Oxford, where he cowrote and performed in the

“probably our greatest living dramatist. . . . His

comedy revue Beyond the Fringe (1962).

genius lies in an unerring ear for the idioms of

Bennett’s first stage play, Forty Years On

lower-middle-class life, the verbal doilies of self-

(1968), is about a comic revue being performed

respect and self-repression.”

at a boys’ boarding school. The play was influ-

enced by Beyond the Fringe in that it consisted of

Other Work by Alan Bennett

a series of satiric skits poking fun at well-known

Say Something Happened: A Play. New York: Samuel

cultural and political figures in establishment

French, 1982.

England. Like much of Bennett’s work, the play

mocks traditional English manners and mores. In

A Work about Alan Bennett

one scene the headmaster describes the English

Wolfe, Peter. Understanding Alan Bennett. Colum-

literati: “The silly way of talking they had. How

bia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

simply too extraordinary they used to say about

the most humdrum occurrence. If you blew your

nose it was exquisitely civilized.” The play also

Bennett, Arnold (1867–1931) novelist

exhibits the blend of regret and nostalgia found

Arnold Bennett was born in the industrial town

in many of Bennett’s works about England. This

of Hanley, Staffordshire, northern England, to

is seen in the headmaster’s reflection about the

Enoch Bennett, a lawyer, and Sarah Ann Bennett.

decline of traditional English values: “Once we

He attended public and private schools, including

had a romantic and old-fashioned conception of

a short tenure at an art school, but never went to

honour, of patriotism, chivalry and duty. But it

college because his father wanted him to join him

was a duty that didn’t have much to do with jus-

in his law firm. Bennett studied law only half-

tice, with social justice anyway.”

heartedly and failed the bar twice before moving

Bennett’s other dramatic works include Get-

to London, where he began his career as a writer.

ting On (1971), about a disillusioned member

Bennett secured a position as the editor for

of Parliament; and Kafka’s Dick (1986), about

the weekly magazine Woman, and after writing

an insurance salesman who is investigating the

several pieces for various magazines and liter-

famous Czech author Franz Kafka’s visit to con-

ary journals, he published his first novel, A Man

temporary England. In one of his most acclaimed

from the North (1884), an apprentice piece, over-

plays, The Madness of George III (1992), Bennett

shadowed by his later novels. He went on to write

portrays the political intrigue in England during

more than 35 novels, the best-regarded of which

the American Revolution. Critic Robert Brustein

are a series of novels set in the region of Bennett’s

has written that the play’s uniqueness “lies in

childhood: The Old Wives’ Tale (1908), Clayhanger

the way it manages to evoke an entire historical

(1910), and Riceyman Steps (1923).

epoch. . . . Before long we are deep in the intrigues

The best of Bennett’s early novels are all uni-

of Georgian politics.” More recently, The History

fied by their setting, the northern industrial region

Boys (2004) won the Olivier Award and the Tony

known as the “five towns,” which the author knew

Award for best play.

well in his youth. From his memory of that area,

Bennett has also written many dramatic and

Bennett wrote Anna of the Five Towns (1902),

documentary works for television as well as

Leonora (1903), and Sacred and Profane Love (1905),

numerous reviews for the London Review of Books.

which all unsentimentally examine women whose

He combined many of these pieces with play pref-

lives are narrowed by their materialistic pursuits.

Bennett, Ronan 53

The Old Wives’ Tale, also set in the five towns,

During his lifetime Bennett achieved great

established Bennett’s enduring reputation more

commercial success, but many of the nation’s lit-

than any other novel and is still considered a clas-

erary elite, including Virginia Woolf and T. S.

sic of British literature. Its attention to setting

Eliot, turned against him late in his career and

cements the five towns as a literary region compa-

effectively pushed his work into near obscurity,

rable to Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, and its treatment

mainly because he was old and a careerist. Recent

of characters and themes displays Bennett’s full

scholarship has reassessed Bennett and led to

literary capability. The novel follows two sisters,

a resurrection of his reputation. As the writer

Constance and Sophia, from childhood through

and Bennett biographer Frank Swinnerton

old age, while developing the themes of change

observes, Bennett’s “characters are . . . illustra-

and death. The sisters marry, with Constance

tions of the endless foibles and endurances of

remaining in England and Sophia moving with

mankind. . . . Bennett’s novels will live, indeed . . .

her husband to France. They experience life’s full

future generations will see and feel in them the

range of emotions—happiness, frustration, and

actual life of one part of England in a day that is

grief—while gradually, and half-unknowingly,

already past.”

growing old. Bennett brings the reader face-to-face

with aging and death when Sophia looks upon her

Other Work by Arnold Bennett

once young and beautiful but now dying husband,

The Grand Babylon Hotel. 1902. Reprint, New York:

who had left her years before: “In her mind she had

Penguin, 1992.

not pictured Gerald as a very old man. She knew

that he was old; she had said to herself that he must

Works about Arnold Bennett

be very old, well over seventy. But she had not pic-

Hepburn, James, ed. Arnold Bennett. New York:

tured him.” The image she encounters makes her

Routledge, 1997.

shudder and remark, “ ‘Yet a little while . . . and I

Squillace, Robert. Modernism, Modernity, and Ar-

shall be lying on a bed like that! And what shall I

nold Bennett. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell Univer-

have lived for? What is the meaning of it?’ ”

sity Press, 1997.

Bennett also received critical acclaim for Clay-

hanger, the first novel of a trilogy about the family

of Edwin Clayhanger. Clayhanger, modeled after

Bennett, Ronan (1956– ) novelist,

Bennett himself, struggles to free himself from

nonfiction writer, screenwriter

a domineering father who wants him to join the

Ronan Bennett was born on January 14, 1956,

family printing business. In addition to such par-

in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he attended

ent/child conflicts, Clayhanger and its sequels,

St. Mary’s Christian Brothers School. While still

Hilda Lessways (1911) and These Twain (1916),

in school, he was arrested and tried in a juryless

also explore problems between the sexes.

court on charges of Republican activities and spent

The last novel for which Bennett earned

1974 to 1975 in Long Kesh prison before his con-

acclaim is Riceyman Steps (1923), which won the

viction was overturned. After moving to London,

James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It is a dark novel

he was arrested again and spent more than a year

with Freudian sexual undertones about an elderly

in prison before being acquitted in 1979. He then

and miserly antique bookseller, Earlforward, who

studied history at King’s College, London, receiv-

marries a widow named Violet. Largely because

ing a B.A. in 1983 and a Ph.D. in 1988. In 1986 to

of Earlforward’s obsession with money and Vio-

1987, he was a research fellow at the Institute of

let’s detestation of that pursuit, the relationship

Historical Research in London. In his fiction, he

becomes a mixture of love and hate that ends,

is steadfastly committed to examining questions

eventually, in death.

of political violence and its impact on individuals.

54 Bentley, Edmund Clerihew

Bennett’s first novel, The Second Prison (1991),

Stolen Years: Before and After Guildford. With Paul

was shortlisted for the Irish Times Irish Lit-

Hill. London: Doubleday, 1990.

erature Prize for First Book. A thriller about a

Zugzwang. London: Bloomsbury, 2007.

group of Irish Republican activists, it drew on

his personal experience as well as his nationalist

Works about Ronan Bennett

politics. Its protagonist learns the hard way that

Bowman, David. Interview with author. Salon.

being released from prison does not amount to

com Books. Available online. URL: http://www.

freedom, since he cannot escape the culture of

political conflict that led him to imprisonment.

Accessed January 28, 2008.

His second novel, Overthrown by Strangers (1992),

Rubin, Martin. “ ‘Zugzwang’ by Ronan Bennett.”

also features an Irish ex-prisoner caught in a web

Los Angeles Times. Available online. URL: http://

of political violence.

w w

Bennett’s third novel, The Catastrophist (1997),


finally brought him to the public’s attention by

headlines. Accessed January 28, 2008.

winning the Irish Post Literature Award as well

as the Belfast Arts Award for Literature; it was

also short-listed for the Whitbread Novel Award.

Bentley, Edmund Clerihew (1875–1956)

Its protagonist, James Gillespie, is an Irish nov-

novelist, poet, journalist

elist pursuing a romantic interest in the Belgian

E. C. Bentley is best known both as a crime-fic-

Congo in 1959, during its turbulent struggle for

tion writer and as the originator of the poetic

independence. Gillespie faces the difficult choice

form known as the clerihew, which he invented as

of becoming involved in the conflict, thus aban-

a diversion from his schoolwork when he was 16

doning his treasured objectivity as a writer, or

years old and attending St. Paul’s School in Lon-

withdrawing, leaving behind his love, an Italian

don. A clerihew is a humorous pseudobiographi-

journalist passionately committed to the indepen-

cal poem of four lines in which the first two lines

dence movement.

and the last two lines rhyme, for example:

Havoc, in Its Third Year (2004), Bennett’s

fourth novel, won the Hughes & Hughes / Irish

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Independent Irish Novel of the Year award.

Whose very name connotes art

Set in 17th-century England during a time of

Thought flutes untunable and otophagic

Puritan persecution of Catholics, this historical

[painful to the ear]

novel focuses on the religious aspect of politi-

Till he made one that was magic.

cal division. It was widely praised by critics as

a satisfying thriller and admirable intellectual

Bentley’s first collection of clerihews was published


in 1905 under the title Biography for Beginners.

In addition to his fiction, Bennett has written

Bentley worked as a journalist for the Lon-

screenplays for film and television, including Face,

don Daily News, the Daily Telegraph, and Punch

Love Lies Bleeding, Rebel Heart, Lucky Break, and

from 1901 through 1934. During this time, how-

Fields of Gold. He also contributes to the Guard-

ever, his main success was as a mystery writer.

ian and the Observer and has written several non-

Though he wrote only four mystery novels, he

fiction works about political prisoners.

was enormously popular in his time and had a

great influence on later mystery writers. His first

Other Works by Ronan Bennett

novel, Trent’s Last Case (1913), is among the first

Double Jeopardy: The Retrial of the Guildford Four.

books of the Golden Age of mystery fiction, which

London: Penguin, 1993.

includes such writers as Dorothy L. Sayers and

Berger, John Peter 55

Agatha Christie. Philip Trent, in contrast with

ter study of an aging, bitter painter who struggles

the stoic and self-important heroes of previous

with financial worry and a loveless marriage. The

detective stories, is a self-mocking gentleman, an

book was praised for its realistic depiction of the

artist and part-time detective who must find the

life of an artist.

killer of an American capitalist.

Berger earned the 1972 Booker Prize for G.:

One of Bentley’s innovations in the mystery

A Novel. Set during the failed revolution of Mila-

genre is a realistic approach to the material. For

nese workers in 1898, the novel tells the story of a

example, where previous literary detectives were

young man’s sexual encounters in Europe. Berger

master sleuths who always got their man, Trent

was heralded for the compassion with which

finds that his best efforts have led to a completely

he explored how men and women relate to one

erroneous conclusion.

another and their search for intimacy. The novel

Bentley was also influential in his avoidance of

also earned him the James Tait Black Memorial

melodrama, his use of multiple solutions to the


crime, and a humorous approach to characters. As

Berger’s most influential work is often con-

Sayers wrote, “. . . running into little sidestreams

sidered to be Ways of Seeing (1972), a study of art

of wit and humor, or spreading into crystal pools

based on the BBC television series of the same

of beauty and tender feeling, Trent’s Last Case

name. In this book he analyzes not only art but

welled up in the desiccated desert of mystery fic-

also the very meaning of perception—what we

tion like a spring of living water.”

see and how we see it. In his examination of how

Bentley’s contribution to literature is still

image relates to text, Berger writes, “It is seeing

strongly felt today. In Sayers’s words, his work

which establishes our place in the surrounding

was that “of an educated man, . . . who was not

world; we explain that world with words, but

ashamed to lay his gifts of culture at the feet of

words can never undo the fact that we are sur-

that Cinderella of literature, the mystery novel.”

rounded by it.”

Particularly relevant even three decades after

Other Works by E. C. Bentley

the book’s publication is Berger’s discussion of

Trent Intervenes. 1938. Reprint, New York: House of

images in the mass media. He suggests that the

Stratus, 2001.

images of advertising are “of the moment”—that

Trent’s Own Case. 1936. Reprint, New York: House

is, they speed past the viewer and transmit their

of Stratus, 2001.

message of capitalism on a subconscious level. Art,

Berger argues, was once an expression of what an

artist saw or possessed. Advertising is about what

Berger, John Peter (1926– ) novelist, art

one does not have but thinks one needs.

critic, screenwriter

In the 1970s Berger moved to a small village in

John Berger, a committed Marxist, is a novelist,

the French Alps and became fascinated with the

painter, and art historian famous for his study of

culture of the peasants who lived there. He soon

the peasant communities of the French Alps and

explored this culture in his writing. Pig Earth

for his influential studies of perception and art.

(1979) was the first of Berger’s Into Their Labours

Born in London, he attended the Central School

trilogy, which also includes Once in Europa (1983)

of Art and the Chelsea School of Art in London

and Lilac and Flag: An Old Wives’ Tale of a City

and taught drawing from 1948 to 1955. In 1952 he

(1990). These books are told through the stories

began writing influential art criticism with marx-

passed on to him by French peasants and exam-

ist overtones for London’s New Statesman.

ine the changes in their way of life as they move

Berger’s first novel, A Painter of Our Time

from their isolated rural community to the city.

(1958), written in journal entry form, is a charac-

Critic Harrington B. Laufman writes that in Pig

56 Betjeman, John

Earth “[t]he ‘fiction’, that is the re-told tales, are

tecture, landscapes, religion, and death, that

the book’s strength. It is unclear where the village

would become standard in his work. This early

story-tellers’ tales end and Berger’s elaboration (if

work also displayed his characteristically nostal-

any) begins. These seamless stories transported

gic tone.

me to an earthy, physical world of self-reliance

With his first two collections virtually unrec-

amidst the close community of the village.”

ognized by both critics and the public, Betjeman’s

In collaboration with the Swiss filmmaker

reputation improved only slightly with the

Alain Tanner, Berger wrote the screenplay for

appearance of Old Lights for New Chancels (1940),

Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976),

New Bats in Old Belfries (1945), and A Few Late

which film critic Leonard Maltin called a

Chrysanthemums (1954). In 1958, however, with

“[s]ensitive, literate, engaging comedy about eight

the publication of Col ected Poems, he finally cap-

individuals affected by the political events of the

tured the interest of the popular reading public

late ’60s.”

and the literary establishment. In this collection

Berger continues to write and paint. His paint-

of previously published poetry, he demonstrated

ings have been shown all over the world.

himself to be a poet remarkably untouched by

the aesthetics of modernist poets such as Eliot.

Other Works by John Berger

Among his influences was Alfred, Lord Ten-

About Looking. New York: Vintage, 1992.

nyson. Instead of the experimentation and free

The Success and Failure of Picasso. New York: Vin-

verse of many of his contemporaries, Betjeman

tage, 1993.

adopted traditional verse forms and presented

To the Wedding: A Novel. New York: Vintage, 1996.

what critic Louise Bogan described as “an entire

set of neglected Victorian techniques . . . imme-

A Work about John Berger

diately acceptable even to our modern sensibili-

Dyer, Geoff. The Ways of Tel ing: The Work of John

ties, grown used to the harsh, the violent, and the

Berger. New York: Pluto Press, 1988.


Col ected Poems contains two of Betjeman’s

most enduring poems: “Slough” and “The Metro-

Betjeman, John (1906–1984) poet

politan Railway.” “Slough” is an example of what

John Betjeman was born in London to Ernest

some critics call Betjeman’s “light,” or less serious

Edward Betjeman, a businessman, and Mabel

verse. In great detail, it describes a dull suburban

Bessie Betjeman. His parents fought constantly,

town, that “isn’t fit for humans now, / There isn’t

and Betjeman was raised almost solely by a nanny.

grass to graze a cow.” Regardless of the poem’s

He went to a number of private elementary and

“lightness,” or perhaps because of it, it has been

preparatory schools, even studying under T. S.

widely anthologized.

Eliot at one point, but left Oxford after failing an

“The Metropolitan Railway” confronts prog-

important exam. He worked as a teacher at several

ress and the price paid for it. The poem begins

high schools and for the Ministry of Information

with a husband and wife on a bright and shiny

during World War II. However, his main goal was

metro platform but changes direction with the

to be a poet.

lines “visualize, far down the shining lines / Your

Betjeman spent the better part of the 1930s

parents’ homestead set in murmuring pines.”

supporting himself by writing for the magazine

Betjeman shows how this earlier generation might

Architectural Review and producing several travel

have experienced the railroad on their first ride

guides. In addition he wrote his first two volumes

and describes how it entirely changed the face of

of poetry, Mount Zion (1931) and Continual Dew

the British countryside. In the last stanza the poem

(1937), which featured subjects, including archi-

returns to the present, in which the husband has

Blackwood, Algernon 57

died of cancer and the wife has a bad heart. Both

ents were members of a strict Calvinist sect. Their

have been abandoned by the promise of progress

beliefs exerted great influence on Blackwood’s

that seemed so wonderful in their youth.

fiction, which he began writing after a series of

Another of Betjeman’s best poems, “In Willes-

failed jobs and illnesses.

den Churchyard,” appears in High and Low

In 1900 Blackwood joined a mystical secret

(1966). In this poem the speaker walks among the

society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,

headstones of a cemetery with his “love” and pon-

which was dedicated to the study of the occult

ders the lives of the people lying beneath his feet.

and magic; its best-known member was Wil-

He ultimately arrives at questions about his own

liam Butler Yeats. Blackwood drew from his

death. The poem ends with the lines, “Not ten

experiences with the Golden Dawn and other

yards off in Willesden parish church / Glows with

occult studies to describe strange mystical states

the present immanence of God,” but it suggests

of mind in eerie detail in such short story collec-

uncertainty rather than reassurance about death,

tions as The Empty House and Other Ghost Sto-

even with the presence of God near at hand.

ries (1906) and novels such as The Human Chord

Betjeman was a popular poet, with his Col-


lected Poems selling more than 100,000 copies in

Blackwood had a special gift for finding the

a time when poetry was commonly regarded as

horror in situations in which the line between

remote and sometimes unreadable. He was poet

faulty human perception and true danger is

laureate from 1972 until his death and received

unclear. In “The Transfer” (1912), for instance,

numerous honorary degrees. While some critics

the narrator describes a child’s beliefs about an

question Betjeman’s poetic skill, others see him as

unnaturally dead patch in a garden, noting “it was

a worthy heir of 19th-century poetry. As Louise

Jamie who buried ogres there and heard it [the

Bogan remarks, “it is a pleasure to let down our

ground] crying in an earthy voice, swore that it

defenses and be swept along . . . and to meet no

shook its surface sometimes while he watched it,

imperfect . . . rhymes . . .; to recognize sincerity so

and secretly gave it food.” One of his best-known

delicately shaded . . . that it becomes immediately

characters is the physician and occult investigator

acceptable even to our modern sensibilities.”

John Silence, featured in John Silence: Physician

Extraordinary (1908).

Other Works by John Betjeman

Although Blackwood viewed his fiction as

English Cities and Small Towns. 1943. Reprint, Lon-

describing mystical and altered states of con-

don: Prion, 1997.

sciousness, many of his readers regard them as

John Betjeman: Col ected Poems. London: John Mur-

straight horror stories. His greatest impact was

ray, 1990.

on later horror writers, including the American

writer H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote of Blackwood,

Works about John Betjeman

“he is the one absolute and unquestioned mas-

Brown, Dennis. John Betjeman. Tavistock, England:

ter of weird atmosphere.” Fellow British writer

Northcote, 1999.

Hilaire Belloc, observed that Blackwood was

Wilson, A. N. Betjeman. New York: Arrow, 2007.

a genius who created “successful literary achieve-

ment in the most difficult of literary provinces.”

Blackwood, Algernon (1869–1951)

Other Works by Algernon Blackwood

novelist, short story writer

The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood. New

Algernon Blackwood was born in Shooter’s Hill,

York: Dover Publications, 1973.

Kent, England, the son of the duchess of Manches-

Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural. New York:

ter and Sir Stevenson Arthur Blackwood. His par-

Book-of-the-Month Club, 1992.

58 Blair, Eric Arthur

A Work about Algernon Blackwood

rejection of the aesthetic, social, and sexual norms

Ashley, Mike. Algernon Blackwood: An Extraordi-

of traditional Victorian society. They also enjoyed

nary Life. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2001.

playing pranks such as the Dreadnought Hoax,

in which group members disguised themselves as

dignitaries from Zanzibar in order to receive an

Blair, Eric Arthur

official tour of a British battleship.

See Orwell, George.

Among the important books written by

Bloomsbury Group members are Strachey’s Emi-

nent Victorians (1918), Bell’s Art (1914), Keynes’s

Blake, Nicholas

Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919), Vir-

See Day-Lewis, Cecil.

ginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room (1922), and Leonard

Woolf’s Hunting the Highbrow (1927). In addition,

the Woolfs founded the Hogarth Press, which

Bloomsbury Group

published T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922).

The Bloomsbury Group was the name given to

Although the group was influential, some writ-

a loosely knit group of writers and intellectuals

ers such as Wyndham Lewis and F. R. Leavis

who began meeting in 1905. It started when writer

criticized it as effeminate, elitist, pretentious, and

Thoby Stephen brought a group of his friends at

shallow. Writer Frank Swinnerton described

Cambridge to meet his sisters, Virginia (who was

the Bloomsbury Group as “intellectually Royal-

to become Virginia Woolf) and Vanessa (who

ist—royalist you understand, to itself.” Critic

was to marry art critic Clive Bell), at their Gor-

Dmitri Mirski described the group’s liberalism

don Square home in Bloomsbury, a section of Lon-

as “thin-skinned humanism for enlightened and

don. Eventually a variety of artists, economists,

sensitive members of the capitalist class.”

publishers, and writers would become members

Bloomsbury’s influence waned after Virginia

of the group. Among its original members were

Woolf’s suicide in 1941, but critical interest in the

Bell, novelist and publisher Leonard Woolf,

group revived after 1960. Poet Stephen Spender

historian Lytton Strachey, and civil servant

wrote of the group: “Bloomsbury has been derided

Saxon Sydney-Turner. The Bloomsbury group

by some people and has attracted the snobbish

was later joined by literary critic Desmond Mac-

admiration of others: but I think it was the most

Carthy, novelist E. M. Forster, art critic Roger

constructive and creative influence on English

Fry, novelist David Garnett, and economist John

taste between the wars.”

Maynard Keynes. In addition to Bloomsbury, the

group met at the country homes of its members.

Works about the Bloomsbury Group

The members of the Bloomsbury Group denied

Marler, Regina. Bloomsbury Pie: The Making of the

having a formal reason to gather. Leonard Woolf

Bloomsbury Boom. New York: Henry Holt, 1997.

stated that “we had no common theory, system, or

Rosenbaum, S. P. Victorian Bloomsbury: The Early

principles which we wanted to convert the world

Literary History of the Bloomsbury Group, vol. 1.

to.” However, the group’s members were united

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

in their belief in the importance of the arts, the

pursuit of knowledge, and the creation and enjoy-

ment of aesthetic experiences. They were con-

Blunden, Edmund Charles (1896–1974)

sidered the genteel wing of the innovative and

poet, nonfiction writer

progressive writers and artists who made up the

Charles Blunden was born in London to Charles

avant-garde. Bloomsbury members delighted in

and Georgina Tyler Blunden and grew up in the

offending the English upper classes through their

English countryside of Yalding, Kent. Although

Blyton, Enid 59

Blunden’s family had financial problems, he

the school of Hardy, the last writer of a natively

was able to attend the prestigious private school

English poetry.”

Christ’s Hospital and Queen’s College, Oxford, on

academic scholarships. During World War I, he

Other Works by Edmund Blunden

fought with the Sussex regiment, saw heavy front-

English Vil ages. London: Prion, 1997.

line action in France, and survived a gas attack.

Selected Poems. Edited by Robyn Marsack. 1947. Re-

A poet and scholar of the same World War I

print, Manchester: Carcanet, 1982.

generation as the poets Siegfried Sassoon and

Wilfred Owen, Blunden was deeply influenced

A Work about Edmund Blunden

by the British romantics throughout his life, and

Webb, Barry. Edmund Blunden: A Biography. New

despite witnessing the horrors of war, he wrote

Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990.

poetry that is often set in rustic, rural places and

narrated by shepherds. The pastoral qualities so

typical of Blunden’s work are nowhere more evi-

Blyton, Enid (Mary Pollock) (1897–1968)

dent than in his major collection The Poems of

children’s author

Edmund Blunden (1930). “The Barn,” for instance,

Born in London, Enid Blyton was the daughter

establishes a highly rustic tone in its first lines:

of Thomas Carey and Theresa Mary Harrison

“Rain-sunken roof, grown green and thin / For

Blyton. Her family thought she would grow up to

sparrows’ nests and starlings’ nests.” Blunden’s

become a pianist, but even before she could write,

love for the pastoral is so strong that even when

Enid was telling her brothers stories. When she

he broaches the topic of war, his poetry retains

was 14, the writer Arthur Mee published one of

some its elements. After describing a disheveled

her poems and encouraged her to write more. “All

and disheartened group of soldiers in “An Infan-

through my teens, I wrote and wrote and wrote

tryman,” Blunden ends the poem optimistically:

. . . poems, stories, articles, even a novel,” Blyton

“You smiled, you sang, your courage rang, and

recalled in Story of My Life (1952).

to this day I hear it, / Sunny as a May-day dance,

When Blyton decided she wanted to write

along that spectral avenue.”

for children, she became a kindergarten teacher,

Blunden is also remembered for his 1928 mem-

and her students acted as her critics. The poems

oir of World War I, Undertones of War, in which

she wrote for them appeared in Child Whis-

he describes his entire war experience in vignettes

pers (1922). The following year, she worked on a

that focus largely on daily routines rather than

children’s book with editor Hugh Pollock, whom

combat. Although written in prose, the scholar

she married in 1924; they had two children. After

Paul Fussell, underscoring Blunden’s place in the

their divorce, Blyton married Kenneth Waters, a

pastoral tradition, describes Blunden’s memoir as

surgeon, in 1943.

“an extended pastoral elegy.”

Blyton wrote an average of 15 books a year, pub-

Throughout his career, Blunden taught litera-

lished several children’s magazines, and organized

ture at universities around the world, most notably

children’s charities. Eventually she published more

at Oxford in 1966. He also published biographies

than 700 books, several under the name Mary Pol-

of Leigh Hunt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Thomas

lock, and 10,000 short stories. Little Noddy Goes

Hardy. He will be best remembered, however, as a

to Toyland (1949), about a little toy man with a

traditional and pastoral poet. In the estimation of

talent for getting into trouble, became the first

the scholar G. S. Fraser, “Blunden is a last impor-

of several popular series. Critic Lucy Clark wrote

tant survivor of that generation of first world war

that Blyton’s series retain their appeal because

poets who passed through and surmounted an

they tell easy-to-read stories about “kids in groups

ordeal of initiation . . . the last surviving poet of

going on adventures away from their parents

60 Boland, Eavan Aisling

and eating fabulous feasts.” The mystery stories

the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (1995), she

about the Famous Five and the Secret Seven have

recalls a moment when she saw “that everything

been translated into more than 60 languages and

which has defined my life up to that moment is

adapted into several television series.

something which has not happened. . . . Some-

In the 1950s Blyton’s work was criticized for its

times on my way to college, or making a detour

simple style, sexist stereotypes, and snobbishness.

to have a cup of coffee in the morning, I saw my

However, critic Sheila G. Ray notes that Blyton’s

reflection in a shopwindow. I never liked what

faults make her popular with children: “She was

I saw. A redheaded girl, always self-conscious,

above all a skilled storyteller and many adults

never graceful enough. . . . It was a measure of

today must owe their pleasure in reading to this

the confusion I felt, the increasing drain on my

quality in her work.” The scholar Peter Murphy

purpose and clearheadedness that I hardly ever

agrees: “Her books are about children in jeopardy,

thought I saw an Irish poet.”

children empowered, children winning through.

As with other contemporary women poets—

Enid Blyton is still the world’s greatest storyteller

Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, and Anne Sexton,

for children.”

for example—Boland turned these concerns into

poetry. In Her Own Image (1980), with charcoal

Other Works by Enid Blyton

drawings by Constance Short, includes poems on

Five Are Together Again. 1963. Reprint, New York:

anorexia, mastectomy, menstruation, and mastur-

Galaxy, 2000.

bation. Throughout her poetry Boland challenges

Good Old Secret Seven. 1960. Reprint, New York:

herself to make and her readers to follow that dif-

Galaxy, 2000.

ficult and sustaining move from object or icon

(Mother Ireland, Housewife) to subject or author.

A Work about Enid Blyton

Another response to Boland’s life and times

Rudd, David. Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Chil-

seems especially apt for the daughter of a diplo-

dren’s Literature. New York: Palgrave, 2000.

mat: She addresses the seductions and ravages

of power, whether deployed by imperial master,

nationalist ideologue, or religious authority.

Boland, Eavan Aisling (1944– ) poet,

Poetry comes in, Boland says, where myth touches


history and language reclaims place. For her place

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, to the

is the point of intersection among myth, history,

painter Frances Kelley and the diplomat Frederick

voice, and silence. She avoids writing about the

(Frank) H. Boland, whose various posts led the

famous Irish nationalist places, usually the sites

family to London and New York. Boland gradu-

of catastrophe, and finds her own versions of what

ated from Trinity College, Dublin, and currently

William Butler Yeats calls “befitting emblems

is a member of the English department at Stanford

of adversity”: the Dublin suburbs, the workhouse

University. She has published more than 10 vol-

in Clonmel where a Boland ancestor was master,

umes of poetry, a memoir, numerous pamphlets,

the only “administrative” job a Catholic could

and essays and poems in journals in Ireland and

get, the charity hospital in Dublin where Boland’s

America. Her awards include the Lannan Foun-

grandmother died alone in October 1909.

dation Award in Poetry and the America Ireland

Boland also composes beautiful, artistic

Fund Literary Award.

poems rendered as autobiography (“I Remem-

Boland found that as a woman poet she con-

ber”), as cautionary tale (“Degas’s Laundresses”),

fronted a male-dominated literary tradition filled

or as moments of pure visual and verbal beauty

with crippling preconceptions and expectations.

(“Renoir’s ‘The Grape Pickers’ ”). In “I Remember”

In her essay collection Object Lessons: The Life of

the early memory is captured with imagery drawn

Bond, Edward 61

specifically from the painter’s tools: “porcupin-

best play in 1962. The drama portrays the conflict

ing in a jar / The spines of my mother’s portrait

between King Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More,

brushes / Spiked from the dirty turpentine . . .”

described by Bolt as “a hero of selfhood,” who

Finally, Boland is a fine love poet, writing of

chose to die rather than betray his conscience.

sexual, romantic, familial, maternal, and domes-

London Times reviewer Chris Peachment called

tic love. Among most resonant sentences in Object

the play “a rare and abiding portrait of a virtuous

Lessons is “I want a poem I can grow old in. I want


a poem I can die in.” Some of her love poetry—

Bolt’s skill at creating well-structured plots

“The Black Lace Fan My Mother Gave Me” and

brought new success when he worked with direc-

“The Pomegranate,” for instance—comes very

tor David Lean on screenplays. His adaptations

close to meeting that demand.

of Dr. Zhivago (1965) and A Man for All Seasons

(1966) won Academy Awards. His other films

Other Works by Eavan Boland

include The Bounty (1984); and The Mission

Against Love Poetry. New York: W. W. Norton,

(1986), which the critic Sheila Benson described


as a “spectacle of conscience” about slavers’ treat-

The Lost Land. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.

ment of the Guarani Indians. The Mission won

An Origin Like Water: Col ected Poems 1957–87.

the Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.

New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.

Some critics consider Bolt’s plays old-fashioned

Outside History: Selected Poems 1980–1990. New

because of their traditional plot structure, but oth-

York: W. W. Norton, 2001.

ers praise his literate, well-crafted works for the

questions they raise and for their engaging heroes,

who often struggle with compelling ethical dilem-

Bolt, Robert Oxton (1924–1995)

mas. Bolt’s own explanation was that he used the

playwright, screenwriter

past “not to give a history lesson but to create an

Robert Bolt was born in Sale, near Manchester,

effective, entertaining, possibly disturbing—and

England, to Ralph Bolt, a shopkeeper, and his wife,

truthful—evening in the theatre.” According to

Leah, a teacher. From 1943 to 1946 Bolt served with

Chris Peachment, Bolt engages issues that many

the Royal West African Frontier Force in Ghana.

playwrights would not dare to tackle: “It is our luck

After completing his degree in history in 1949, he

that we have a playwright naïve and bold enough

taught English at Millfield School in Somerset.

to ask large questions about conscience and place

A request to write a school Christmas play

them on a national scale.”

became “an astonishing turning point,” because

it made Bolt realize that “this is what I was going

Other Works by Robert Bolt

to do.” Beginning with The Master in 1953, the

Bolt: Plays One. New York: Dimensions, 2001.

BBC aired 15 of his radio dramas. Bolt’s first stage

Bolt: Plays Two. New York: Dimensions, 2001.

play, The Last of the Wine (1956), was an adapta-

tion of a radio play about the threat of atomic war.

A Work about Robert Bolt

The success of Flowering Cherry (1957), about an

Turner, Adrian. Robert Bolt: Scenes from Two Lives.

unsuccessful insurance salesman who dreams

New York: Vintage, 1998.

of planting a cherry orchard, earned Bolt the

1957 Evening Standard Drama Award for Most

Promising British Playwright and allowed him to

Bond, Edward (Thomas Edward Bond)

become a full-time writer.

(1934– ) playwright, poet, essayist

Bolt’s most acclaimed work is A Man for All

Edward Bond was born in the Holloway suburb

Seasons (1960), which won the Tony Award for

of North London. His parents were farm laborers

62 Booker Prize

who had moved to London in the 1930s to find

and destroy natural human responses and turn

work. After quitting school, he worked in a fac-

people against each other.”

tory before the British Army drafted him and sent

him to Vienna, Austria.

Other Work by Edward Bond

Bond’s first play to be produced was The Pope’s

Tuesday. London: Methuen Drama, 1993.

Wedding (1962), which depicts a married East

Anglian farm worker who has an obsessive, and

A Work about Edward Bond

eventually violent, relationship with a recluse.

Hay, Malcolm, and Philip Roberts. Bond: A Study of

His second play, Saved (1965), is set in a South

His Plays. London: Eyre Methuen, 1980.

London working-class neighborhood. Bond

uses violence in the drama to express his views

that industrialized society has a corrupting and

Booker Prize (Booker McConnell Prize,

dehumanizing influence on urban youths. When

Man Booker Prize)

one of the characters is asked if he ever killed

Founded in 1969 by the company Booker McCon-

anyone, his response shows no consciousness

nell, the Booker Prize (renamed the Man Booker

of humanity: “Well I did once. I was in a room.

Prize) is awarded annually to an outstanding

Some bloke stood up in the door. Lost, I expect.

novel written in English by a resident of the British

I shot ’im. ‘E fell down. Like a coat fallin’ off a

Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Each

’anger.” Saved created a firestorm of controversy

year the Booker Prize Management Committee

because of its brutal depiction of thugs stoning a

appoints a panel of judges, including a literary

baby to death.

critic, an academic, a literary editor, a novelist,

Censorship and critical disapproval did not

and a major figure in the publishing industry. To

prevent Bond from writing many more contro-

help ensure the prize’s integrity, a new panel of

versial plays on social and public themes. An

judges is chosen each year.

anarchist, he uses plays such as The Worlds (1979),

The judges first read all of the submitted works

a defense of working-class terrorism set in con-

for that year—sometimes as many as 120—and

temporary Britain, to call for the overturning of

decide on a short list of six outstanding novels.

what he considers the institutionalized injustice

The authors of these books receive £1,000 and a

of the capitalist system. Although his dramas

leather-bound copy of their book. From the short

have varying geographical and historical settings,

list the judges then choose the winner, who earns

Bond consistently uses disturbing and violent

an additional £20,000.

scenes to try to shock his audience into seeing

More valuable than the prize money to the

a need for change. In a review of Lear, Bond’s

writers chosen for the short list and for the Booker

socialist rewriting of the Shakespearean tragedy,

Prize itself is the publicity and visibility that come

critic John Weightman wrote, “The message is

with the honor. An excellent example of the prize’s

that successive regimes behave mistakenly in

selling power is 1999’s winner Disgrace by J. M.

similar ways in order to preserve their authority,

Coetzee. The novel jumped from number 1,431

and that improvement can only come through a

to number 6 on the London Times best-seller list, a

change of heart.”

sales leap of 1,784 percent in five days. Of course,

Bond has won several honors for his powerful

with so much at stake, the prize is often the subject

works, including the George Devine Award and

of controversy. One recurring question is whether

the John Whiting Award. The scholars Malcolm

the judges can possibly do justice to the volume of

Hay and Philip Roberts have noted that Bond’s

submissions they have to read.

plays “explore and investigate the nature of human

The first winner of the Booker Prize was Some-

behaviour in societies which, like our own, inhibit

thing to Answer For by P. H. Newby. Other winning

Bowen, Elizabeth 63

writers include Bernice Rubens, David Sto-

Heart (1938), which focuses on a young girl’s ill-

rey, Keri Hulme, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael

fated love for an older, more experienced, and vil-

Ondaatje, Roddy Doyle, Yann Martel, and

lainous man; and The Heat of the Day (1948), which

Peter Carey.

is based on Bowen’s experiences in World War II.

2009 celebrates the 40th anniversary of what is

Although Bowen is primarily remembered as a

now called the Man Booker Prize. Established to

novelist, she also wrote numerous short stories, of

encourage the wider reading of the best in fiction,

which the most highly acclaimed, including “The

the Booker has become one of the highest honors

Mysterious Kôr” and “Demon Lover,” appear in

a writer can receive.

The Col ected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (1981).

Late in her career, at the age of 70, Bowen won

the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Eva Trout

Bowen, Elizabeth (1899–1973) novelist,

(1968), a novel about an eccentric young woman

short story writer

who is accidentally murdered. Despite the prize

Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin, Ireland, to

it received, critics do not regard this as one of

Henry Cole and Florence Colley Bowen, aristo-

Bowen’s best novels. Nevertheless, according to

crats who lived at Bowen’s Court, an estate that

the scholar Siobhán Kilfeather, Bowen will long

had been in the family since 1653. She was edu-

be remembered for “an extraordinary attention to

cated at Downe House in Kent, where she came

tradition. Language, conventions, and manners

under the tutelage of the novelist Rose Macau-

that have been taken for granted she places under

ley, who in turn introduced her to a broader liter-

stress. She addresses mainstream, middle-class

ary community, which included Edith Sitwell,

English life as someone sufficiently alienated by

Walter de la Mare, and Aldous Huxley.

race and gender to cast a cold eye upon it.”

In 1923 Bowen married Alan Cameron and

published her first book, Encounters, a collection

Critical Analysis

of stories generally about inexperienced young

Siobhán Kilfeather mentions that Bowen promul-

women in difficult situations. She soon followed

gates tradition because she continued the rich legacy

this with The Hotel (1927), a novel that explores

of the British novel of manners, or realistic stories

similar themes. In 1929 Bowen moved to London

about the social interactions and conventions of a

and became acquainted with the Bloomsbury

particular social class. For instance, The Last Sep-

Group, a literary circle whose most prominent

tember describes the social life of Irish aristocrats as

member, Virginia Woolf, became one of her

they waltz unsettlingly through parties and tennis

dearest friends. At this time Bowen began to

matches at Danielstown, an ancestral estate; they are

establish a literary reputation. The first of her

total y impervious to the Irish revolution ravaging

major novels, The Last September (1929), is an

the country simultaneously. The novel constantly

engaging study of a young woman attempting to

observes its characters, noting even how they sit or

develop her own personality in the confines of an

stand. In a typical passage, before the beginning of a

aristocratic family.

tennis match, Bowen writes:

Bowen further enhanced her reputation with

Friends and Relations (1931), a novel set in Britain

Everybody was sitting or standing about . . .

that focuses on the social interactions of several

there were two courts and eighteen players;

upper-class characters. However, she reached the

they were discussing who was to play first . . .

peak of her creative abilities with what are still

Lois was nowhere; Lawrence sat on the ground

regarded as her finest novels: The House in Paris

smoking and taking no part in the argument.

(1935), which describes a day-long friendship

Lady Naylor talked eagerly to a number of

between two young children; The Death of the

guests . . . Livvy Thompson was organizing.

64 Bowen, Elizabeth

Lois Farquar, noticeably absent in this passage but

both of her parents dead, she is forced to live with

the central character of Bowen’s novel, is entirely

Thomas and Anna Quayne, a childless couple

stifled by this environment and longs for change.

grown callous because of unfulfilled dreams.

That finally comes near the novel’s end, when the

Neither of the Quaynes are capable of providing

secondary story of the distant war merges with

Portia the love and support she needs, and she

the actions of the aristocrats at Danielstown as

spends the novel unsuccessfully searching for love

soldiers burn down the old estate. Much of the

from several men, most notably a philandering

novel’s appeal stems from Bowen’s masterful

young man named Eddie. The novel’s greatness,

interweaving of these dual plots and her use of

according to the scholar Janet Dunleavy, is “[i]ts

the fire to force the inhabitants of Danielstown to

narrative mode [which] incorporates an expertly

acknowledge the war and simultaneously end the

handled multiplicity of viewpoints which evoke a

boring phase of Farquar’s life.

multiplicity of responses to a single event or situa-

The House in Paris (1935), more than any of

tion.” One such event is Portia’s passion for Eddie.

Bowen’s other novels, reveals Virginia Woolf’s

While the two are having a conversation, Bowen

influence. As Woolf does in To the Lighthouse,

reveals that Portia is falling in love:

Bowen links several disconnected narratives into

a single, unified story, and then deftly manipulates

The force of Eddie’s behaviour whirled her

time. In The House in Paris, the narratives concern

free of a hundred puzzling humiliations, of

a disastrous love affair and its consequences. The

her hundred failures to take the ordinary cue.

novel, divided into three distinct parts, takes place

She could meet the demands he made with

in a single day, but in its second section it branches

the natural genius of the friend and lover.

into an extended flashback to explain events that

The impetus under which he seemed to move

took place 10 years earlier. In that earlier time,

made life fall, round him and her, into a new

Bowen deals primarily with Karen Michaelis, who

poetic order.

becomes engaged to a man she does not love, has an

affair with another woman’s fiancé, becomes preg-

In an ensuing passage, however, Bowen quickly

nant, and sends the resultant child to live in Paris

turns her attention to Eddie, revealing that to him,

after her paramour commits suicide. Although

Portia’s love is something of a tool that wil al ow

Karen’s fiancé knows of the affair, he marries her

him to diminish his roguish reputation: “For Eddie,

nonetheless, and she doesn’t see her child for nine

Portia’s love seemed to refute the accusations that

years. The child, Leopold, is the focus of the first

had been brought against him for years.”

and third portions of the novel as he arrives at a

In addition to her novels, Bowen is also well

house in Paris, where he is supposed to meet his

known for her short stories. Some of the most note-

mother for the first time. Leopold spends the day

worthy are found in The Demon Lover and Other

playing with Henrietta, a young girl making a

Stories (1945), a collection of stories about Lon-

travel stop at the same house, but his mother never

don during World War II. In Siobhán Kilfeather’s

comes, leaving Leopold weeping “like someone

words, the stories “are justly celebrated for their

alone against his will, someone shut up alone for

evocations of the fear in London, as the city comes

a punishment.” According to the scholar Edwin J.

to terms with danger.” “The Mysterious Kôr,” for

Kenney, Jr., Leopold’s “loneliness . . . is for Eliza-

instance, describes a paralyzed and frightening

beth Bowen a metaphor for all human loneliness

London during the German blitz as two characters,

caused by the combination of fate, of external cir-

Pepita and Arthur, wander the city’s streets pre-

cumstances, and innocence.”

tending that London is a lost city in Africa, dread-

The Death of the Heart (1939) is about an inex-

ing their return to a crowded and claustrophobic

perienced young woman named Portia. With

apartment. Bowen develops the horrible psycho-

Boyd, William 65

logical effect of the war by describing what would

of self-deception in modern life.” Bowen’s simple,

otherwise be a pleasant moonlit London night in

engaging plots help the average television viewer

military terms: “Full moonlight drenched the city

understand these issues.

and searched it; there was not a niche left to stand

Bowen’s television work, such as A Holiday

in. The effect was remorseless.” To avoid the feeling

Abroad (1960), The Essay Prize (1960), The Jack-

of dangerous exposure suggested in this passage,

pot Question (1961), and The Candidate (1961), all

Bowen writes that “People stayed indoors with a

explore disillusionment and self-deception. In A

fervour that could be felt: the buildings strained

Holiday Abroad, a week spent at a wealthy friend’s

with battened-down human life, but not a beam,

home makes a schoolboy resentful of his own

not a voice, not a note from a radio escaped.”

poverty. In The Essay Prize, an arrogant father

confronts his own jealousy and failure when his

Other Works by Elizabeth Bowen

son turns out to be a talented writer. In The Can-

Little Girls. 1963. Reprint, New York: Penguin, 1992.

didate, a successful businessman realizes that he

A Time in Rome. 1959. Reprint, New York: Penguin,

is willing to sacrifice his career and his marriage


to obtain a parliamentary seat.

To the North. 1932. Reprint, New York: Penguin,

Bowen’s most successful stage play, After the


Rain (1967), based on the novel of the same name

(1958), expands on themes of manipulation and

Works about Elizabeth Bowen

self-realization to explore “the making of super-

Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle. Elizabeth

stition and myth” in a society 200 years in the

Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel: Still

future. In this play a professor uses hypnotized

Lives. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

prisoners to reenact the story of a group who,

Hoogland, Renee C. Elizabeth Bowen: A Reputa-

having survived a flood that nearly destroys the

tion in Writing. New York: New York University

human race, founds a new society. Betsy Green-

Press, 1994.

leaf Yarrison calls After the Rain “an ambitious

Jordan, Heather Bryant. Elizabeth Bowen: A Study of

play: the survivors create a religion and a politi-

the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991.

cal system in the course of their voyage, and the

drama makes some incisive comments on the

political values of contemporary society.”

Bowen, John Griffith (1924– ) novelist,

Yarrison believes that Bowen “is noteworthy

playwright, screenwriter

for his sound craftsmanship, his gift for writing

John Bowen was born in Calcutta, India, the son

dialogue that is both realistic and theatrically

of Hugh Bowen, a factory manager, and Ethel

effective, and above all for his discerning portrai-

Bowen, a nurse. He earned his degree at Oxford.

ture of ordinary human beings struggling to be

After publishing three novels while working at

good in a corrupt, modern world.”

an advertising agency, he quit his job and started

writing full time.

Other Work by John Bowen

Bowen is known for screenplays written specif-

Plays One: After the Rain/The Disorderly Women/Lit-

ically for television. Writer Betsy Greenleaf Yar-

tle Boxes/Singles. London: Oberon Books, 1999.

rison describes the themes that Bowen revisits in

all of his work as “the manipulation of one human

being by another . . . the loneliness and isolation

Boyd, William (1952– ) novelist, journalist,

of people not at peace with their surroundings

screenwriter, film director

. . . the failure of individuals to form lasting emo-

William Andrew Murray Boyd was born on March

tional bonds with one another, and the prevalence

7, 1952, in Accra, Ghana. His Scottish parents were

66 Boyd, William

Alexander Murray Boyd, a doctor, and Evelyn

Boyd’s second novel, An Ice-Cream War (1982),

Boyd, a teacher. He grew up in Ghana and Nige-

presented a more serious side that would come

ria, and his early experiences there formed the

to characterize his best works. Set during World

basis of much of his later work. Of the Biafran

War I, it details the British campaign against the

War he has said, “It was crazy, idiotic, and not

German colony of Tanganyika (Tanzania) from

at all like I imagined war to be. All my received

the perspective of two of its participants, the

opinions from books and television turned out to

brothers Gabriel and Felix Cobb. The book was

be misguided.” He would express this same senti-

short-listed for the Booker Prize and won the

ment in one of his early novels, An Ice-Cream War

Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.

(1982). As a youth Boyd boarded at Gordonstoun

Boyd’s subsequent novels spanned a wide range

School in Scotland, an institution known for its

of topics and narrative approaches, although he

regimentation and high educational standards.

always remained a devoted and skilled realist, gar-

He explored this setting as well in several novels

nering comparisons to Tolstoy, Evelyn Waugh,

and short stories, later commenting that “very

and Kingsley Amis. Much like Graham Greene,

little has been written about those schools that

he has alternated between more serious works of

rings remotely true. Like Harry Potter, being a

literary fiction and light comic novels, although,

classic example. Utter nonsense, in terms of being

again like Greene, Boyd blurs this distinction

entirely unrealistic.”


Afterward, Boyd studied at the universities of

Stars and Bars (1984) portrays an English art

Nice and Glasgow, where he first began publishing

appraiser trying to make his way through New

short stories in literary journals. He considers the

York City and the American Deep South, handi-

1970s a time when it was relatively easy for young

capped by the difficulties of trying to overcome

writers to publish short stories, a genre he treats as

linguistic and cultural barriers as he searches for

a laboratory wherein he can experiment freely with

a collection of works by a sought-after painter.

narrative technique. Boyd married Susan Anne

The New Confessions (1987) presents a com-

Wilson in 1975, then, in 1980, completed a Ph.D.

plicated and playful narrative in which a Scottish

at Jesus College, Oxford, with a dissertation on

filmmaker reflects on his life from retirement;

Joseph Conrad. He was subsequently appointed

most of his recollections center on the produc-

lecturer in English literature at St. Hilda’s College.

tion of his masterpiece, a film adaptation of Jean-

However, he did not work in academia long, for

Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions. The complexity of

the beginning of his varied and illustrious literary

this novel won Boyd great praise; many consider

career roughly coincided with the completion of

it his first significant work.

his studies. After winning second place in a short

Brazzavil e Beach (1990), the tale of an English

story contest sponsored by the Oxford magazine

divorcée who researches the behavior of chim-

Isis, he went on to publish his first novel, A Good

panzees, won the James Tait Black Memorial

Man in Africa (1981), which won both the Whit-

Prize as well as the 1991 McVitie’s Prize for Scot-

bread First Novel Award and a Somerset Maugham

tish Writer of the Year. The Blue Afternoon (1993),

Award, establishing Boyd as a rising literary star.

which details an encounter between an architect

This comic novel was praised for its dexterity as

and a man who may be her father in 1930s Los

a farce. In the same year, Boyd also published a

Angeles, won the Sunday Express Book of the

collection of his early short stories, On the Yankee

Year award and the 1995 Los Angeles Times Book

Station and Other Stories. Starting in 1981 he also

Award for fiction.

became television critic for the New Statesman, a

Boyd achieved his greatest fame as a novelist

position he occupied until 1983, when he retired

with two works about fictional personas: Nat Tate:

from teaching.

An American Artist, 1928–1960 (1998), which pur-

Boyd, William 67

ported to be a biography of a neglected American

edly different from Boyd’s earlier, tightly plotted

painter, and Any Human Heart: The Intimate Jour-

farcical works. It also allowed him an opportunity

nals of Logan Mountstuart (2002), which explores

to discourse on cinema, a medium he was already

the 20th century through the journal of Logan

quite familiar with and fascinated by through his

Clinton, a fictional, globe-trotting man of letters.

work as a screenwriter.

In these mature works, Boyd demonstrates his

In 1998 Boyd created a scandal in the liter-

ability to traverse a great number of topics both

ary and art world with the publication of his

satirically and seriously, and always with a play-

Nat Tate: An American Artist, 1928–1960. This

ful, intellectual pleasure. His latest novel, Restless,

novel, complete with photographs of paintings,

won the 2006 Costa Novel Award.

recounted the life of a neglected artist living on

In addition to his fiction, Boyd has written

Long Island who, discovered at last and lauded by

for television, radio, and the big screen, adapt-

the art world, takes his own life after suffering a

ing several of his own works ( A Good Man in

nervous breakdown. The book was presented as

Africa, Stars and Bars, Armadil o) as well as those

a biography, duping numerous art critics who

of Evelyn Waugh ( Scoop 1986) and Mario Vargas

claimed to be familiar with Tate’s work. The hoax

Llosa ( Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter). He was

was revealed quickly (Boyd was not interested in

appointed a Commander of the British Empire in

playing a mean-spirited trick), and in a long arti-


cle written in his own defense, Boyd described the

book as “studded with covert and cryptic clues

Critical Analysis

and hints as to its real, fictive status. For me, the

While William Boyd is a highly versatile writer,

author, this was part of the pleasure—a form of

creating complex mathematical metaphors, dis-

Nabokovian relish in the sheer play and artifice—

cussing aviation technology, African history, and

and the fundamental aim of the book, it became

the details of American life with equal facility,

clear to me, was to destabilize, to challenge our

and using realistic detail to create palpably con-

notions of authenticity.” This description echoes

vincing characters, he is most highly regarded

the joy he takes in fiction at large: “Writing fiction

for the works in which he employs biographical

is absolute freedom. As an art form it is so bound-

genres as his chief narrative device. These works

lessly generous.”

contrast in tone with his comic novels, which fol-

Boyd’s third and most ambitious work in this

low in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh and King-

vein, Any Human Heart: The Intimate Journals

sley Amis.

of Logan Mountstuart (2002), was inspired by an

The earliest of the biographical genres, The

obscure French writer, Valéry Larbaud, who pub-

New Confessions (1987), related the story of the

lished numerous works as the imaginary writer

life of a Scottish filmmaker, John James Todd,

A. O. Barnabooth. Boyd’s work chronicles the life

who reflects on the experiences that led him to

of Logan Montstuart, an itinerant man of letters

become obsessed with Rousseau’s Confessions (he

who manages to bump elbows with many of the

acquired a copy of the book while in a German

greatest European writers of the 20th century

prisoner-of-war camp during the last years of

in hilariously awkward situations. Traveling the

World War I), and his subsequent quest to adapt

world over, Montstuart gives the reader an inti-

it into a series of silent films. Only one part of this

mate account of the salient events of the cen-

epic project is ever realized, however, and Todd’s

tury. In many ways, the book is about literature

career ends disastrously in the 1950s when he is

itself, particularly the pleasures it offers through

persecuted for his association with his leading

accident and surprise as well as its ultimate limi-

actress, a member of the Communist Party. The

tations, and how all of these help shape an indi-

sprawling inclusiveness of this novel was mark-

vidual’s life.

68 Bradbury, Malcolm

Other Works by William Boyd

versity of East Anglia, where he helped found a

Armadillo. New York: Knopf, 1998.

writing program. His most famous novel, The

Bamboo: Essays and Criticism. New York: Blooms-

History Man (1975), concerns a thoroughly detest-

bury, 2007.

able sociology professor, Howard Kirk, who stirs

The Blue Afternoon. New York: Knopf, 1995.

up campus unrest, has affairs with students, and

The Destiny of Natalie “X” and Other Stories. New

drives his wife, Barbara, to suicide. This book was

York: Knopf, 1997.

adapted into a successful television series. Brad-

Fascination: Stories. New York: Knopf, 2005.

bury himself was a writer of televised series such

Protobiography. London: Penguin, 2005.

as Anything More Would Be Greedy (1989) and

School Ties. New York: W. Morrow, 1985.

The Gravy Train (1990).

Bradbury was also a serious and highly

Works about William Boyd

regarded academic, known for his perceptive lit-

Agudo, Juan Francisco Elices. The Satiric Worlds of

erary criticism, which runs to dozens of volumes

Wil iam Boyd: A Case-Study. New York: Peter

and includes studies of Evelyn Waugh, E. M.

Lang, 2006.

Forster, and Saul Bellow. Much of his academic

“Boyd, William.” In Dictionary of Literary Biogra-

work involves the novel: The Modern American

phy. Vol. 231, British Novelists Since 1960, Fourth

Novel (1983); The Novel Today (1990), and From

Series, edited by Merritt Moseley, 31–40. Farm-

Puritanism to Postmodernism (1991).

ington Mills, Mich.: Gale Group, 2000.

Bradbury’s other novels include Stepping West-

ward (1965), which explores the meanings of the

word liberalism; Rates of Exchange (1983), about

Bradbury, Malcolm (1932–2000) novelist,

a British professor sent to Communist Eastern

literary critic, screenwriter

Europe; and Dr. Criminale (1992), about television

Malcolm Bradbury was born in Sheffield, England,

journalists. David Lodge said of him, “He was not

to Arthur Bradbury, a railway employee, and

only an important novelist, but a man of letters

Doris Marshall Bradbury. He earned his B.A. in

of a kind that is now rare.” Bradbury numbered

1953 from University College Leicester, his M.A.

himself among the “many writers for whom writ-

in 1955 from the University of London, and his

ing is not an economic activity but a vocation, the

Ph.D. in 1964 from the University of Manchester.

book not a commodity but a site of exploration.”

In 1959 he married Elizabeth Salt, with whom he

had two children.

Other Works by Malcolm Bradbury

Bradbury’s fame as a novelist began with Eat-

To the Hermitage. London: Picador, 2000.

ing People Is Wrong (1959). This book relates the

Unsent Letters: Irreverent Notes from a Literary Life.

adventures of a professor at a provincial university

New York: Viking, 1988.

that has taken over the buildings of a former insane

asylum; his office is a padded cell. Although Brad-

bury wrote that he disliked being labeled a writer

Bragg, Melvyn (1939– ) novelist,

of “campus novels,” he was interested in ideas, and


thus he wrote about “a place where people did dis-

Melvyn Bragg was born in Carlisle, North Cum-

cuss ideas, theoretical and aesthetic [and] contem-

bria, England, to Stanley Bragg, who held many

plated literary and cultural theory.”

jobs, and Ethel Parks Bragg, a factory worker. A

From 1961 to 1965 Bradbury served as a lec-

gifted student, he won a scholarship to attend

turer at the University of Birmingham, where

Oxford, where he studied history. After graduat-

he became friends with David Lodge, another

ing in 1961, he worked six years for the BBC as a

“campus novelist.” In 1965 he moved to the Uni-

writer and a producer.

Braine, John Gerard 69

Bragg published his first novel, For Want of a

tional ‘man of letters’ pigeonhole (people who

Nail, in 1965. It describes the adolescence and early

have been great commentators and taste-makers

adulthood of a Cumbrian man from a working-

as well as writers).”

class family. Since he frequently set his books in

Cumbria, Bragg gained a reputation as a regional

Other Works by Melvyn Bragg

novelist. D. H. Lawrence influenced Bragg’s use

A Son of War. London: Sceptre, 2001.

of sensuous images, while Thomas Hardy is his

Speak for England. New York: Knopf, 1976.

inspiration for writing tragic rural epics. Some

critics describe Bragg as a didactic romantic nov-

elist. He is concerned about the usefulness of his

Braine, John Gerard (1922–1986) novelist

books, as his narrator in The Nerve (1971), a novel

John Braine was born to Fred Braine, a sew-

about a teacher’s nervous breakdown, describes:

age plant superintendent, and Katherine Henry

“Where possible, fiction, like all imaginative writ-

Braine in Bradford, Yorkshire. Braine abandoned

ing, should be helpful; the very best is beautiful

his secondary education before graduation and

and truthful and instances of those aspects of life

worked in a bookstore, a pharmacy, a factory, and

are all the help we need.”

in the Royal Navy before becoming a librarian, a

Bragg’s novels often chronicle the economic

job he would hold for 10 years.

tensions faced by rural families. In The Hired

As a novelist Braine is associated with a group

Man (1970), his novel about a rural working-class

of British authors known as the Angry Young

family in the early 1900s, the character John is

Men. The writers of this group, including Kings-

forced to hire himself out as a laborer: “He felt his

ley Amis and John Wain, shared Braine’s rejec-

jaws clench at the reply that would have to come

tion of two trends: literary elitism, or the sense

through them when, soon, he would stand in the

that literature should cater to the upper social

Ring looking for work. But the jaws would have to

classes; and an overwhelming avant-gardism,

unclench—work had to be found.” Bragg’s works

or intense experimentation in form that often

also portray the tensions that societal expectations

alienates audiences. In rejecting these trends,

place on individuals and families, as in Autumn

Braine and the other writers of the group often

Manoeuvres (1978), a novel about politics in which

used brash, semiarticulate, and highly sexualized

a young Member of Parliament struggles with

characters to explore themes of class-conscious-

self-doubt: “He felt he had let the people down.

ness and success.

They deserved a minister. . . . someone who could

Braine’s most enduring novel, and the one most

begin to have a positive effect on their apparently

indicative of the Angry Young Men, is Room at the

intransigent problems. Not him.”

Top (1957). The novel follows a young, lower-mid-

In 1968 Bragg started writing screenplays,

dle-class protagonist, Joe Lampton, as he moves

including a collaboration on the film version of

into a wealthy London suburb, struggles to attain

the popular musical Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).

prominence, and impregnates the daughter of a

He gained fame in the 1970s as a presenter of

wealthy businessman, who gives Joe a business

television programs on literature and the arts. In

in exchange for never seeing his daughter again.

1988 he wrote the well-received biography Richard

Lampton narrates the entire novel retrospectively,

Burton: A Life (1988). In 1989 reviewer Michelle

reviewing his life since his arrival in the city. In

Field summarized Bragg: “His reputation in the

a passage indicative of Braine’s characteristically

States is now chiefly as the producer and presenter

plain style, Lampton reveals his fall from relative

of the South Bank Show . . . and as the author of

innocence and the guilt he feels for his methods

Richard Burton: A Life. She added, “In England,

of achieving social success. Looking at a picture

however, Bragg is immediately put in the tradi-

of himself, Joe remarks:

70 Brathwaite, Edward Lawson Kamau

[M]y face is not innocent exactly, but unused.

She handed him a form; he took out his pen,

I mean unused by sex, by money, by mak-

then put it back in his pocket again. . . . He

ing friends and influencing people, hardly

cleared his throat. “It isn’t long till closing

touched by any of the muck one’s forced to

time.” He suddenly found himself beginning

wade through to get what one wants.

to stammer, his self-confidence dwindling

before her official composure.

As this passages suggests, with the “muck

one’s forced to wade through,” Joe has achieved

Room at the Top established the ruthlessly

his success through less than honorable means,

ambitious protagonist typical of the Angry Young

often manipulating his love interests and choos-

Men and revealed the restrictive social environ-

ing his acquaintances solely for their social rank.

ment of postwar Britain. In assessing Braine’s

Braine subtly condemns his single-minded obses-

work, the scholar Judy Simons commented,

sion with success and the means to which he

“Braine’s work is notable for its directness and

stoops, but Lampton, enraged that the life of the

continues to claim a steady popular readership.

upper class is nearly closed to him and willing to

It remains of central academic interest to critics

do nearly anything to achieve that elusive goal,

whose main concern is with the social context of

emerges as a new and engaging type of charac-

literature, and no study of fiction of the 1950s can

ter. Largely because of its protagonist, Room at

afford to ignore his earlier books.”

the Top was an instant popular success, selling

well in both England and the United States. The

Other Works by John Braine

critic Kenneth Allsop remarked that “few books

These Golden Days. London: Methuen, 1985.

have revealed so explicitly the actual shape and

The Two of Us. London: Methuen, 1984.

shimmer of the fantasy life longings of a Joe

Lampton, and certainly no-one until John Braine

Works about John Braine

has described the exact kind of urges operating

Lee, J. W. John Braine. New York: Twayne, 1968.

within the post-war specimen.”

Salwak, Dale. John Braine and John Wain: A Refer-

Immediately following Room at the Top, Braine

ence Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980.

published Life at the Top (1962), an overly obvious

Wilson, Colin. The Craft of the Novel. London:

and too moralistic continuation of his first novel

Gollancz, 1975.

that features Lampton reaping the bitter fruits of

his dubiously achieved success. Braine rebounded,

however, with The Jealous God (1964). The novel

Brathwaite, Edward Lawson Kamau

describes a Catholic man, Vincent Dungarvan,

(1930– ) poet, essayist

who is torn between choosing a life in the priest-

Edward Brathwaite was born in Bridgetown, Bar-

hood and his very strong love of women. He even-

bados, to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk,

tually falls in love with a woman, Laura Heycliff,

and Beryl Gill Brathwaite. He attended Harrison

who forces him to choose between herself and

College in Barbados, where he cofounded a school

Catholicism because she is divorced, and mar-

newspaper and wrote a column on jazz. Brath-

rying her would require Dungarvan to leave the

waite won the coveted Barbados Island Scholar-

church. The novel displays more intricately devel-

ship to attend Cambridge, where he earned an

oped characters, a more appealing Yorkshire set-

honors degree in history in 1953. He returned to

ting, and a less abrupt style than Braine’s earlier

the Caribbean in 1962 to take up a series of teach-

novels. The author’s attention to characters and

ing posts at different universities.

his new style are both evident in one of Dungar-

Brathwaite published his first poems as a col-

van’s first encounters with Heycliff:

lege student in the Barbados literary journal Bim.

Bridie, James 71

His interest in complex rhythms of structure and

their connectedness to a creolized Caribbean

creating long lyrical poems reflects the influence


of T. S. Eliot. His first major works— Rights of

Passage (1967), Masks (1968), and Islands (1969)—

Other Work by Edward Brathwaite

composed the trilogy called The Arrivants. The

Words Need Love Too. Philipsburg, St. Martin:

poems in these works reflect Brathwaite’s concern

House of Nehesi, 2000.

with rediscovering the identity of West Indian

blacks through an examination of their African

A Work about Edward Brathwaite

roots. His verse frequently describes the enslave-

Bobb, June D. Beating a Restless Drum: The Poetics of

ment and transporting of Africans to the Carib-

Kamau Brathwaite and Derek Walcott. Trenton,

bean. In the poem “New World A-Comin” he

N.J.: Africa World Press Inc., 1998.

writes, “the flesh and the flies, the whips and the

fixed / fear of pain in this chained and welcoming

port.” In 1970 he won the Cholmondely Award.

Bridie, James (Osborne Henry Mavor)

Brathwaite’s second major trilogy, consisting of

(1888–1951) playwright

Mother Poem (1977), Sun Poem (1982), and X/Self

Considered the founder of the modern Scot-

(1987), continues his search for cultural identity.

tish theater, James Bridie was born Osborne

These works solidified his reputation with many

Henry Mavor in Glasgow. He studied medicine

critics as the most important West Indian poet.

and earned his degree from Glasgow University

When reviewing Mother Poem David Dorsey

in 1913. After serving as a military doctor dur-

noted Brathwaite’s “sober, passionate and lucid

ing World War I, he set up his own practice in

perception of the beauty and pain black Barba-

Glasgow in 1919.

dians are heir to.” In 2006 Brathwaite won the

During these years, Bridie’s interest in the

Griffin Poetry Prize, the world’s richest prize for

theater grew. In 1922 he wrote his first play, The

poetry, for Born to Slow Horses (2005).

Switchback, about a doctor tempted by fame and

Brathwaite promotes the Creole language spo-

fortune. The play was first performed in 1929.

ken by most West Indians as an important part

Bridie began to devote more energy to his writ-

of reclaiming the West Indies cultural heritage.

ing and abandoned medicine in 1938 to become

In the poem “Calypso” from Islands he writes,

a full-time playwright, although he served as an

“Have you no language of your own / no way of

army doctor during World War II.

doing things.”

Some of the most notable traits of Bridie’s work

Brathwaite is also an essayist. In his historical

are the power of his dialogue, his delight in human

work Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica (1970),

beings debating and arguing, and the exploration

he writes, “The people danced and spoke their

of human morality. Perhaps his most famous play

un-English English until our artists, seeking at

is The Anatomist (1930), based on the true story of

last to paint themselves, to speak themselves, to

a proud and boisterous 19th-century doctor who

sing themselves, returned . . . to the roots, to the

is supplied with bodies for dissection by a pair of

soil, to the sources.” He also suggests Caribbean

murderers. The doctor expresses his conflict about

blacks should similarly move beyond the religions

this situation: “Do you think because I strut and

and other traditions imposed upon them during

rant and put on a bold face that my soul isn’t sick

the colonial age. The scholar June D. Bobb writes,

within me at the horror of what I have done? . . .

“Brathwaite clearly intends his poetry to speak to

No, I carry the deaths of those poor wretches

members of the Caribbean’s black population, so

round my neck till I die.”

that they may recognize their position in society,

To critics who objected to what they saw as

become cognizant of their identity, and discover

unsatisfactory resolutions in his plays, Bridie

72 Brittain, Vera

responded, “Only God can write last acts, and

fight in World War I. She later recalled that “all

He seldom does. You should go out of the theater

through the War poetry was the only form of lit-

with your head writhing with speculations.”

erature that I could read for comfort, and the only

Bridie wrote more than 40 plays in all. He

kind that I ever attempted to write.” Some of these

was one of the founders of the Glasgow Citizens’

poems appear in her collection Poems of the War

Theatre, and helped to found the Royal Scottish

and After (1934).

Academy of Music and Drama. He was a member

Brittain attended Oxford, but she became

of the Arts Council and an adviser to the annual

increasingly determined to help the suffering

Edinburgh Festival.

soldiers. After a year at Oxford she temporarily

left to work as a volunteer nurse with the VAD

Works about James Bridie

(Voluntary Aid Detachment). This experience

Bannister, Winifred. James Bridie and His Theatre.

made her a passionate pacifist. She described her

Philadelphia: Century Bookbindery, 1980.

time there in her first autobiography, Testament

Low, John Thomas. Doctors, Devils, Saints, and Sin-

of Youth (1933). The most haunting sections of

ners: A Critical Study of the Major Plays of James

the book are those that describe her bewildered

Bridie. Edinburgh: Ramsay Head Press, 1980.

agony when her beloved brother and her fiancé

Tobin, Terence. James Bridie (Osborne Henry Ma-

were both killed in action. At first too stunned to

vor). Boston: Twayne, 1980.

understand it or weep, she lives for a while “like

a slaughtered animal that still twists after life has

been extinguished.”

Brittain, Vera (1893–1970) novelist, poet,

After the war, Brittain returned to Oxford. She

memoirist, journalist, nonfiction writer

had originally enrolled to study English, but now

Vera Brittain was born in Staffordshire and raised

she switched to history in search of facts to make

in the Cheshire town of Macclesfield. Her father

sense of the war. She wrote, “It’s my job, now, to

was the wealthy owner of a paper mill, and her

find out all about it, and try to prevent it, as far as

mother was the daughter of a musician. For the

one person can, from happening to other people.”

first nine years of her education, Brittain was

At Oxford Brittain became close friends with

taught at home by a governess. Later, she lamented

Winifred Holtby. After they finished at Oxford

that she had grown up in a household containing

the two lived together in London. Brittain worked

“precisely nine books.” Nonetheless, she avidly

briefly as a teacher and a journalist. Much of her

read what books she could and tried to write nov-

journalism is passionately feminist and pacifist,

els of her own.

and she became known as a stirring speaker for

When Brittain was 11 the family moved to

both causes.

Buxton, and she was sent to a private day school.

Brittain’s first novel was The Dark Tide (1923).

Later she attended St. Monica’s, a respected girl’s

Highly autobiographical, this book describes a

boarding school in Surrey where she excelled in

woman’s struggle to receive an education. Years

almost every subject. At age 16 she read Percy Bys-

later, Brittain wrote another autobiographi-

she Shelley’s elegy for John Keats, “Adonais,” and

cal novel, Born 1925 (1948), a family saga that

this melancholy poem sealed her determination

describes how two generations respond to World

to become a writer. As a student, she also became

War II.

committed to the suffragist movement, fighting

Brittain is best known for Testament of Youth

for women’s right to vote.

(1933). Winifred Holtby said of this book, “Others

At Christmas 1913 Brittain met Roland Leigh-

have borne witness to the wastage, the pity and

ton, her first love and soon her fiancé. She was

the heroism of modern war; none has yet so con-

heartbroken when he and her brother went to

vincingly conveyed its grief.” Testament of Youth

Brooke, Rupert Chawner 73

became a best seller again decades later, when

work of Walter de la Mare. The most notable

Virago republished it in 1978. Brittain followed

of Brooke’s Georgian poems is “The Old Vicarage,

the original publication with the autobiographies

Grantchester” (1912), which nostalgically describes

Testament of Friendship (1940), a description of

a small, rural British village.

her relationship with Holtby; and Testament of

Despite his contributions to Georgian poetry,

Experience (1957).

Brooke’s reputation rests on his status as a “trench

Brittain wrote extensively on women’s issues,

poet” like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sas-

including the histories Women’s Work in Modern

soon, who both earned the title by fighting in

England (1928) and Lady into Woman: A History

World War I. Of all the trench poets, Brooke was

of Women from Victoria to Elizabeth II (1953). Her

by far the most patriotic. His often-anthologized

feminist principles became linked to her pacifist

poem “The Soldier” became a rallying cry for Brit-

ethics. A member of the Peace Pledge Union, she

ain near the outset of the war, before poets and the

was in demand as a lecturer on the subject around

public alike became disillusioned with the conflict

the country. She continued to work for pacifism

(as the poems of Owen and Sassoon reflect). “The

even during World War II, when popular opin-

Soldier” opens with the remark that when a British

ion condemned that philosophy as treacherous.

soldier dies in battle and is buried abroad, “there’s

Her book Seeds of Chaos (1944) argues strongly

some corner of a foreign field / that is forever

against the bombing of Germany.

England.” The rest of the poem glorifies England

Brittain wrote more than 25 books in different

as a land capable of producing men that, in death,

genres. At the end of her life she was still attend-

would enrich the soils of any foreign land. Even

ing demonstrations and protests, and when she

in the poem “The Dead” (1914), with its ominous

died she was working on a final autobiography,

title, Brooke remains positive, suggesting that

Testament of Time. At her request, her ashes were

when British soldiers die “honour has come back

scattered over her brother’s war grave in Italy.

. . . and nobleness walks in our ways again.”

Through the efforts of such prominent figures as

Works about Vera Brittain

Winston Churchill, Henry James, and Walter

Berry, Paul, and Alan Bishop, eds. Testament of a

de la Mare, Brooke came to represent ideal British

Generation: The Journalism of Vera Brittain and

manhood. When he died of sunstroke, dysentery,

Winifred Holtby. London: Virago, 1985.

and blood poisoning near the island of Skyros

Gorham, Deborah. Vera Brittain: A Feminist Life.

in the Aegean Sea he was mourned throughout

Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.

England. When World War I extended into a

brutal and wholly unromantic conflict, however,

his patriotic, pro-war poems rang hollow, and the

Brooke, Rupert Chawner (1887–1915)

public lost interest and even attacked his work. In


the words of the scholar William E. Laskowski,

Rupert Brooke was born in Warwickshire, En-

Brooke was considered, for a time, “almost crimi-

gland, to William Parker Brooke, a high school

nal in his blind, unconscious” assistance of the

teacher, and Mary Ruth Cotterill Brooke. He

“Old Men who would send an entire generation

earned a B.A. from King’s College, Cambridge,

off to the slaughterhouses of the Marne and the

and before World War I served as a schoolmas-

Somme.” Despite the backlash against his work,

ter at Rugby School. He traveled to Germany and

however, the scholar Doris Eder writes that

America while writing his early poems.

Brooke’s “war sonnets perfectly captured the

Until the outbreak of World War I Brooke wrote

mood” of the war’s earliest moments, before the

Georgian poetry, which focused on country

coming disaster could be recognized, and suggests

settings and youthful love and was similar to the

that they are “deserving to be remembered.”

74 Brooke-Rose, Christine

Critical Analysis

view of metaphysics and just the language, one

Brooke’s death came at a bad time in terms of his

imagines, that fish would use.

reputation as a poet. His war poems, wonderful

though they may be, were written in the first flush

Other Works by Rupert Brooke

of patriotism at the beginning of World War I

The Col ected Poems of Rupert Brooke. Murrieta,

before Brooke or anyone else knew what the war

Calif.: Classic, 2001.

would become or the nature of poetry that would

The Letters of Rupert Brooke. Edited by Geoffrey

emerge from the horrors of this particularly

Keynes. London: Faber and Faber, 1968.

horrible war. His work seems dated, hopelessly

romantic, and, what is worse, irrelevant.

Works about Rupert Brooke

Perhaps the best known of Brooke’s war poems

Laskowski, William E. Rupert Brooke. New York:

is “The Soldier,” which describes the death and

Twayne, 1994.

accomplishments of an ordinary fighting man,

Lehmann, John. The Strange Destiny of Rupert

who speaks in the first person. “The Soldier” is

Brooke. New York: Holt, 1980.

a Petrarchan sonnet, divided into an eight-line

opening stanza (the octet) and a six-line conclu-

sion (the sestet). In the first four lines, the soldier

Brooke-Rose, Christine (1923– ) novelist

thinks about the possibility of his own death.

While there are some questions over Christine

The poem’s second and third lines are deservedly

Brooke-Rose’s birth date (some say 1926, others

famous. The soldier says that if he should die, the

argue 1923), she was certainly born in Geneva,

“corner of a foreign field” where he is buried will

Switzerland, to Evelyn Blanche Brooke and

be “for ever England.” After the fourth line, the

Alfred Northbrook Rose, a defrocked monk and

poem shifts to the soldier’s life and his love of

businessman who abandoned the family while

and delight in his native land. His is “a body of

Brooke-Rose was a child. She was educated in

England’s, breathing English air,/Washed by the

Belgium, where she lived with her mother and

rivers, blest by suns of home.” In death, “all evil

grandparents; and England, where she received

shed away,” the soldier imagines his spirit min-

her undergraduate degree from Oxford and a

gling with something eternal, giving “back some-

Ph.D. in Middle English from the University Col-

where the thoughts by England given.”

lege, London.

An oft-anthologized poem of Brooke’s that

Brooke-Rose is known as an experimental

shows him in an entirely different light as a poet,

postmodern British writer who pushes the lim-

is “Heaven.” This ironic poem is thoroughly

its of language and the concept of the novel with

modern and antiromantic. Here Brooke imag-

nonlinear, often fragmented plots that delve into

ines fish pondering questions of cosmology and

scientific issues such as genetics and nuclear war.

metaphysics. Their life in the water is wonder-

Her first novels, however, are traditional. The

ful, “fly-replete,” but they cannot help but won-

Sycamore Tree (1959), for instance, is a standard

der “Is there anything Beyond?” They believe,

novel of manners that focuses on the social inter-

in a parody of biblical language, that “somehow,

actions between two literary families in the Chel-

Good/Shall come of Water and of Mud,” and that

sea section of London. It mildly satirizes English

there is “A Purpose in Liquidity.” The fish imag-

social life, particularly the characters’ concern

ine heaven with the same naïveté that humans do,

with fashion, and is told in chronological order by

but through their own fishy lenses: “Somewhere

a third-person narrator.

there must be “wetter wet, slimier slime!” and the

Later in her career, however, Brooke-Rose’s

deity is fish shaped, “Squamous, omnipotent, and

writing changed dramatically as she experi-

kind.” This is a wonderful poem with a fish-eye

mented with form and explored science to such

Brooke-Rose, Christine 75

an extent that her most noteworthy novels— Xora-

figures whose afterlife depends on living people

ndor (1986), Verbivore (1990), and Textermination

reading their books. Near the beginning of the

(1991)—are classified as science fiction. Xorandor,

novel, Jane Austen’s Emma explains that the pur-

a novel written totally in dialogue, is narrated by

pose of the assembly of authors and characters is

two 12-year-old computer-programming twins,

Jip and Zab, who discover a living stone named

To pray together for our continuance of being,

Xorandor that communicates with computers.

but also for all our brethren, far more numer-

They further discover that the stone has been

ous than even we who are here, who remain

alive for 5,000 years and has a terrorist offspring.

dead in never-opened books, coffins upon

The twins spend the rest of the novel attempting

coffins stacked away in the great libraries of

to prevent the nuclear destruction threatened by

the world.

the terrorist stone. The novel is noteworthy not

only for its imaginative plot but also for its experi-

Brooke-Rose’s literary career has inspired lively

mental method of narration. At the beginning of

critical debates and a wide range of responses.

the novel, Brooke-Rose explains that Jib and Zab

Although critics admire her experimentation

are telepathic. Their dialogue reveals that they are

with the novel—her dual first-person narrators in

narrating this story jointly by dictating it into a

Xorandor, for instance—such science fiction ele-


ments as talking rocks and mysteriously jammed

radio waves often cause critics to view her as an

[I]t’s tough dictating this, Zab. It’d be much

author who writes outside of the British literary

easier typing it straight on the keyboard.

tradition. According to the scholar Morton P.

But then it’d all come from one of us only,

Levitt, “[s]he will likely always be something of

even if we took turns. One, it’s important to be

an exotic, acceptable as an ‘experimenter’ if only

two, and two, it’s easier to interrupt on vocal

because she is somehow foreign, and undeniably

than to push hands away. You agreed, Jip, you

outside the tradition.” Other critics, however, such

even dubbed it flipflop storytelling. . . .

as Tyrus Miller, assert that “her writing, what-

ever her chosen genre and form, is consistently

Verbivore is a sequel to Xorandor in which

thoughtful, provocative, witty, and technically

an unknown force interferes with all electronic

masterful” and will therefore “be recognized as

transmissions on Earth. This situation allows

one of the essential English-language writers of

Brooke-Rose to demonstrate how much contem-

the end of the twentieth century.”

porary society has come to rely on oral commu-

nication devices, such as telephones, radios, and

Other Works by Christine Brooke-Rose

televisions, and to imagine the difficulties that

Next. Manchester, England: Carcanet, 1998.

would ensue if all means of electronic commu-

Remake. Manchester, England: Carcanet, 1996.

nication disappeared. In the words of the scholar

Stories, Theories and Things. Cambridge: Cambridge

Sarah Birch, the novel suggests that “we have . . .

University Press, 1991.

been immersed for too long in a predominantly

Subscript. Manchester, England: Carcanet, 1999.

oral culture for it not to have permanently altered

our minds,” and that even a return to written

Works about Christine Brooke-Rose

communication would be extremely difficult.

Birch, Sarah. Christine Brooke-Rose and Contempo-

Textermination is yet another highly imagi-

rary Fiction. Oxford, England: Clarendon, 1994.

native novel that tells the story of a wide range

Friedman, Ellen J., and Richard Martin, eds. Utterly

of characters taken from other authors’ works

Other Discourse: The Texts of Christine Brooke-

assembled in a netherworld of deceased literary

Rose. Normal, Ill.: Dalkey Archive Press, 1995.

76 Brookmyre, Christopher

Brookmyre, Christopher (1968– ) crime

Aside from crime novels, Brookmyre also


writes satires of secret agent thrillers. These

Christopher Brookmyre was born in Barrhead,

works feature right-wing plutocrats or politician

outside Glasgow, on September 6, 1968, to Jack

villains and progressive-minded heroes who do

and Grace Brookmyre, an electrician and teacher,

not shy away from guns and explosions. Not the

respectively. He studied at Glasgow University,

End of the World (1998) deals with Christian fun-

then did editorial work in Edinburgh and Lon-

damentalism and Hollywood corporatism, while

don for a number of magazines and newspapers,

All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

including Screen International, the Scotsman, and

(2005), which won the 2006 Bollinger Everyman

the Edinburgh Evening News. In 1991 he married

Wodehouse Prize, lands a housebound Scottish

Marisa Haetzman and had a son, Jack.

grandmother in the middle of what might be a

He was hailed as a major new talent when his

James Bond movie, trying to outwit international

first published novel, Quite Ugly One Morning,

criminals in defense of her son.

won the inaugural Critics’ First Blood Award for

Quite Ugly One Morning was adapted for tele-

Best First Crime Novel of the Year in 1996. (This

vision in 2004, while Boiling a Frog was adapted

was actually his fourth novel.) In this book, he

for the stage in 2005.

sends up hard-boiled crime and Tory reforms

of the National Health Service. Jack Parlabane,

Other Works by Christopher Brookmyre

a cynical but passionate investigative journalist,

A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away. London: Little,

looks into grisly murders related to these reforms.

Brown, 2001.

Brookmyre’s dry wit, leftist political perspective,

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night. New York:

and distrust of the simplistic good-versus-bad

Grove Press, 2003.

morality that suffuses most crime novels all con-

The Sacred Art of Stealing. London: Little, Brown,

tributed to the book’s success.


Parlabane returned in several more novels,

A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil. Lon-

including Country of the Blind (1997), and Boil-

don: Little, Brown, 2006

ing a Frog (2000), which won the Sherlock Award

for Best Comic Detective, and Be My Enemy

Works about Christopher Brookmyre

(2004), in which Brookmyre criticizes what he

Brookmyre, Christopher. Author’s Web site. Avail-

calls the “vigilante philosophy” that has domi-

able online. URL:

nated Anglo-American politics since September

Accessed June 20, 2008.

11, 2001. In an interview, Brookmyre said that

the character Ford Prefect, from science fiction

writer Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide

Brookner, Anita (1928– ) novelist, art

to the Galaxy series, was the inspiration for Par-


labane: “I always adored the idea of a character

Anita Brookner, the only daughter of Newson

who cheerfully wanders into enormously dan-

and Maude Schiska Brookner, was born in Lon-

gerous situations and effortlessly makes them

don. Her father was a Polish Jewish businessman;

much worse.”

her mother gave up a career as a concert pianist

For books such as the Parlabane novels, full

on marrying. In England Brookner felt herself

of superb comedy, adrenaline-fueled action, and

a displaced person although she had been born,

intelligent leftist rage against the establishment,

was educated, and lived nearly all her life in Lon-

Brookmyre has often been compared with the

don. She remained single, and in an interview she

American novelist Carl Hiaasen. Brookmyre has

observed, “Mine was a dreary Victorian story: I

also been called a tartan noir writer.

nursed my parents till they died.”

Brookner, Anita 77

Brookner earned a bachelor’s degree in French

sor and an Austrian mother who writes romance

literature at the University of London and a doc-

novels. Insecure in her identity, she feels alienated.

torate in art history at the Courtauld Institute of

For many years she has been mired in a hope-

Art. From 1964 to 1987 she was a lecturer and

less affair as the self-effacing mistress of a mar-

reader at the Courtauld Institute, and she was the

ried art dealer, David Simmonds. She becomes

first woman to be appointed Slade Professor of

engaged to the colorless Geoffrey Long but bolts

Art at Cambridge University (1967–68). Brookner

from marriage at the last moment. Edith takes

published celebrated studies of the painters Wat-

refuge from her lover and husband-to-be in an

teau, Greuze, and David. Her Romanticism and

off-season Swiss hotel, where a wealthy, attractive

Its Discontents (2001) is a study of 19th-century

fellow guest, Philip Neville, proposes a marriage

romantic painting.

of convenience to her. Discovering that Neville is

In her novels Brookner’s protagonists are usu-

having an affair with a beautiful young woman,

ally sensitive, refined, and lovelorn middle-aged

however, Edith returns to London and her old

women of foreign background; their search for

life. As critic John Skinner observes, Hotel du Lac

love often entails freeing themselves from smoth-

demonstrates that “the juxtaposition of romantic

ering family ties. Her first novel, A Start in Life

longing with detached analysis of such feelings

(1981), established the pattern the author would

remains central to Brookner’s fiction.”

fol ow in most of her fiction. The story fol ows

Among Brookner’s many novels, Family

Ruth Weiss, a Balzac scholar who goes to Paris

and Friends (1985) is unusual, as it is a family

to do research on the great French writer. At the

saga based on a series of wedding photographs.

outset, at age 40, Ruth “knew that her life had

Brookner said it was inspired by one of her

been ruined by literature” and thwarted by her

grandmother’s wedding photos. The strong-

elderly parents. The care and energy she should

willed fictional matriarch Sofka is at the center

have lavished on life have instead gone into tend-

of the novel, which is also the story of her four

ing her parents and her studies. In Paris she hopes

children and how none of them follows the script

but fails to find love and freedom. The novel ends

she has written for them. Brookner has said that

with her return to her empty life back home.

Family and Friends is “the only one of my books I

Brookner’s work in general may be traced to the

truly like.” According to the critic Derwent May,

French moraliste tradition of analytical, unsenti-

this novel has a strongly visual and spatial qual-

mental novels. In Providence (1982) the protago-

ity, much like “some painting, with a group of

nist, daughter of a cosmopolitan family (this time

figures who take on different appearances as you

British/French), is an academic specializing in

tilt . . . or rotate it, but are always held in exactly

French literature. She falls hopelessly in love with

the same pattern.”

an art historian who is scarcely aware of her. In

Brookner’s work, admired for its lucidity and

Look at Me (1983) Frances Hinton, a medical ref-

elegance, nevertheless exhibits considerable

erence librarian, falls under the spell of a glamor-

sameness and narrowness of plot and character.

ous couple and is attracted to a male colleague,

As the writer Carol Anshaw observes, the author’s

but all three eventually spurn her timid overtures.

universe is one “where the meek inherit nothing

Frances consoles herself with the thought that

but the crumbs of the bold and where the bold

although “problems of human behavior continue

make rather trivial use of their loaf.”

to baffle us . . . at least in the library we have them

properly filed.”

Works about Anita Brookner

Brookner’s most successful novel, Hotel du Lac

Malcolm, Cheryl Alexander. Understanding Anita

(1984), won the Booker Prize. The protagonist,

Brookner. Columbia: University of South Caro-

Edith Hope, is the daughter of an English profes-

lina Press, 2002.

78 Brophy, Brigid

Skinner, John. The Fictions of Anita Brookner: Il u-

bing, swelling, sawing, sweating, her body was at

sions of Romance. New York: St. Martin’s Press,

last convulsed by the wave that broke inside it.”


Lengthy philosophical speculations fill pages in

Stadler, Lynn V. Anita Brookner. Boston: Twayne,

between sexual encounters; one character asks


rather peevishly, “Have you noticed what a meta-

physical ball this is?”

One of Brophy’s most acclaimed books is The

Brophy, Brigid (1929–1995) novelist, short

Adventures of God in His Search for the Black Girl

story writer, playwright, nonfiction writer

(1973), a collection of modern fairy tales with

Brigid Brophy was born in London. Her mother,

feminist and philosophical themes. Brophy wrote

Charis Brophy, had been a headmistress and

much that could be described as feminist, but

nurse and was an air-raid warden during Lon-

she never fell neatly into any particular school of

don’s Blitz. Her father, John Brophy, was a novel-

feminism. For example, she spoke about the way

ist, and Brigid herself began writing when young.

sexism is prevalent in contemporary society but is

She won a scholarship to Oxford in 1947 but was

hard to see: “It appears that cages have been abol-

soon expelled for drinking in chapel. She subse-

ished. Yet in practice women are still kept in their

quently spent several years working as a typist for

place just as firmly as the [zoo] animals are kept

a publisher of pornographic literature.

in their enclosures.” Brophy also felt that monog-

Brophy’s first book was a collection of six short

amy and marriage are archaic, and she spoke out

stories, The Crown Princess and Other Stories

against censoring pornography. She argued that

(1953). The title story describes an imaginary

censorship laws can be used to repress social

nation that is so obsessed with the private life of

change in unexpected ways: “A society that is not

their princess that nobody can work. At the same

free to be outraged is not free to change.” In many

time, the princess herself pores over numerous

ways Brophy’s arguments foreshadowed the pro-

magazine articles about herself and increasingly

sexuality feminist movement that became popu-

feels she is not real. When she thought of who she

lar after the mid-1980s.

was, “the imagination groped and encountered

Brophy also wrote several nonfiction books,

nothing. It was led on and on: to more and more

many with psychoanalytic themes. Black Ship


to Hel (1962) examines human destructive in-

In the same year Brophy published her first

stincts, while Mozart the Dramatist (1964) re-

novel, Hackenfel er’s Ape, a science-fiction story

reads Mozart as a passionate person who resisted

in which an ape acquires human sexual inhibi-

the repressions of his time. Brophy has also writ-

tions that bewilder and pain him. The ape grows

ten several books on the fin-de-siècle, the turn of

increasingly distressed over “[h]is own puzzling

the century around 1900, when there was much

need to be fastidious.” The novel was critically

decadent, glamorous poetry and art. Brophy’s

acclaimed and won the Cheltenham Literary

Black and White (1968) discusses one of the ar-

Festival award. Brophy wrote several more books

tistic stars of this era, the erotic artist Aubrey

featuring animals and was a passionate defender


of animal rights.

Brophy was always alert to the question of why

Many of Brophy’s novels grapple with two

an author writes. She once wrote that she did not

themes: sexual desire and the attraction of

believe an author writes a novel in order to com-

death. The Snow Bal (1964) features both. The

municate: “If one bothers about its reception by

novel, which describes a wild New Year’s cos-

others at all, one’s wish for the work of art is not

tume party, caused some controversy for its

that it should be understood but that it should be

description of female orgasm: “Suffering, sob-


Brown, George Mackay 79

Brophy was a daring writer who was impatient

and Glasgow and the Open University, and was a

with conventions, and her irreverence can be

Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

seen in her nonfiction book Fifty Works of Eng-

The landscape, speech, and rich Norse history

lish and American Literature We Could Do With-

of the Orkney Islands, where Brown spent almost

out (1967). Cowritten with her husband, an art

his entire life, strongly influenced his writing.

historian, the book dismisses many much-loved

His first collection of poetry, The Storm (1954),

works as literarily inept, from Shakespeare’s

explores these themes in a way that critic Kate

Hamlet to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

Grimond calls “simple, but not naive, lyrical not

Brophy contends, for example, that Lewis Car-

whimsical,” as in these lines from “Further than

roll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “lurches

Hoy” in The Storm:

from one laboured situation to the next,” and she

dismisses Virginia Woolf’s acclaimed novel To

the legends thicken

the Lighthouse as “reducing human experience

the buried broken

to the gossipy level of the shallowest layer of

vases and columns.


In 1969 Brophy collaborated with Maureen

Brown’s novels continue his explorations of the

Duffy to prepare a Pop Art exhibition. Brophy

Orkney Islands. Beside the Ocean of Time (1994),

published selections of her earlier journalism

which was short-listed for the Booker Prize and

in Don’t Never Forget (1966). Brophy also wrote

recognized as Scottish Book of the Year, tells the

plays, including The Burglar (1967) and a satiri-

story of a bored schoolboy who escapes into his

cal radio play about American life, The Waste

imagination to dream the history of his remote

Disposal Unit (1964). From 1984 onward Brophy

island home. This passage introduces the reader

suffered severely from multiple sclerosis. She

to the island through the experience of visitors

is remembered particularly for her original-

interacting with the locals: “It was to an island

ity and political commitments, and in 1969 Life

satiated with festival that the three mysterious

Magazine called her “the best prose writer of her

strangers came. In those days, the country people


went out of their way to be pleasant and welcom-

ing to visitors, but those men, from first setting

Other Works by Brigid Brophy

foot on Norday, didn’t seem to care what the

In Transit (1969). Harmondsworth, England: Pen-

islanders thought of them.”

guin, 1971.

The Golden Bird (1987), which contains two

Reads. London: Cardinal, 1989.

stories about Orkney, won the James Tait Black

Memorial Prize. Literary critic Sabina Schmid

has praised “Brown’s ability to widen his vision

Brown, George Mackay (1921–1996)

and to invest the typically Orcadian conscious-

poet, novelist

ness and the often local setting with a universal

“The Bard of Orkney,” as George Mackay Brown


was known, was born in Stromness in the Orkney

Islands off the north coast of Scotland, the young-

Other Works by George Mackay Brown

est son of John Brown, a postman, and his wife,

A Calendar of Love. 1967. Reprint, North Pomfret,

Mhari. Brown suffered from tuberculosis for

England: Trafalgar Square, 2000.

more than 10 years, during which time he started

For the Islands I Sing: An Autobiography. London:

writing poetry. He attended Newbattle Adult

John Murray, 1998.

Education College in Midlothian, received hon-

The Sea and the Tower. Calgary, Alberta: Bayeux

orary degrees from the Universities of Dundee

Arts, 1997.

80 Brunner, John Killian Houston

Works about George Mackay Brown

This sometimes uncanny knack for predicting

Fergusson, Maggie. George Mackay Brown: The Life.

future trends and inventions is perhaps shown

London: John Murray, 2007.

most clearly in The Shockwave Rider (1975), which

Spear, Hilda, ed. George Mackay Brown: A Survey of

features an Internet-like global data network.

His Work and Full Bibliography. New York: Ed-

Brunner’s observations and extrapolations of the

win Mellen Press, 2000.

present serve as warnings to readers of dire con-

Yamada, Osamu, et al. The Contribution to Litera-

sequences if various political, social, and envi-

ture of Orcadian Writer George Mackay Brown.

ronmental trends go unchecked. As he explains

New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992.

in The Shockwave Rider, “For all the claims one

hears about the liberating impact of the data-net,

the truth is that it’s wished on most of us a brand-

Brunner, John Killian Houston (Keith

new reason for paranoia.”

Woodcott) (1934–1995) novelist, short

In addition to the Hugo Award, Brunner also

story writer

won the British Science Fiction Award, the Brit-

Born in Oxfordshire, England, John Brunner was

ish Fantasy Award, and the Apollo Award. Fellow

a writer of mysteries, spy novels, and mainstream

science-fiction author James Blish said of Brun-

fiction. He remains best known, however, for his

ner’s writing, “The work has beauty, compassion,

science fiction, which he began publishing in 1951

power, precision, and immediacy. It is not science

with Galactic Storm.

fiction as we used to know it, but we are all the

A prolific writer, Brunner turned out nearly

better for that.”

100 short stories and some 40 novels in the next

decade and a half. Many of these works were col-

Other Works by John Brunner

orful adventure tales, such as Sanctuary in the

The Crucible of Time. New York: Del Rey Books,

Sky (1960), which concerns the struggle of three


interstellar civilizations for control of a mysteri-

The Jagged Orbit. New York: Ace Books, 1969.

ous artificial world; and Times without Number

A Maze of Stars. New York: Del Rey Books, 1991.

(1962), which relates the escapades of a time-trav-

The Sheep Look Up. New York: Harper & Row,

eling agent based in a world where the Spanish


Armada conquered England.

Major success came with Brunner’s novel

A Work about John Brunner

Stand on Zanzibar (1968), which earned him the

De Bolt, Joseph, ed. The Happening Worlds of John

science-fiction field’s Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Brunner: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction.

Considered a classic of science fiction, Stand on

Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1975.

Zanzibar follows a large cast of characters living

in a severely overpopulated 21st-century world.

This work showcases Brunner’s skill for predicting

Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman) (1894–

certain aspects and issues of modern life, such as

1983) novelist, poet, film critic

government eavesdropping, genetic engineering,

Born Annie Winifred Ellerman in Kent, England,

and the influence of mass media. The characters

to Sir John Reeves Ellerman, a wealthy shipping

Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere, for example, are two

magnate, and Hannah Grover Ellerman, Bryher

newscasters whose appearance is altered accord-

traveled extensively as a child and read history

ing to the nationality of the individual viewers.

and classical literature. In 1914 she published a

“Whatever my country and whatever my name,”

volume of poetry titled Region of Lutany and Other

goes the corporate line, “a gadget on the set makes

Poems. In 1919 Bryher befriended the American

me think the same.”

poet Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), with whom she sub-

Buchan, John 81

sequently traveled extensively. Bryher took her

“given renewed vitality and meaning to incidents

pseudonym from one of the Scilly Islands they

of the past. Her historical novels are short, highly

visited. The two women developed a deep friend-

charged analogies to situations and problems that

ship that inspired the writing careers of both.

bedevil our days and nights.”

Bryher’s first novel, Development (1920), a can-

did exploration of her artistic development and

Other Works by Bryher

sexual identity as a teenager, became an unex-

The Roman Wal . New York: Harcourt, 1954.

pected success. Although she was a lesbian, the fol-

Visa for Avalon. New York: Harcourt, 1965.

lowing year she married editor Robert McAlmon.

Together they established the Contact Press,

A Work about Bryher

which published the works of many important

Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank Paris,

writers, such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway,

1900–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press,

Dorothy Richardson, and Ezra Pound. Bryher


also financed the Egoist Press, which published

the works of H.D. and McAlmon. In 1927 she

divorced McAlmon and married artist Kenneth

Buchan, John (1875–1940) novelist,

Macpherson. The couple founded a film company

nonfiction writer

and a film criticism magazine, Close Up. Bryher

John Buchan (pronounced Buck-an) was born in

then wrote Film Problems of Soviet Russia (1929),

Perth, Scotland, to Helen and the Reverend John

her only work of film criticism. From 1935 to 1950

Buchan. He published six books, including his first

she published Life and Letters Today, a literary

novel, Sir Quixote of the Moors (1895), before com-

review journal. After 1940 she wrote 10 novels

pleting his classics degree at Oxford University.

and two autobiographies.

Licensed to practice law in 1901, Buchan spent

Bryher is best known for her historical nov-

two years in South Africa administering Boer

els. Many critics consider Gate to the Sea (1958),

refugee camps. Returning to London in 1903, he

the story of an ancient Italian tribe’s defeat of

wrote an authoritative book on tax law and pro-

Poseidonia in the fourth century, one of her best

duced numerous political articles for the Spectator.

works. This January Tale (1966) takes a negative

He married Susan Grosvenor in 1907, and soon

view of the Norman conquest of the Saxons in

after, he became literary adviser for Thomas Nel-

1066. Critic Richard Winston wrote, “Like all of

son and Sons. He wrote several books for the pub-

Bryher’s fiction . . . it is both swiftly moving and

lishing company, including Prester John (1910), in

perfectly static, full of action and yet fixed in time

which a young Scot thwarts a Zulu uprising. This

and space, slight yet comprehensive.”

boys’ adventure was the first of Buchan’s works to

Bryher often wrote about friendship and loy-

gain a worldwide readership.

alty among men. She believed in these virtues

During World War I Buchan wrote a serial

but frequently wrote with a tragic vision. Her

called History of the War (1915–19), with a new

characters often face separation and suffering. At

section appearing every two weeks. Commis-

the end of Gate to the Sea, a slave named Lykos

sioned as an officer in the Intelligence Corps, he

reflects, “Never believe the philosophers who

became head of the new Department of Infor-

say that we learn through suffering. I have never

mation in 1917. After the war Buchan became a

accepted either my lameness or our slavery. I have

director of the Reuters news agency and wrote

endured but resented them, every waking hour.”

more than a book a year, even after his election

Critics have praised her historical novels for

to the House of Commons in 1927. He was cre-

their accuracy, clear descriptions, and relevance.

ated Baron Tweedsmuir and appointed Governor

Reviewer Horace Gregory writes that she has

General of Canada in 1935.

82 Buchanan, George Henry Perrott

Although Buchan wrote in many genres,

Buchanan’s first novel, A London Story (1935),

including history, biography, and literary criti-

contrasts the careers of two brothers; one resists

cism, his reputation today rests mainly on what

the oppression of his employer, and the other

he called his “shockers,” or thrillers, the best of

bows to it. Much of Buchanan’s fiction is set in

which feature Richard Hannay or Edward Lei-

World War II, including A Place to Live (1952),

then, decent men who must protect the world

a novel about a Royal Air Force pilot who later

from anarchy. Buchan’s background in intel-

finds contentment running a hotel after the war.

ligence gives these adventures credibility. His

In one of his best-known works, Rose Forbes

best-known novel, The Thirty-nine Steps (1915),

(1937), Buchanan addresses what became a com-

introduces mining engineer Richard Hannay, an

mon topic for him: middle-class adult sexuality.

ordinary man who is pursued across Scotland as

The main character is an Irish woman seeking

he tries to stop a conspiracy to start a war between

emotional and sexual fulfillment through a series

Germany and Britain. According to reviewer

of marriages and affairs. This novel, like many

Joyce Park, this first Hannay adventure is a “fast-

of Buchanan’s other writings, also explores how

paced, brilliantly conceived story” from which

social and political crises wear on people and

every subsequent “ ‘innocent man falsely accused,

have brought about the decline of the Victorian

fleeing from both bad guys and police’ tale” takes

middle class. While walking in a London park,

its inspiration. It was made into a movie by Alfred

Rose sadly reflects, “During the early years of the

Hitchcock in 1935. Biographer Janet Adam Smith

century, people would walk here feeling . . . that

believes the appeal of Buchan’s classic thrillers is

they all were in a smooth carriage, being comfort-

their ability to “convey a sense of the real possibil-

ably borne to well-appointed future. Today they

ity of evil and irrational forces breaking through

have been robbed of that facile optimism.”

the façade of civilized life.”

Buchanan’s poetry also reflects a gloomy

outlook on the effects that the social and politi-

Other Works by John Buchan

cal convulsions of the 20th century have had on

The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay. Boston:

Britain. In “Multiplicity” ( Minute-Book of a City,

Godine, 1988.

1972 collection), Buchanan writes, “Multiplied

The Leithen Stories. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2000.

Hamlet is the Chamberlain government hesitat-

ing before the murderers of Europe.” In the poem

A Work about John Buchan

“Kilwaughter (to C.H.L.B.)” he laments “the poets

Smith, Janet Adam. John Buchan and His World.

grew up to be recruited for another war.” His pes-

New York: Scribner, 1979.

simistic vision is also seen in the poem “Second

Thoughts,” in which he writes, “the principal sec-

ond thought is death.” In describing Buchanan,

Buchanan, George Henry Perrott

scholar John Foster Wilson notes that it is “the

(1904–1989) novelist, poet, essayist

social backcloth, a backcloth of middle class

George Buchanan was born in Larne, Ireland,

decline, that gives ballast to the lightweight coy-

to Henry Buchanan, a country clergyman, and

ness and gnomic affectation that tend to mar his

Florence Moore Buchanan. He was educated at

work. . . . Distant explosions and gentle decay at

Larne Grammar School, Campbell College in

home characterize . . . Buchanan’s fiction.”

Belfast, and the University of Belfast. In 1925

he moved to London and became a journalist,

Other Works by George Buchanan

working as a subeditor for the London Times

The Green Seacoast. London: Gaberbocchus, 1959.

and as a columnist and drama critic for the New

Possible Being. Manchester, England: Carcanet New


Press, 1980.

Burgess, Anthony 83

Bunting, Basil (1900–1985) poet, journalist

. . . the stone spel s a name

Basil Bunting was born and died in Northum-

naming none,

berland, England. His father, T. L. Bunting, a

a man abolished.

physician, and his mother, Annie Cheesman

Bunting, were Quakers. He attended the Lon-

Here alliteration is chiefly on the letter n and

don School of Economics and spent much of his

assonance on the vowel o—“stone” and “none” set

life as a journalist and music critic. He assisted

up a slant rhyme in Northumbrian dialect. In the

Ford Madox Ford on the Transatlantic Review

following lines from Part V, alliteration is on d, l,

in Paris.

sh, and s sounds:

Bunting’s list of published works is short:

Redimiculum Metal arum (1930); Poems: 1950;

The sheets are gathered and bound,

The Spoils (1965); Briggflatts: An Autobiography

The volume indexed and shelved,

(1966), and his Col ected Poems, published in 1968

dust on its marbled leaves.

and as Complete Poems in 2000. Although he was

a fine poet, he shunned literary society for most

As the scholar Neil Corcoran observes,

of his life. He was a disciple of the American poet

“Repeated images, reiterated motifs, the sense

Ezra Pound and moved to Rapallo, Italy, where

of variations . . . on central themes, all help give

Pound lived, in 1924. Like Pound’s work, Bun-

[Bunting’s] work an integrity of organization rare

ting’s poetry shows concreteness and musicality.

in modernist long poems.”

Bunting also claimed William Wordsworth as a

lifelong influence, sharing Wordsworth’s passion

Other Works by Basil Bunting

for nature and for spoken verse.

Basil Bunting on Poetry. Edited by Peter Makin. Bal-

Bunting’s poetry is intensely musical. In his

timore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

introduction to Col ected Poems he writes: “I have

The Complete Poems. Edited by Richard Caddel.

set down words as a musician . . . not to be read in

New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

silence, but to trace in the air a pattern of sound

that may . . . be pleasing.” In this volume his long

A Work about Basil Bunting

poems, including Vil on, The Spoils, and Brig-

Forde, Victoria, The Poetry of Basil Bunting. Chester

gflatts, are listed as “Sonatas,” free-verse lyrics as

Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1992.

“Odes,” and translations as “Overdrafts.”

Bunting was particularly attracted to the

long poem, of which his best example and one

Burgess, Anthony (John Anthony Burgess

of his finest poetic achievements is Briggflatts.

Wilson, Joseph Kell) (1917–1993) novelist,

A poem in five movements, in its structure and


musicality it recalls T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets,

Of Irish descent, Anthony Burgess was born John

although the mood is sterner and less transcen-

Anthony Burgess Wilson in Manchester, Eng-

dental. Briggflatts emulates Anglo-Saxon verse

land. His father, Joseph Wilson, was a cashier and

in predominantly four-stressed lines employ-

a part-time pianist in a local pub. His mother,

ing alliteration and assonance (repetition of

Elizabeth Burgess, a music-hall dancer, died in an

consonant and vowel sounds, often in initial or

influenza epidemic when Burgess was two years

stressed syllables, respectively). It is filled with

old. Burgess received Catholic schooling, but at 16

Northumbrian local and historical allusions.

he rejected Roman Catholicism. Graduating from

The poem begins with the poet calmly contem-

Manchester University in 1940, he joined the

plating death as a mason inscribes his name on

Royal Army Medical Corps, although he com-

his tombstone:

pleted his wartime duty working in intelligence.

84 Burgess, Anthony

After the war he taught school. In 1960 Burgess

what should I slooshy but the shoom of the old

was diagnosed with brain cancer and given, at

police-auto siren . . . the old forella of the pusscats

most, one year to live. Spurred by the diagnosis,

had been on the phone to the millicents when I

he became a prolific writer, and by the time he

thought she’d been govoreeting to the mewl-

did die of cancer 33 years later, he had written 50

ers and mowlers.” Nadsat, which derives from

books and hundreds of essays. A number of the

the Russian word for teenager, embodies youth’s

latter, covering writers, composers, and history,

rebellion against the “clockwork” society that

appear in One Man’s Chorus (1998).

offends them. Nadsat is, at once, their own pos-

Burgess’s first published novel, Time for a Tiger

session and a mark of participation in humanity’s

(1956), a novel about the British in Malaysia, intro-

drive for liberty across time. American author

duced his pen name, Anthony Burgess. (Joseph

William Burroughs wrote, “I do not know of any

Kell was another of his pseudonyms.) His novels

other writer who has done as much with language

are generally satirical, addressing moral issues

as . . . Burgess has done here.”

and social ills. His impassioned humanism con-

Perhaps Burgess’s most vivid character is F. X.

tains lingering accents of his former Catholicism.

Enderby, a variously marginalized, humorously

Burgess’s best-known novel is A Clockwork

idiosyncratic everyman inhabiting four novels:

Orange (1962), which critic Esther Petix calls

Inside Mr. Enderby (1963), Enderby Outside (1968),

a “horrible [vision] of the future, predicated

The Clockwork Testament (1974), and Enderby’s

upon the present”—a projection of “excesses of

Dark Lady (1984). In the first novel a character

the Welfare state.” As the book opens, a gang of

tells us, “[l]ife . . . has to be lived” rather than

young teenage thugs are on a raping, robbing,

turned into adolescent poetry. However, Robert K.

and killing rampage. However, the focus shifts

Morris writes, “Enderby makes the strongest, yet

to the state’s aggressive experiments in behavior

most human case possible for whatever self-pos-

modification to render the gang’s leader, Alex,

session and indivisibility the artist might yet have

no longer a threat. The price of society’s safety,

in a world doing its damnedest to usurp [him].”

the state assumes, is the loss of free will in those

Burgess’s novel Earthly Powers (1980) is a pseu-

whom society “cures.” Burgess questions this

domemoir that surveys the 20th century. Its narra-

assumption, placing it in a theological framework

tor, Kenneth Marchal Toomey, draws on Burgess’s

that considers the relationship of goodness to

own past and often echoes the author’s views, as

the exercise of free will. (The novel’s concluding

when he notes that Nazi Germany “had abdi-

chapter—omitted from U.S. editions until 1988—

cated the rights and duties of freedom of moral

exposes the state as misguided in its reformative

choice.” However, Toomey is homosexual, while

zeal.) Having reverted to his pre-“treated” state,

Burgess was not—a point that both of Burgess’s

Alex nevertheless has grown tired of his violence,

autobiographies, Little Wilson and Big God (1986)

but will his resolve be undone or just sublimated?

and You’ve Had Your Time (1990), felt obliged

Scholar Samuel Coale notes that “in [Burgess’s]

to make. “Burgess, despite the variety of narra-

novels[,] good and evil interpenetrate one

tors and situations in his fiction,” critic William

another. . . . There are moments when good seems

H. Pritchard writes, “speaks to us as one of us: a

to conquer evil, but these are only moments in an

fallen man with the usual amount of ambition,

endless flux of time and space.”

irritation, guilt, decency and common sense.”

Burgess created Nadsat, the language that the

thugs speak, mostly from Russian, English Cock-

Other Works by Anthony Burgess

ney slang, and inventions of his own. While try-

Byrne. London: Hutchinson, 1995.

ing to rob a woman with a house full of cats, Alex

A Dead Man in Deptford. New York: Carroll & Graf,

thinks, “Among all the crarking kots and koshkas


Byatt, A. S. 85

A Work about Anthony Burgess

The Locust Room. London: Jonathan Cape, 2001.

Bloom, Harold. Anthony Burgess. Broomall, Pa.:

The Myth of the Twin. London: Secker & Warburg,

Chelsea House, 1992.


Selected Poems. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006.

Swimming in the Flood. London: Jonathan Cape,

Burnside, John (1955– ) poet, novelist,


short story writer, teacher

John Burnside was born March 19, 1955, in Dun-

Works about John Burnside

fermline, Scotland. His career as a published

Elder, John, and J. Scott Bryson. Ecopoetry: A Criti-

writer began with his first book of poetry, The

cal Introduction. Salt Lake City: University of

Hoop, in 1988. Since 1996 he has done freelance

Utah Press, 2002.

work while maintaining a interest in fiction and

Gifford, Terry. Green Voices: Understanding Con-

poetry and pursuing a career as an educator.

temporary Nature Poetry. Manchester, England:

He studied English and European languages at

University of Manchester Press, 1995.

the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology in

England. He has been a writer in residence at the

University of Dundee and now teaches creative

Byatt, A. S. (Antonia Susan Byatt)

writing at the University of St. Andrews, both in

(1936– ) novelist, literary critic

his native Scotland. He also has worked as a com-

A. S. Byatt was born in Sheffield, England, to John

puter software engineer.

Frederick Drabble, a judge, and Kathleen Marie

The Hoop was awarded the Scottish Arts

Drabble, a teacher. She is the sister of novelist

Council Book Award. Other awards to Burnside’s

Margaret Drabble. Although they came from

credit are the Geoffrey Faber Memorial prize for

working-class backgrounds, both her parents were

Feast Days (1992); the Whitbread Poetry Award

educated at Cambridge University, which Byatt

for Asylum Dance (2000); and the Encore Award

also attended, receiving her bachelor’s degree in

for The Mercy Boys (2000).

1957. She also did graduate work in art and lit-

Burnside is one of the few writers of his gen-

erature at Bryn Mawr College and Oxford during

eration who still write in the pastoral tradition

the late 1950s. In 1959 she married the economist

on the themes of nature in literature. He has a

Charles Rayner Byatt.

longstanding interest in environmental matters.

Byatt’s work as a novelist, literary critic, and

While he does not reject science, his prose and

lecturer has earned her acclaim as one of Britain’s

poetry exhibit an abiding interest in the intersec-

finest contemporary writers. As a critic, she has

tion between the occasionally mystical qualities

written about such women writers as Jane Aus-

of the pastoral tradition and the hard, practical

ten, George Eliot, and Iris Murdoch. Called a

facts of the scientific. His emphasis is upon what

postmodern Victorian by one critic, she deals in

lies below the surface in daily existence.

her fiction with themes that incorporate histori-

cal subjects with modern literary forms. She once

Other Works by John Burnside

claimed, “I see writing as a passionate activity,

Burning Elvis. London: Jonathan Cape, 1999.

like any other,” a sentiment that has carried over

Common Knowledge. London: Secker & Warburg,

into all of her writing.


Byatt drew upon her own early experiences as

The Devil’s Footprints. London: Jonathan Cape,

a young writer for her first novel, The Shadow of


the Sun (1964), which tells the story of an aspiring

A Lie About My Father. London: Jonathan Cape,

female novelist. Like her protagonist, Byatt felt


that she had to overcome a great deal as a woman

86 Byatt, A. S.

writer: “When you’re a woman,” she says, “you

pher trying to uncover the details of a minor his-

start with one hand tied behind your back.”

torical figure.

Byatt’s most acclaimed novel is Possession

Although Byatt has described her political

(1990), which won the prestigious Booker Prize.

affiliation as radical, she has also said she does not

The book uses historical sources from the late 19th

use her writing as a vehicle to express her politi-

century to tell the story of two English scholars,

cal opinions. “Of course I am a feminist,” Byatt

Roland Michell and Maud Baily, who are engaged

has remarked, “but I don’t want to be required

in the obsessive study of two Victorian poets,

to write a feminist programme, and I feel uneasy

and the love affair that ultimately results from

when this seems to be asked of me.” For reviewer

their work together. Byatt’s biographer Kathleen

Donna Seaman, Byatt remains “a dazzling story-

Coyne Kelly comments, “Part academic potboiler,

teller and a keen observer of the power and sig-

part suspense story, part romance, it is a virtu-

nificance of her medium.”

oso postmodernist exercise that weaves together

many strands: a contemporary story of academic

Critical Analysis

conflicts, rivalries and discoveries; a 19th century

The Internet magazine Salon has called Byatt

chronicle of ill-fated love; and a meditation on the

the “patron saint of bookworms.” This is an apt

imagination and creativity.”

description that hints at her rich and allusive style.

Byatt’s Angels and Insects (1992) is a collec-

No matter the subject of a Byatt novel, the reader

tion of two novellas, “Morpho Eugenia” and

is treated to references to Victorian literature,

“The Conjugial Angel,” which are set in the 19th

metaphysical and modern poets, Elizabethan

century and together deal with the clash between

drama, literary theory, myth and fable, linguis-

faith and reason. “Morpho Eugenia” (the title is

tics, education theory, religion, neuroscience, phi-

taken from the name of a rare butterfly) is a story

losophy, biology, botany—the list goes on and on.

of metamorphosis and the attempt to unlock the

Ultimately, this dense fabric of allusion seems to

mysteries of the natural world: “When evening

connect the characters in the novel and their story

came, he had a newly hatching large cocoon,

with the world of knowledge itself, with all stories

which he took along with him to the conserva-

past and future. Byatt’s language, too, is rich, dif-

tory; watching it would be a kind of reasonable

ficult, and precise. It is hard to think of any other

employment whilst he waited to see if she would

author, for example, who would have need of the

come.” “The Conjugial Angel” focuses more on

word steatopygious—twice in one novel, as Byatt

the idea of spiritual transformation by explor-

does in Still Life. (The word means having large

ing the Victorian interest in séances and the

buttocks.) In addition to being wonderfully well


read, Byatt is intelligent, funny, wise, witty, and,

Two other well-known works by Byatt include

above all, a fascinating storyteller.

Babel Tower (1996) and The Biographer’s Tale

Her most popular novel is Possession (1990), the

(2000). The former work is the third novel in a

story of a pair of literary scholars, Roland Michell

planned tetralogy that includes The Virgin in

and Maud Bailey, who discover a secret love affair

the Garden (1978) and Still Life (1987). Set in the

between two long-dead Victorian poets, modeled

1960s, Babel Tower is a memoir of what some crit-

to some extent on Robert Browning and Christina

ics labeled the “permissive society” of the post–

Rossetti. The novel is a literary detective tale, in

World War II era, a period plagued with political

which the scholars search out the truth of the rela-

and moral scandals. “You waste your own time,

tionship between the poets, with the added spice

since there is no God,” one character proclaims

of competition, as other, rather unscrupulous

provocatively. The Biographer’s Tale is a satire of

scholars, try to beat them to the scoop. Amazingly,

academic life that follows the story of a biogra-

Byatt does not just refer to the work of the two Vic-

Byatt, A. S. 87

torians, she reproduces it. She writes entire poems

the nature of the relationship, and the questions

that are included in the text itself, in two entirely

would do a great deal more harm to Christabel’s

different styles, so convincingly real that well-read

reputation than to Randolph’s. Similarly, Maud

people have gone to literary encyclopedias looking

Bailey hides her hair because she is fearful of

for information on these fictional poets. Literary

being too attractive. If she is too pretty, she will

critics writing on Possession go so far as to analyze

not be taken seriously as a scholar. As Christabel

the poems for themes and motifs that both inform

and Randolph fall in love, much to the detriment

the poems and reverberate throughout the novel.

of Christabel’s life as a poet, Maud and Roland

In addition, Byatt creates and includes in the novel

fear to become involved, partly because as mod-

an entire secret correspondence between the two

ernists they question the very existence of the self

Victorian poets, as well as the diary of another

that falls in love and partly because Maud fears

character. Byatt has been called the great ventrilo-

the extent to which love will limit her freedom.

quist for her ability to write convincingly in so

The novel’s title is significant in this regard; both

many voices, so many styles.

women fear being possessed by love; they fear los-

One of Byatt’s favorite themes throughout the

ing themselves, becoming the property of their

entire body of her work is that of the independent,


intelligent, literary woman and how she is to exist,

Postmodern and Victorian at the same time,

without betraying her true nature, in a culture

Possession is a fitting introduction to the work of

that stereotypes and limits women. Interestingly,

A. S. Byatt, although it is in some ways less dif-

Possession makes it clear that the 20th century,

ficult than her other works, less thoughtful, less

despite feminism and feminist literary critics, is

challenging. Byatt does not write for the faint of

no kinder to women who choose a different path

heart or the easily discouraged.

than was the 19th century. The Victorian poet

Christabel LaMotte resists continuing a corre-

Other Works by A. S. Byatt

spondence with Randolph Henry Ash because, as

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye: Five Fairy Stories.

she says, “If I am jealous of my freedom to live

New York: Random House, 1997.

as I do [as a single, independent woman]—and

The Matisse Stories. New York: Random House,

manage my own affairs—and work my work—I


must be more than usual y careful to remain suf-

Passions of the Mind. New York: Random House,

ficiently respectable in the eyes of the world . . .


to evade . . . niggling restrictions on my freedom

of movement.” If word should get out that she is

A Work about A. S. Byatt

receiving letters from a married man—no matter

Kelly, Kathleen Coyne. A. S. Byatt. Boston: Twayne,

what the content—there would be questions about




Calder-Marshall, Arthur (R. D. Mascott,

Two novels helped establish Calder-Mar-

William Drummond) (1908–1992) novelist,

shall’s reputation as a fiction writer: The Fair

biographer, screenwriter

to Middling (1959), a mystery about disfigured

Arthur Calder-Marshall was born in Surrey,

orphans whose experiences at a traveling fair

England, to Arthur Grotjan and Alice Poole

teach them that they would have accomplished

Calder-Marshall. He attended Oxford, where he

far less in their lives had they been “normal”;

edited the undergraduate magazine OxFord Out-

and The Scarlet Boy (1961), another mystery with

look. Calder-Marshall’s first novel, Two of a Kind

a plot twist. Under the pen name R. D. Mascott,

(1933), describes the ordeal of a honeymooning

Calder-Marshall wrote 003½: The Adventures

couple after they are swept out to sea in a small

of James Bond Junior (1967), which critic Nick

boat. Critical acclaim came with his fifth novel,

Kincaid called “a beautiful novel, far better than

Pie in the Sky (1937), which explores the various

[James Bond series author] Fleming’s work, it

emotional and industrial conflicts of characters

was—and still is—an intelligently observed,

in a midlands mill town. As William Drummond,

highly literate (and literary) . . . novel.” Mascott’s

Calder-Marshall wrote several film novelizations,

description of Auntie Mo, one of the characters

such as Midnight Love (1960).

in 003½, demonstrates Calder-Marshall’s vividly

A move to Hollywood prompted Calder-

descriptive writing style: “Life had tautened her

Marshall to try his hand at writing screenplays,

like violin catgut till she twanged. She twanged

including the Academy Award–nominated docu-

at any and everything; a wasp (which she aston-

mentary The World Is Rich (1946). He concen-

ishingly swatted with the swinging head of the

trated on nonfiction after World War II, writing

chicken and flattened with her rubber-soled

several biographies. His biographical subjects

shoes), the sound of a shotgun (coming, James

ranged from author Jack London ( Lone Wolf: The

thought, from Undercote—somebody shooting

Story of Jack London, 1962) to filmmaker Robert

pigeons) and the telephone, which she leapt to

Flaherty ( The Innocent Eye: The Life of Robert J.

answer.” Critic John Betjeman wrote: “Arthur

Flaherty, 1963). His best-known nonfiction work

Calder-Marshall has always written lucidly

is No Earthly Command (1957), the story of an

and readably. However dated and unreadable

admiral who later became a priest.

some prose-writers may become who seem to


Cannan, May Wedderburn 89

us elegant or contemporary-tough today, he will

well-known anthology The Best American Short

remain fresh and clear.”


Callaghan has also written plays, autobiogra-

phies, memoirs, and young adult fiction. Despite

Callaghan, Morley Edward (1903–1990)

being labeled once the best “short story writer in

novelist, short story writer

the world” by the New York Times, Callaghan’s

Morley Callaghan was born in Toronto, Ontario,

works remain all but forgotten today. Some,

Canada, to middle-class parents of Irish descent,

including Callaghan himself, attribute this

Thomas and Mary Dewan Callaghan. He received

neglect to a falling-out he had with Heming-

his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1925

way after an ill-fated boxing match in the 1930s,

and his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School

whereas others have pointed to his relative seclu-

in 1928. Callaghan started his writing career as

sion in Canada, where he spent the majority of

a journalist for the Toronto Daily Star. At the

his writing career. Notwithstanding his relative

encouragement of Ernest Hemingway, whom he

obscurity, according to one reviewer, “Nowhere

met during his time at the Star, he soon turned his

is the extremity of the individual’s situation more

attention to writing short stories and novels.

evident than in Callaghan’s short stories, where

A Roman Catholic, Callaghan often used reli-

the conflict is internalized inside a single char-

gious subjects and biblical themes in his work while

acter, one who must often choose between per-

creating characters that champion the struggles

sonal relationships and his desire to be part of an

faced by the common man. His 1934 novel Such Is

impersonal society.”

My Beloved, which tells the story of a young priest

who eventually finds redemption in overcoming

Other Works by Morley Callaghan

the challenges of the priesthood and parish life, is

More Joy in Heaven. 1937. Reprint, Toronto: McClel-

widely considered Callaghan’s finest novel. Other

land and Stewart, 1996.

works, such as They Shall Inherit the Earth (1935),

White Narcissus. 1929. Reprint, Toronto: McClel-

reinterpret biblical stories, such as Cain and Abel,

land and Stewart. 1996.

using the Great Depression, for example, as a

backdrop to explore familial relationships. In

A Work about Morley Callaghan

examining Callaghan’s writing career, Edmund

Boire, Gary. Morley Cal aghan: Literary Anarchist.

Wilson commented in O Canada that he “is today

Toronto: ECW Press, 1994.

perhaps the most unjustly neglected novelist in

the English-speaking world.”

Callaghan’s reputation rests on his short sto-

Camberg, Muriel

ries, many of which first appeared in popular

See Spark, Muriel.

U.S. magazines such as the New Yorker and the

Atlantic Monthly. Four stories in his collection

Now That April’s Here and Other Stories (1936)

Cannan, May Wedderburn (1893–1973)

were the basis of the 1958 feature film titled after

poet, memoirist

the lead story. Both “Silk Stockings” and the

Born in Oxford, England, May Wedderburn

“Rocking Chair” deal with the theme of unre-

Cannan was the daughter of Charles Cannan, an

quited love. “A Sick Call” also involves human

illustrious professor who was dean of Oxford Uni-

relationships as its subject and deals explicitly

versity’s Trinity College and played a leading part

with the end-of-life decision by a man’s spouse

in directing the University Press. Cannan shared

to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism.

her father’s enthusiasm for literature, and in 1908

Callaghan’s stories have also appeared in the

she published her first poem in the Scotsman.

90 Carey, Peter

When Cannan was 18 she joined the VAD

Man in History (1974). The stories gained critical

(Voluntary Aid Detachment), where she trained

recognition for their surrealistic style and their

as a nurse, and for part of World War I she worked

adaptation of the traditional Australian tall tale.

as a nurse in France. The war was tragic for Can-

They also introduced the major themes of Carey’s

nan: her first fiancé was killed at the front, and

fiction: a fierce condemnation of capitalism and

later in the war her second fiancé died of illness

consumer exploitation, a fear of lingering colo-

while in the army.

nialism, and a criticism of the overly proud Aus-

Grief runs through Cannan’s poetry collection

tralian character.

In War Time (1917), a book of poems about the

Carey explores these themes in his first pub-

war. Her famous poem “Lamplight” addresses her

lished novel, Bliss (1981). The main character, an

dead love with quiet grief: “There’s a scarlet cross

advertising executive named Harry Joy, suffers a

on your breast, my dear / And a torn cross with

heart attack. Although he survives, he believes he

your name.” Her collection The Splendid Days

has died and has been condemned to Hell. Joy’s

(1919) gathers more verses on war bereavement.

surroundings seem hellish because a freakish can-

The poem “Paris, November 11, 1918” closes with

cer epidemic, caused by additives in an American

the lines: “But I saw Love go lonely down the

product advertised by Joy’s agency, has ravaged

years, / And when I drank, the wine was salt with

the community. To escape, Joy joins a commune.


Carey’s third novel, Oscar and Lucinda (1988),

Cannan wrote several memoirs, starting with

won the prestigious Booker Prize as did The True

The Lonely Generation (1934). Her autobiography

History of the Kel y Gang (2001). Set in the 19th

Grey Ghosts and Voices (1976), published posthu-

century, Oscar and Lucinda revolves around Oscar,

mously, is a poignant salutation to “my friends

an Anglican priest who immigrates to Australia to

who were dead and . . . my friends who, wounded,

suppress his gambling addiction, and Lucinda, an

imprisoned, battered, shaken, exhausted, were

heiress who is also a gambling addict. The novel

alive in a new, and a terrible world.”

was praised for its narrative technique. The first

of Carey’s two narrators, Oscar’s great-grandson,

Other Work by May Wedderburn Cannan

romantically describes Oscar and Lucinda’s rela-

The Tears of War: The Story of a Young Poet and a

tionship, which for him symbolizes the peaceful

War Hero. Edited by Charlotte Fyfe. Wiltshire,

Australian countryside. But Kumbaingiri-Billy,

England: Cavalier, 2000.

an aboriginal storyteller, undermines the myth of

the peaceful colonization of the country when he

describes the slaughter of an aboriginal tribe.

Carey, Peter (1943– ) novelist, short story

In addition to winning the Booker Prize twice,


Carey has twice won the National Book Coun-

Peter Carey was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria,

cil Award, and he has been elected to the Royal

Australia. After completing his secondary educa-

Society of Literature. The critic Graham Huggan

tion at Geelong Grammar School, he enrolled at

has written that Carey’s indictment of capitalism

Monash University in 1961 to study chemistry

defines his fiction: “[H]e displays the lethal attrac-

and zoology. Following a near-fatal car accident

tiveness of contemporary consumer culture: he is

in 1962, he left school and went to work in adver-

an assiduous collector and chronicler of its slick

tising, a field he remained in until 1988. In 1980

utopian myths.”

he formed his own agency.

In 1974 Carey’s fourth attempt at a novel was

Critical Analysis

accepted for publication, but he then withdrew

Carey’s Booker Prize–winning novel Oscar and

it in favor of a short story collection, The Fat

Lucinda is a tour de force that functions on many

Carey, Peter 91

levels. It is part Victorian novel, replete with a

liberating women by providing them with fac-

large cast of Dickensian characters, action, adven-

tory jobs. A glass factory in particular appeals to

ture, romance, and philosophical speculation. It

Lucinda because of her youthful experiences with

is also a postmodern critique of the imperialist

Prince Rupert’s drops, an accidental phenomenon

ambitions, piety, and narrow-mindedness of Vic-

that occurs when molten glass is dropped into

torian culture.

water and that eventually leads to the discovery

Oscar and Lucinda is narrated by an unnamed

of tempered glass. Prince Rupert’s drops are tear-

descendant of one of the title characters. In the

drop-shaped pieces of glass that can withstand

novel’s first paragraph, the narrator introduces

hammer blows to the rounded end without break-

his great-great-grandfather, the Reverend Oscar

ing. However, if the thin end of the drop is broken

Hopkins. He proceeds to tell the story of Oscar’s

off, the glass immediately shatters and turns to

meeting with Lucinda Leplastrier, their strange

dust. Just as gambling serves as a complex symbol

wager, and his ensuing adventure across the Aus-

in the novel, so does glass in its various forms: it

tralian outback.

is both solid and liquid, fragile and strong, clear

Oscar is the son of an English fundamental-

and prismatic.

ist minister who is also a talented biologist and

As he tells the story, the narrator foreshad-

illustrator. Father and son are very close, each

ows numerous events, but his foreshadowing is

loving the other with a passionate intensity.

often deliberately deceptive and deeply ironic.

Oscar, however, comes to doubt his father’s

On the one hand, he seems to hint at a typical

beliefs and creates for himself a game of chance

Victorian ending to his tale: the lovers overcome

that he believes reveals God’s wishes. God, Oscar

all obstacles, marry, and produce large quantities

feels, commands him to leave his father’s home

of offspring, himself among them. On second

and convert to the Anglican faith. While study-

reading, however, it becomes clear that such an

ing for the ministry at Oxford, Oscar supports

ending is impossible. The series of events that

himself by betting on horse races. His view of

end the novel, the expedition to transport a

gambling is that God decides the outcome of

glass church across New South Wales, embodies

every wager and thus speaks through games of

Carey’s pointed critique of the entire colonizing

chance. Oscar later tells Lucinda, who is herself

enterprise, the destruction of aboriginal religion

something of a compulsive gambler, that faith

and culture and the attempt to plant on Austra-

itself is a wager, a bet that God exists. He adds, “I

lian soil a way of life entirely unsuited to it. Carey

cannot see that such a God, whose fundamental

drives home this point to Oscar and the reader

requirement of us is that we gamble our mortal

near the end of the novel as Oscar sits in the glass

souls every second of our temporal existence, . . .

church, imprisoned there with a number of “large

can look unkindly on a chap wagering a few quid

and frightening insects,” including three blue-

on the likelihood of a dumb animal crossing a

bellied dragonflies. “For one hundred thousand

line first.” Of course, Oscar is rather disingenu-

years,” the narrator says,

ous in his explanation, and what follows is an

elaborate seduction played between Oscar and

their progenitors had inhabited that valley

Lucinda as a card game.

without once encountering glass. Suddenly

While Oscar is obsessed with religion,

the air was hard where it should be soft . . .

Lucinda, raised by a feminist mother, is obsessed

They flew against the glass in panic. They had

with glass. When her parents die, their Austra-

the wrong intelligence to grasp the nature

lian farm is sold and Lucinda becomes quite rich

of glass. They bashed against “nothing” as

at a very young age. She travels to Sydney and

if they were created only to demonstrate to

purchases a glass factory with the expectation of

Oscar Hopkins the limitations of his own

92 Carson, Ciaran

understanding, his ignorance of God, and

English as a second language. He attended St.

that the walls of hell might be made of some-

Mary’s Christian Brothers’ School before going

thing like this, unimaginable, contradictory,

to Queen’s University, Belfast, from which he


graduated in 1971. Around this time, he joined a

group of young Belfast writers who met under the

From the start, the narrator hints that his goal is

guidance of Seamus Heaney, whose work had

to deconstruct the versions of history that he has

a significant influence on Carson’s early poems.

heard all his life—from his mother’s story of fam-

Carson briefly taught in Belfast before joining

ily beginnings to the Australian idea of Manifest

the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He worked

Destiny. He says in the first chapter

there until 1998, when he returned to his alma

mater as a professor and director of the Seamus

I learned long ago to distrust local history.

Heaney Centre for Poetry, which he founded.

Darkwood, for instance, they will tell you at

Carson has published nine poetry collections,

the Historical Society, is called Darkwood

including The Irish for No (1987), Belfast Confetti

because of the darkness of the foliage, but it

(1989), and Breaking News (2003), which was

was not so long ago you could hear people call

awarded a £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Poetry

it Darkies’ point, and not so long before that

Collection. An accomplished musician, he is also

when Horace Clarke’s grandfather went up

the author of Last Night’s Fun (1996), a book about

there with his mates . . . and pushed an entire

traditional Irish music. Among his three other

tribe of aboriginal men and women and chil-

prose works are The Star Factory (1997), a mem-

dren off the edge.

oir of his childhood, and Shamrock Tea (2001), a

novel about a boy who sets out to find the magi-

Oscar and Lucinda is, as the critic for the

cal brew that his uncle believes can bring peace

Washington Post Book World put it, “a kind of

to Ireland. Carson’s translation of Dante’s Inferno

rollercoaster ride” from which the reader emerges

(2002) was praised for rendering the original Ital-

“gasping, blinking, reshaped in a hundred ways,

ian into modern Irish-English. In The Alexandrine

conscious that the world is never going to look the

Plan (1998), he translated sonnets of the French

same again.”

poets Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and

Stéphane Mallarmé.

Other Works by Peter Carey

Growing up in a bilingual household amid

Il ywhacker. New York: Harper, 1985.

the political violence that gripped Belfast had a

Jack Maggs. New York: Knopf, 1998.

profound impact on Carson’s development as

The Tax Inspector. New York: Knopf, 1992.

a writer. “I write in English,” he has noted, “but

the ghost of Irish hovers behind it; and English

Works about Peter Carey

itself is full of ghostly presences.” In both his

Huggan, Graham. Peter Carey. New York: Oxford

richly textured poetry and prose, he often uses wit

University Press, 1996.

and irony to express his love for Belfast despite

Woodcock, Bruce. Peter Carey. Manchester, En-

its history of turmoil. As a storyteller he is fond

gland: Manchester University Press, 1996.

of weaving tall tales and spinning out lists. His

distinctive voice is evident in “Second Language,”

a poem about how Belfast stimulated his enthusi-

Carson, Ciaran (1948– ) poet, memoirist,

asm for language: “Leviathans of rope snarled out

novelist, translator

from ropeworks: disgorged hawsers, unkinkable

Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast, Northern Ire-

lay, / Ratlines, S-twists, plaited halyards, Z-twists,

land, into a Gaelic-speaking family and learned

catlines; all had their say.” As the American poet

Carter, Angela 93

Ben Howard observes, Carson “has a keen ear . . .

in the way in which men as well as women may

for the sounds the world is making.”

be negatively affected by patriarchy and seek to

resist it.” In Heroes and Vil ains (1969), set in a

Another Work by Ciaran Carson

post-nuclear-holocaust world where the Profes-

Selected Poems. Winston Salem, N.C.: Wake Forest

sors and the Barbarians vie for control, Marianne,

University Press, 2001.

a Professor’s daughter, becomes ruler of the Bar-

barians by adopting the best traits of both groups

A Work about Ciaran Carson

into her personality.

Houen, Alex. Terrorism and Modern Literature:

In 1970 Carter separated from her husband

From Joseph Conrad to Ciaran Carson. Oxford:

and moved to Japan, where she wrote essays for

Oxford University Press, 2002.

New Society, a current affairs and culture weekly.

She lived in Japan for two years but continued

writing for New Society for 20 years. In 1972 she

Carter, Angela (Angela Olive Stalker

moved back to England and served as Arts Coun-

Carter) (1940–1992) novelist, short story

cil Fellow at Sheffield University and as a visiting

writer, essayist, screenwriter

professor of creative writing at Brown University

Angela Carter was born in 1940 in Eastbourne,

in the United States.

Sussex, England. During World War II she lived

Carter’s experiences in Japan had a profound

with her grandmother in South Yorkshire near

effect on her writing. She said she “learnt what it

a coalfield, a place her grandmother was certain

is to be a woman and became radicalized.” In The

the Germans would never bomb. Her first job was

Passion of New Eve (1977), which Carter called “a

writing features and music reviews for the Croy-

feminist tract about the social creation of femi-

don Advertiser. She married when she was 20 and

ninity,” Evelyn, a young Englishman, is captured

studied English at the University of Bristol.

by a feminist group and surgically turned into a

Carter’s works embrace a feminist point of view

woman: “Now first of beings in the world, you

and range from the realistic to the fantastic and

can seed yourself . . . that is why you have become

erotic. Her writing incorporates magic realism—

New Eve.” In 1979 Carter published The Sadeian

literature that uses elements of dreams, magic,

Woman, in which, to the dismay of many femi-

fantasy, and fairy tales to manipulate or intrude

nists, she advanced the seemingly outrageous

on otherwise realistic settings and characters.

idea that the wicked and deviant Marquis de Sade

Carter’s first novel, Shadow Dance, was pub-

was a man ahead of his time who actually liber-

lished in 1966. It introduces readers to Carter’s

ated woman sexually.

exploration of female subservience in a patri-

Some critics and authors, including the novel-

archal society and the need for both men and

ist Salman Rushdie, consider The Bloody Cham-

women to free themselves from the destructive

ber (1979), a feminist retelling of classic fairy tales,

aspects of such a society. Toward the end of the

to be Carter’s masterwork. As Rushdie explains,

novel, Carter describes Emily and Morris, two

“She opens an old story for us, like an egg, and

characters on the verge of escape: “She walked as

finds the new story, the now-story we want to hear

if she had a destination ahead of her of which she

within.” Carter also translated the French fairy

was quite sure . . . Morris felt less shadow-like the

tales of Charles Perrault, and she wrote a blood-

more they went on together.”

thirsty screenplay for The Company of Wolves

The Magic Toyshop (1967), a modern horror

(1984), a film retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

myth, reveals Carter’s fascination with Freud-

The critic Marina Warner has noted that Cart-

ian thought and fairy tales. As the critic Aidan

er’s “imagination was one of the most dazzling

Day noted, it shows “Carter’s persistent interest

this century, and through her daring, vertiginous

94 Carter, Angela

plots, her precise, yet wild imagery, her gallery

characters, Carter garnered considerable praise

of wonderful bad-good girls, beasts, rogues, and

for her powerful imagination. Her 1984 novel

other creatures, she causes readers to hold their

Nights at the Circus exemplifies many of the most

breaths as a mood of heroic optimism forms

highly praised qualities of her writing. Its pro-

against the odds.” Nights at the Circus (1984)

tagonist, a girl named Fevvers who was raised in

illustrates Warner’s comment. Carter herself

a brothel at the end of the 19th century, sprouts

described this work as a comic novel. The main

wings and begins a spectacular career as a circus

character, Sophie Fevvers, is a circus aerialist who

performer. This transformation, symbolizing

has grown wings and is a prototype for the 20th-

the new possibilities offered to women by social

century woman freeing herself from a patriarchal

changes in the 20th century, combined Carter’s


feminist concerns with her idiosyncratic gift for

Carter earned numerous literary awards for

arresting, sensuous imagery.

her work, including the John Llewellyn Rhys

The novel also exemplifies today’s critical eval-

Prize (1967), the Somerset Maugham Award

uation of her work, which is seen as somewhat

(1968), and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize

uneven: Critics have complained that the book

(1984). She wrote until her death from cancer in

continues to add miracle to miracle until the fun-

1992. Commenting on her continuing popularity,

damental wonder of each is drowned in a sea of

Rushdie has said, “She has become the contem-

marvels. Her mannered style also led her to what

porary writer most studied at British universi-

some see as descriptive excess at the expense of

ties—a victory over the mainstream she would

plot. Nevertheless, it was this very style that set

have enjoyed.”

Carter apart from the majority of British writ-

ers of her generation and virtually placed her in

Critical Analysis

a league of her own among writers in English of

Angela Carter’s work is enduringly popular

any era.

among scholars and the public alike, though her

reputation has waned somewhat since its high

Other Works by Angela Carter

point in the mid-1990s, when she was the most

Expletives Deleted. London: Vintage, 1993.

popular writer studied in British college courses.

Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces. New York: Viking

At that time, in one year, proposals for doctoral

Penguin, 1987.

dissertations on her work were more numerous

The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman. New

than for all 18th-century literature. She essentially

York: Viking Penguin, 1982.

straddled two kinds of literature, the fantastic and

Love. New York: Penguin, 1988.

the gothic, in a way that placed her squarely in the

Shaking a Leg: Col ected Writings. Edited by Jenny

front rank of Britain’s postmodern writers.

Uglow. New York: Penguin, 1998.

In fact, Carter’s work is often described as mag-

ical realism, because she upends many received

Works about Angela Carter

notions of reality through elaborate allegory,

Day, Aidan. Angela Carter: The Rational Glass. New

eroticized fables, surreal settings, and grotesque

York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

characters whose identities are in constant flux.

Michael, Magali Cornier. “Angela Carter’s Nights at

Sexual themes and feminist attitudes dominate

the Circus: An Engaged Feminism via Subversive

her work, and she often borrows from genres

Postmodern Strategies.” Contemporary Litera-

outside the literary mainstream, such as science

ture (1995): 492–521.

fiction and fantasy.

Roemer, Danielle M., and Cristina Bacchilega, eds.

Although her early novels were criticized for

Angela Carter and the Fairy Tale. Detroit: Wayne

the extravagant despair that filled the lives of her

State University Press, 2001.

Cary, Joyce 95

Tucker, Lindsey, ed. Critical Essays on Angela Carter.

of the novel, when Jimson is putting the finish-

New York: Macmillan, 1998.

ing touches on a great mural painting even as his

assistant and the authorities argue over whether

the building on whose wall he is working has

Cary, Joyce (1888–1957) novelist

been condemned, gives an idea of the energy and

Joyce Cary was born in Londonderry, Northern

humor in Jimson’s voice:

Ireland. His father was a civil engineer descended

from a once-prominent Anglo-Irish family whose

“It’s no good getting irritated against the

fortunes had greatly declined by the time of Cary’s

bureaucracy,” I said. . . . I told them, or per-

birth. After studying in Edinburgh and Paris,

haps I only thought I told them, because I was

Cary received a law degree from Oxford Univer-

thinking, what it wants in the top left corner is

sity. In 1912 he joined the British Red Cross and

a lively passage in a strong green. Say a field of

served as an orderly in the Balkan Wars. He then

cabbage. Yes, curly kale. After all, curly kale,

joined the British colonial service in Nigeria, stay-

as a work of the imagination, beats Shake-

ing there until 1920, at which time he resigned his

speare. The green, the tender, the humorous

post and returned to England. It was then that he

imagination. When the old ’un dreamt curly

began to write his novels.

kale, he smiled in his beard.

Cary’s first four books are set in West Africa

and deal with the dramatic, and sometimes tragic,

Writing in the magazine Saturday Night, the nov-

results of the confrontation between traditional

elist Robertson Davies said of the three novels

African life and the British colonial administra-

that “they provide me with the inexhaustible

tion. The last of the four books, Mister Johnson

Gully—the only fully articulate painter I have

(1939), is an especially powerful story of a native

ever met in fiction.”

clerk torn between loyalties to the place that he

Cary’s next trilogy takes place in the world

comes from and the world in which he is trying

of politics. Prisoner of Grace (1952), Except the

to make his way.

Lord (1953), and Not Honour More (1955) focus

During the 1940s Cary produced his most

on characters whose shifting loyalties and abil-

popular and important work, a trilogy of novels

ity to deceive have deadly emotional and physical

whose setting is the world of art. Herself Surprised

results. The novels tell the story of Nimmo, a clerk

(1941), To Be a Pilgrim (1942), and The Horse’s

with ambitions beyond his capabilities, who mar-

Mouth (1944) are all told in the first person by

ries Nina, his social superior, who has not given

characters who also appear in the other novels.

up her love for Jim Latter, who is still pursuing

The first book is narrated by Sara, who pretends

Nina. Matters come to a head and are resolved in

to be an innocent housewife but is in fact a social-

a killing.

climbing thief. The second is told by Wilcher, a

Cary won critical praise for his ability to pres-

member of the landed gentry who pretends to be

ent characters that are both true to and larger

eccentric but turns out to be malevolent and cor-

than life in stories that combine comedy and trag-

rupt. The two novels involve the exploits of the

edy. Cary remarked of his creative process, “The

narrator of the third, Gully Jimson, who is with-

center of the plan was character—the books had

out pretense. Gully is described at various points

to be soaked in it. In such a dilemma, whether to

in the trilogy as a “scoundrel,” as being “not quite

stick to my scheme, or stick to my character, the

right in the head,” and as “a painter of genius.”

character felt and known in the book, I stuck to

This last description concurs with Jimson’s own,

my rule, which was character first.”

even though each painting he sells he describes

Cary had planned a third trilogy that was to

as “rubbish.” This passage from the final scene

deal with religion, but he died before completing

96 Cary, Joyce

the first book. Critic Kingsley Hart remarks in

amuse yourself, put a stick of dynamite in the

his introduction to The Horse’s Mouth that the

kitchen fire, or shoot a policeman. Volunteer

instinct of religious belief plays as great a role

for a test pilot, or dive off Tower Bridge with

in all Cary’s later books as the instinct to create.

five bob’s worth of roman candles in each

Hart maintains that with his focus on inspired

pocket. You’d get twice the fun at about one-

rebels, Cary carries on the Nonconformist

tenth of the risk.

(English, non-Anglican Protestant) tradition of

English fiction, following such writers as George

Despite his obsession, Jimson is a wonderfully

Eliot and D. H. Lawrence.

comic character as he flouts conventional expec-

Biographer Kinley Roby sums up Cary’s

tations and pursues his art, which in his old age

achievement thus: “His novels are brimming with

grows to epic proportions as his paintings burst

life, the lines dance with energy, and his char-

the bounds of canvas and require entire walls to

acters have sufficient force to march, frequently,

contain their subjects.

straight off the page into our memories. . . . Cary

Gully’s language and his way of seeing strike

was a great writer and a great visionary.”

one as exactly how a painter would perceive the

world. He is a lover of the poet and illustrator

Critical Analysis

William Blake, whose work he quotes and whose

The third novel in Cary’s first trilogy, The Horse’s

passionate and visionary views he shares. Jimson

Mouth, is by any measure a brilliant achievement.

speaks in staccatto sentences, in colors, images,

It is one of the great comic novels of all time,

and shapes, almost in brushstrokes. The novel’s

replete with a love of life and antic wisdom that

opening lines set the tone: “Half-past morning on

few writers have been able to achieve. Moreover,

an autumn day. Sun in a mist. Like an orange in a

The Horse’s Mouth is, many believe, the greatest

fried fish shop. All bright below. Low tide, dusty

novel ever written about a painter.

water, and a crooked bar of straw, chicken-boxes,

The character of Gully Jimson is Shakespear-

dirt and oil from mud to mud. Like a viper swim-

ian in scope and depth. For Gully, painting is not

ming in skim milk. The old serpent, symbol of

something he wants to do or chooses to do, it is

nature and love.”

something he must do, by his nature, like breath-

When Jimson describes the act of painting, it

ing. He had seen his father’s life made miserable

strikes one as exactly how it must be to paint, a

by art and resolved not to follow in his father’s

constant process of visual, visceral discovery: “I

footsteps, but he cannot resist. Jimson’s art places

made a big thing like a white Indian club. I like

him outside the bounds of normal society. He

it, I said, but it’s not a flower, is it? What the hell

cannot live conventionally because art takes

could it be? A fish. And I felt a kick inside as if I

priority over everything else. He cannot do con-

was having a foal. Fish. Fish. Silver-white, green-

ventional work because he must paint; he cannot

white. And shapes that you could stroke with

maintain normal family relationships because he

your eyebrows.”

must paint; he steals oils and brushes because he

Only at the end of the novel does the reader

must paint. When a young fan, Nosy Barbon, tells

learn that Jimson is dictating his autobiography

Jimson he wants to be an artist, Jimson tells him

as he lies paralyzed by a stroke. When he can no

to “go home and sweat it out.” Nosy replies that

longer paint with oils, he paints with words. Art

“there must be artists,” and Jimson says

and imagination conquer all. As his story ends,

Jimson tells the nun attending him, “I should

Yes, and lunatics and lepers, but why go and

laugh all round my neck at this minute if my shirt

live in an asylum before you’re sent for? If

wasn’t a bit on the tight side.” She urges him to pray

you find life a bit dull at home . . . and want to

instead, and he replies “Same thing mother.”

Caute, John David 97

A Work about Joyce Cary

parents’ love is restored, and he describes how he

Roby, Kinley E. Joyce Cary. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

uses the breath they gave him: “I warm the cold

words with my day: / Will the dead weight to fly. To

fly.” Critic Edward Levy writes of this poem, “It is

Causley, Charles (1917–2003) poet

the poet’s breath which can, by naming and defin-

Charles Causley was born in Launceston, Corn-

ing, bring both dead and living to life, reminding

wall, England, to Charles Samuel and Laura Jane

the living of the dead and healing the deadness

Bartlett Causley. His Canadian-born father was

in them.” In a tribute to the poet when he turned

permanently disabled by a German gas attack

70, critic Barry Newport wrote that Causley pro-

in World War I and died in 1924. Causley was

duced “a body of poetry that, with craftsmanship,

educated at Horwell Grammar School and Laun-

compassion and honesty continues to reflect the

ceston College. After service in the Royal Navy

necessary condition of all human existence.”

during World War II, he returned to Launceston

to teach school.

Another Work by Charles Causley

Causley turned to poetry during World War II to

As I Went Down Zig Zag. New York: Warner, 1974.

deal with the horrors of that conflict. His col ection

Farewel , Angie Weston (1951) recreates the sailor’s

A Work about Charles Causley

life during the war. Many poems in the volume

Chambers, Barry, ed. Causley at 70. Calstock, En-

are written in rhyme and meter such as “Nursery

gland: Peterloo Poets, 1987.

Rhyme of Innocence and Experience,” which con-

tains the lines “O where is that sailor / With bold red

hair? / And what is that vol ey / On the bright air?”

Caute, John David (John Salisbury)

Causley’s second collection, Survivor’s Leave (1953),

(1936– ) novelist, playwright, historian

also covers the harsh reality of war. Written in the

David Caute was born to Edward and Rebecca

traditional bal ad form for which the poet is best

Caute in Alexandria, Egypt, where his father was

known, the poems, such as the famous “On Seeing a

serving as a colonel in the British army dental

Poet of the First World War at the Station of Abbev-

corps. Caute received a B.A. in history and, with

il e,” reflect the influence of W. H. Auden in their

a thesis on communism among French intellectu-

use of bold metaphors and archetypal figures.

als, earned a Ph.D. from Oxford.

Causley’s later poetry stemmed from his expe-

Caute’s thesis led him into a historical work

rience as a teacher. Among these works are several

that established his reputation as a scholar of his-

highly regarded volumes for children, including

tory, Communism and the French Intel ectuals,

Figgie Hobbin (1970). Writing from a child’s per-

1914–1960 (1966). Beginning with the engaging

spective, Causley deals with serious themes, as in

and metaphorical first line, “The international

the poem “Who,” which expresses a vision of lost

Marxist movement was originally fathered and

childhood: “Who is that child I see wandering,

mothered by intellectuals,” the book displays

wandering / Down by the side of the quivering

Caute’s unique ability to explain why commu-


nism appealed to its supporters.

Causley addresses similar themes of self-defi-

Before Caute went to university, he served 18

nition in his adult work Col ected Poems (1975).

months on the African Gold Coast as a soldier

In the poem “Wedding Portrait” he sees his past

in the British army. His most acclaimed novel,

and present in his parents’ wedding picture. The

At Fever Pitch (1959), is set in that region. In this

poem contrasts the love his parents had on their

novel, which was awarded the London Authors

wedding day with the later horrors they faced and

Club Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Memo-

their eventual deaths. At the end of the poem his

rial Prize, Caute explores the issues of Western

98 Cayer, D. M.

colonialism, socialism, communism, and sexu-

Chambers, Aidan (1934– ) children’s and

ality. Laced with sexuality and gruesome vio-

young adult author, playwright, editor

lence, At Fever Pitch combines the coming of age

Aidan Chambers was born on December 27, 1934,

story of the novel’s central character, Michael

in Chester-le-Street, just north of Durham. His

Glyn, and the story of a British colony’s fight for

parents were George Kenneth Blacklin, a funeral


director, and Margaret Blacklin (née Chambers).

The issues that Caute confronts in At Fever

His working-class family did not place much

Pitch also appear in his play Songs for an Autumn

importance on literature, but Chambers discov-

Rifle (1960). Set in Hungary during the Russian

ered a passion for books at grammar school. After

invasion of 1956, the drama explains how British

reading D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, which

socialists who supported the Soviet Union faced

depicted families of mine workers much like the

a political dilemma when the country invaded

people Chambers had grown up with, he knew

Hungary. With his play The Demonstration (1970)

that he wanted to become a writer.

Caute addresses student revolution: A class of

He served in the navy from 1953 to 1955,

drama students refuses to perform a play assigned

then attended Borough Road College in London,

by the professor and replaces it with one of their

becoming a teacher of literature and drama in

own making, which accuses the university of

1957. In 1960 he converted to Anglicanism and

repressive authoritarianism.

joined a new monastery in Stroud, Gloucester-

Caute has published more than 30 novels, plays,

shire. He continued to teach literature and drama

and pieces of academic writing. He acknowl-

at Archway Secondary Modern School, writing

edges Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre, and the Ger-

what would become his first published works for

man dramatist Bertolt Brecht as inspirations.

his pupils, the plays Johnny Salter (1966) and The

Although some readers dislike the historical and

Chicken Run (1968). A rising reputation as an

political dimension of Caute’s work, the scholar

educator and the realization that he was not a true

Gerald Steele has written that Caute “is one of the

believer caused Chambers to leave the monastery

most intellectually stimulating novelists of recent

in 1967. He retired from teaching the following

decades in England.”

year and devoted himself to full-time writing.

He wrote a series of six young adult novels, set

Other Works by David Caute

in and around the locations in which he grew up

Fatima’s Scarf. Toronto: Hushion House, 2000.

and worked: Breaktime (1978); Dance on my Grave

News from Nowhere. London: Hamilton, 1986.

(1982); Now I Know (1987); The Toll Bridge (1992);

The Women’s Hour. London: Paladin, 1991.

Postcards from No Man’s Land (1999), for which

he won the Carnegie Medal; and This Is Al : The

A Work about David Caute

Pil ow Book of Cordelia Kenn (2005). These novels

Tredell, Nicholas. Caute’s Confrontations: A Study

feature young protagonists who undergo journeys

of the Novels of David Caute. Nottingham, En-

of self-discovery, told through multiple narra-

gland: Pauper’s Press, 1994.

tive techniques that include diaries, letters, and

stream-of-consciousness narration. Because of

their sophisticated style, they are considered chal-

Cayer, D. M.

lenging and rich works of young adult fiction.

See Duffy, Maureen.

In addition to writing fiction, Chambers has

also lectured and written extensively on education,

children’s literature, and libraries. His nonfiction

Challans, Eileen Mary

books, including The Reluctant Reader (1969),

See Renault, Mary.

Introducing Books to Children (1973), Booktalk:

Chaplin, Sidney 99

Occasional Writing on Children and Literature

short stories, The Leaping Land (1946), describes

(1986), and Reading Talk (2001), have marked him

the trials of life for mining families in northern

as a leading critic of children’s literature.

England. His subsequent volumes received criti-

Along with his wife, Nancy, Chambers estab-

cal praise for their realistic portrayal of British

lished and runs Thimble Press and Signal maga-

mining families and the hardships and dilemmas

zine, which publish and promote children’s and

they face. In the title story of A Thin Seam and

young adult literature. They were jointly awarded

Other Stories (1968), a miner’s son is torn between

the 1982 Eleanor Farjeon Award for their con-

taking an opportunity to attend college to per-

tributions to children’s literature. Chambers

haps find a better life or returning to his village to

was awarded the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen

work in the pit: “I saw that the primrose path was

Award for his body of work.

open to me and that not a soul would ever con-

demn me for taking it, just the same I knew that

Other Works by Aidan Chambers

all the time I would be supported on the bowed

Aidan Chambers’ Book of Ghosts and Hauntings.

sweated shoulders of my father and brothers and

Harmondsworth, England: Kestrel Books, 1980.

others like them.” When reviewing The Bachelor

Haunted Houses. London: Severn House, 1979.

Uncle (1978), a collection of stories told from the

A Quiver of Ghosts. London: Bodley Head, 1987.

viewpoint of a boy whose father was killed in the

Seal Secret. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.

mines, critic John Mellors wrote, “As one might

expect from an ex-collier, the background of the

Works about Aidan Chambers

Durham mining village rings utterly authentic.”

Chambers, Aidan. Author’s Web site. Available

Chaplin’s novels were also noted for their

online. URL:

descriptions of British working-class culture.

bio.htm. Accessed December 7, 2007.

In his best-known novel, The Day of the Sardine

Greenway, Betty. Aidan Chambers: Master Literary

(1961), he describes a miner’s cynicism about seek-

Choreographer. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press,

ing to attain a more affluent way of life. In a depar-


ture from Chaplin’s usual topics, the novel Sam

in the Morning (1965) describes the personal and

professional trials of a corporate executive who is

Chaplin, Sidney (1916–1986) novelist, short

fascinated with the monolithic building that he

story writer

works in. In The Mines of Alabaster (1971), a strug-

Sid Chaplin was born in Shildon in Durham

gling actor wrestles with issues from his past while

County, England. His father, Isaiah Chaplin, an

pursuing a coal miner’s daughter to Italy.

electrician, and his mother, Elsie Charlton, both

In addition to his fiction, Chaplin also wrote

came from mining families. Chaplin attended six

for the National Coal Board, Coal Magazine, and

elementary schools as his family moved to differ-

Coal News, and he was an occasional contribu-

ent mining villages. He entered the family profes-

tor to the Guardian newspaper. Critic Michael

sion in 1931 but found time to attend the Workers’

Standen, when comparing him to other British

Educational Association classes of the University

writers who have depicted coal miners, such as

of Durham. Chaplin was employed at the Dean

D. H. Lawrence, wrote that Chaplin “with actual

and Chapter Colliery until 1950, when he became

underground experience deals with the hid-

a public relations officer for the National Coal

den fractures of English life more directly, more



Throughout his career, Chaplin drew upon

personal experience and his inherited min-

Other Work by Sidney Chaplin

ing tradition for his fiction. His first volume of

My Fate Cries Out. New York: Dent, 1949.

100 Chatwin, Bruce

Chatwin, Bruce (1940–1989) travel writer,

His trip produced the travelogue In Patagonia

novelist, journalist

(1977), an unusual blend of personal anecdotes,

Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield, England,

autobiography, imaginative reverie, and travel

during World War II, the eldest son of his family.

book. He had a genius for combining random

His father was a lawyer who spent the war in the

details in illogical but amusing ways. For exam-

navy. Chatwin described his wartime childhood

ple, he describes watching a teacher draw a bleak

as nomadic: “My father was at sea, my mother

map of cold war Europe on the blackboard: “We

and I wandering from place to place, travelling

saw the zones bump one another leaving no space

up and down wartime England to stay with

in between. The instructor wore khaki shorts. His

relations and friends. Our temporary stopping-

knees were white and knobbly, and we saw that it

places are less clear than the journeys between

was hopeless.”


Chatwin has been criticized for mixing truth

Chatwin said later that his ancestors were

with fiction in his anecdotes, but In Patagonia

either “solid and sedentary citizens . . . or horizon-

was nonetheless critically acclaimed. The Guard-

struck wanderers who had scattered their bones

ian called it “the book that redefined travel writ-

in every corner of the earth.” His own wanderlust

ing.” It won the Hawthornden prize and the E. M.

was allegedly first piqued when he was nine years

Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts

old, and a favorite uncle was murdered while trav-

and Letters.

eling in West Africa. Chatwin became fascinated

Chatwin’s novel On the Black Hil (1982) is set

by the continent after this and researched all he

closer to home, in the wild Welsh hills he visited

could. In this way he learned about Victorian

as a child. Chatwin said later, “It always irritated

explorers like Richard Burton, who would later

me to be called a travel writer. So I decided to

inspire him in his own travels. Chatwin was edu-

write something about people who never went

cated at private boarding school. Never a fan of

out.” The novel describes the lives of twin broth-

literary classics, he once declared hyperbolically

ers who live for 80 years on an isolated farm in

that he had never read anything except art books

Wales, far from the changing civilization of the

and encyclopedias until he was 20. But Chatwin

20th century. It won the Whitbread Award and

did enjoy reading children’s books about true-life

became a film in 1988.

adventures and travel. He recalled, “I never liked

One of Chatwin’s most famous books is The

Jules Verne, believing that the real was always

Songlines (1987). On the surface this work is a

more fantastic than the fantastical.”

study of the Australian aborigines’ “Dreaming-

In 1958 Chatwin joined the prestigious Lon-

tracks,” songs and stories that cover Australia in

don auction firm Sotheby’s. He worked his way

an invisible sacred web. The book also explores

up to director of the firm’s impressionist art sec-

Chatwin’s own attachment to a nomadic life.

tion, where he was especially talented at writing

The author has been criticized for spending little

descriptions of art objects. The reviewer Jay Currie

time asking aborigines what the Dreaming actu-

notes that Chatwin “etched the bones of his writ-

ally meant to them, but the book is nonetheless

ing style describing the loot of empire.” Chatwin

acclaimed for its haunting depiction of the Aus-

left Sotheby’s in 1966 to study for an archaeology

tralian wilds.

degree at the University of Edinburgh, but he left

Newsday said of Chatwin, “No ordinary book

his studies after two years. He then worked for the

ever issues from Bruce Chatwin. Each bears the

London Sunday Times for five years as a traveling

imprint of a dazzlingly original mind.” As his


biographer Susannah Clapp wrote, “He was

In 1976 Chatwin abandoned his newspaper job

famous for being a vivid presence.” He was greatly

to travel to Patagonia in southern South America.

mourned after his early death from AIDS.

Chesterton, G. K. 101

Other Works by Bruce Chatwin

ation. The unassuming priest, whom Chester-

Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings, 1969–

ton described as “shabby and shapeless, his face

1989. Edited by Jan Borm and Michael Graves.

round and expressionless, his manners clumsy,”

New York: Viking, 1996.

solves crimes by putting himself into the mind of

Far Journeys: Photographs and Notebooks. Edited by

the criminal. A founding member of the Detec-

David King and Francis Wyndham. New York:

tion Club, an organization of professional mys-

Viking, 1993.

tery writers, Chesterton shaped the conventions

Utz. New York: Viking, 1989.

of the classic mystery: “to play fair with the pre-

What Am I Doing Here? New York: Viking, 1989.

sentation of clues, to battle wits with the reader, to

conceal the identity of the criminal until the cli-

Works about Bruce Chatwin

mactic moment . . ., to construct bizarre puzzles

Clapp, Susannah. With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writ-

with purely rational solutions, and to encapsulate

er. New York: Knopf, 1997.

everything into a concentrated, short-story form,”

Shakespeare, Nicholas. Bruce Chatwin. New York:

notes the scholar John C. Tibbetts.

Doubleday, 2000.

Among Chesterton’s other works, which include

poems and plays, his novel The Man Who Was

Thursday (1908) and his biographies have received

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

the most critical praise. Critic Patrick Braybrooke

(1874–1936) novelist, nonfiction writer, poet,

thinks Charles Dickens (1903) was “its author’s


best book.” Editor A. C. Ward admires his Robert

Born in London, G. K. Chesterton was the son of

Browning (1903) but complains that in Francis of

Edward Chesterton, a realtor, and Marie Gros-

Assisi (1923) Chesterton’s focus shifted from his

jean Chesterton. As a schoolboy he spent time

subject to word play and “verbal trickery.”

dreaming, drawing cartoons, and making the

Not all of Chesterton’s works will endure. How-

acquaintance of “odd and scrappy sorts of people

ever, Tibbetts notes that Chesterton’s “love of para-

like myself.” After studying art and literature at

dox and whimsy, his flashing wit and indomitable

University College, London, he began writing

optimism, and his impassioned defense of spiritual

reviews for the Bookman. Described by George

values place him among the most beloved, oft-

Bernard Shaw as “a man of colossal genius,” the

quoted literary figures of the twentieth century.”

eccentric, 300-pound Chesterton was a literary

legend renowned for his witty essays on religion,

Critical Analysis

politics, and contemporary issues.

With more than 100 full-length books, G. K.

Orthodoxy (1908), which Chesterton described

Chesterton was a leading man of letters of the

as “a sort of slovenly autobiography,” traces his

early 20th century. Although he also published

journey from agnosticism to faith in Christianity.

volumes of poetry, social criticism, essays, and

In 1922 he became a Roman Catholic. Works like

religious thought, he is perhaps best remembered

The Everlasting Man (1925) and other eloquent

for his fiction. In all of his stories, he is primarily

defenses of Christianity earned Chesterton the

a writer of ideas.

title of the father of modern popular spiritual

In his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting

writing. His conservative religious beliefs also

Hil , Chesterton displayed many of the charac-

influenced his works on economics and politics,

teristics on which his reputation in fiction would

in which he advocated widespread ownership of

eventually be based. Essentially a fantasy set in a


futuristic London, which has split into contend-

Today Chesterton’s fictional detective Father

ing city-states, the novel focuses on arguments

Brown is considered his most enduring cre-

between King Auberon and Adam Wayne, the

102 Christie, Agatha

provost of the city-state of Notting Hill. The king

by her mother, Clarissa Boehmer Miller, after the

is whimsical while Wayne is deadly serious, and

death of her American father, Frederick Alvah

their perspectives are often united in moments of

Miller. She studied music in Paris but did not

humor or striking paradox.

have a strong enough voice for an opera career.

The idea of paradox is central to much of

In 1914 she married Colonel Archibald Christie,

Chesterton’s writing, as is the notion that small

a fighter pilot. During World War I Christie’s

is beautiful. Like the 19th-century writer John

work as a volunteer nurse and pharmacist famil-

Ruskin, he often expressed his distaste for the

iarized her with poisons, a knowledge she would

modern world, urging a return to a simpler soci-

use in her novels. She was divorced in 1928 but

ety that was closer to nature and which operated

soon met her second husband, Max Mallowan,

on a human rather than industrial scale.

an archeologist whom she often accompanied

Although several of the novels that followed

on digs.

shared elements of Notting Hil (and outdid it in

Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious

popularity), none have weathered the intervening

Affair at Styles (1920), was written on a dare from

decades of critical attention as well as his Father

her sister Mary. It contained several elements of

Brown stories. The Innocence of Father Brown, the

what came to be known as “Golden Age” myster-

first collection of these, introduced the protago-

ies: a country house, a puzzle with a logical solu-

nist, a Roman Catholic priest with extraordinary

tion, clues meant both to misdirect readers and to

reasoning powers. His intellect and his work with

give them a fair chance to solve the crime, and a

parishoners, which gives him considerable insight

distinctive detective. “Hercule Poirot, the dandy

into the workings of the human mind, make Father

with the egg-shaped head who is retired from the

Brown a superb detective. Over the course of sev-

Belgian police and living in England as a war ref-

eral volumes, Father Brown became one of the

ugee” became, according to critic David Hawkes,

best-loved literary detectives in the English tradi-

“Christie’s most famous creation.” Often assisted

tion. To this day, Chesterton’s Father Brown stories

by his loyal friend Captain Hastings, Poirot uses

resonate not only with mystery lovers but also the

his “little grey cells” to solve crimes in more than

large readership attracted to his religious themes.

30 subsequent books.

In Christie’s second novel, a thriller entitled

Another Work by G. K. Chesterton

The Secret Adversary (1920), two charming but

The Penguin Complete Father Brown. New York:

naïve adventurers solve a kidnapping and thwart

Penguin, 1987.

Bolshevik spies. Over the course of five books,

Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley marry,

Works about G. K. Chesterton

have children, and undertake secret missions for

Ahlquist, Dale. Common Sense 101: Lessons from

British intelligence. In Partners in Crime (1929),

G. K. Chesterton. Fort Collins, Colo.: Ignatius

Tommy and Tuppence solve several mysteries

Press, 2007.

using methods that parody well-known fictional

Pearce, Joseph. Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of

sleuths such as Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown,

G. K. Chesterton. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997.

and even Hercule Poirot.

Christie’s other detectives were introduced in

short stories. Mr. Parker Pyne becomes a profes-

Christie, Agatha (Mary Westmacott)

sional problem solver after retiring from his job as

(1890–1976) novelist, short story writer,

a government statistician. The mysterious Harley


Quin is described by Christie as a “catalyst” who

Born Agatha May Clarissa Miller in Devon,

was always “a friend of lovers, and connected with

England, Agatha Christie was educated at home


Churchill, Caryl 103

The only one of Christie’s sleuths to rival

Barnard notes that her generalized descriptions

Poirot in popularity is Miss Marple, a sweet old

allow readers to associate the characters and set-

lady “with a steel-trap mind and a genius for

tings in her books with the people and places they

analogy” whose knowledge of village life gives

know. Christie scholar Marty S. Knepper consid-

her unerring insight into crime, according to

ers her “the cleverest whodunit plotter ever, . . .

Martha Hailey DuBose. After solving the Mur-

known for fair but surprising endings.” Twenti-

der in the Vicarage (1930), Miss Marple appears

eth-Century Authors ranks The Murder of Roger

in 11 subsequent “cozy” mysteries, which are

Ackroyd (1926), a “brilliant tour de force with a

characterized by an amateur detective, a village

trick ending” as “one of the few undoubted clas-

setting, and a genteel omission of violent details

sics of the modern detective story.” In 1954 Chris-

about the crime.

tie became the first Grandmaster recognized by

After some of her books were dramatized,

the Mystery Writers of America. In 1971 she was

Christie felt she could do a better job and began

made a Dame Commander of the Order of the

to write her own plays. By the end of World War

British Empire (OBE).

II she was as well known for her plays as for her

mysteries. The Mousetrap (1952), in which guests

Other Works by Agatha Christie

at a country house are snowbound with a mur-

And Then There Were None. 1939. Reprint, New

derer, became the world’s longest-running play; it

York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001.

is still on stage in London. Director David Turner

An Autobiography. New York: Dodd, 1977.

attributes its longevity to Christie’s “knack of

Murder on the Orient Express. 1934. Reprint, New

making the solving of the crime more important

York: Berkley, 2000.

than the crime,” so that audiences get caught up

in trying to identify the murderer.

Works about Agatha Christie

While Christie’s mysteries made the best-seller

Benson, Matthew. The Complete Christie: An Agatha

lists and were often adapted into stage plays and

Christie Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket, 2000.

movies, the six romantic novels she wrote as Mary

Sova, Dawn B. Agatha Christie A to Z: The Essential

Westmacott never achieved popularity. Christie’s

Reference to Her Life and Writings. New York:

favorite, Absent in the Spring (1944), reflects her

Facts On File, 1996.

experiences in the Middle East, while Unfinished

Portrait (1934) portrays the breakdown of her first


Churchill, Caryl (1938– ) playwright

Christie herself said, “I regard my work of no

Caryl Churchill was born in London but spent

importance—I’ve simply been out to entertain,”

much of her early life in Canada. Her father, Rob-

but biographer Mary S. Wagoner wrote that “she

ert Churchill, was a political cartoonist distantly

dominated 20th-century classic British detective

related to Sir Winston Churchill; her mother was

fiction in all three of its forms: the short story,

a model, actress, and secretary. In 1956 the family

the novel, the play.” With other members of the

returned to England, and Churchill was horrified

the professional Mystery Writers Organization

at the class system she found. Many of her plays

Detection Club, such as Dorothy L. Sayers and

challenge English class structure.

G. K. Chesterton, Christie developed the rules

Churchill attended Oxford, graduating with a

of fair play that defined the novels of the Golden

B.A. in 1960. She wrote and staged her first plays

Age of mysteries, which ran roughly from 1920

while there, including a one-act play, Downstairs

to 1940.

(1958), and the play Having a Wonderful Time

While Christie has been criticized for her ste-

(1959). After she graduated, she wrote many suc-

reotyped characters, the mystery writer Robert

cessful plays for radio and television. Radio gave

104 Churchill, Caryl

her a chance to use scenes of unusual length, vary-

London. The play questions prejudices against

ing conventional scenes with very short ones, and

women and homosexuals and typifies Churchill’s

to move through time and space. She continued

unconventional dramatic strategies. Musical rou-

to use these devices in her later stage plays.

tines are part of the action, and the characters are

In 1972 Churchill wrote Owners, her first major

played by actors of the opposite sex. Cloud Nine

play for the theater. The play is about a woman,

won a Vil age Voice Obie Award.

Marion, who is a successful property developer

In the 1980s Churchill continued to produce

and incredibly cruel. Churchill deftly caricatures

clever plays exposing sexism and class preju-

Marion’s husband’s jealousy of her success: “She

dice. Her play Top Girls (1982), for example, asks

can stand on her own two feet which is something

what successful women have been required to do

I abominate in a woman.”

throughout history in order to succeed in a male-

From 1974 to 1975 Churchill was the Royal

dominated world. Softcops (1984) is a cabaret play

Court’s resident dramatist. During this time she

set in 19th-century France. The Times Literary

wrote Moving Clocks Go Slow, a science-fiction

Supplement reviewed Softcops as a “music-hall

play; and Objections to Sex and Violence (1975),

turn and Victorian freak show.” Churchill’s plays

about a female caretaker who is physically and

often use singing and music in unusual ways. The

sexually mistreated. This latter play brought her

critic Leonard Ashley notes that Churchill’s work

to the attention of a feminist theater group called

often uses “popular devices like song in a dance

Monstrous Regiment, which changed Churchill’s

of ideas that emphasize social rather than psycho-

entire way of writing.

logical conflicts.”

From 1961 to 1976 Churchill had written her

In the 1990s Churchill produced many diverse

plays on her own, and she found this isolation

plays that challenged the usual conventions of

very difficult. From 1976 onwards, Churchill dis-

drama. Mad Forest: A Play from Romania (1990)

covered the delight of creating plays while in dis-

was written after she and a group of student actors

cussion with producers and actors who shared her

visited Romania to research the atrocities of the

political principles. With the aid of Monstrous

Romanian dictator Ceausescu’s political regime.

Regiment, Churchill wrote Vinegar Tom (1976),

The Skriker (1994) is a fantastical blend of folk-

a play arguing that the 17th-century witch trials

lore and contemporary life depicting a malevolent

in England were actually motivated by hatred

goblin who chases two women to London, want-

and fear of women who did not fit conventions

ing to steal their firstborn children.

in various ways (i.e., unmarried or poor women,

Churchill has written scores of critically

or expert healers). The play includes a horrifying

acclaimed plays. The critic Benedict Nightingale

scene in which a woman is pierced with needles

praised her as “a dramatist who must surely be

by a witch-hunter.

rated among the half-dozen best now writing . . .

The late 1970s saw Churchill becoming increas-

a playwright of genuine audacity and assurance,

ingly successful and critically admired. In con-

able to use her considerable wit and intelligence

junction with the Joint Stock Theatre Group, for

in ways at once unusual, resonant, and dramati-

whom she wrote several plays, Churchill produced

cally riveting.”

Cloud Nine (1979), her famous two-act satire on

sexual prejudices. The first act describes a patron-

Other Works by Caryl Churchill

izing Victorian big-game hunter on an African

Far Away. New York: Theatre Communications

safari: “Women can be treacherous and evil. They

Group, 2001.

are darker and more dangerous than men. The

Plays: One. Owners, Traps, Vinegar Tom, Light Shin-

family protects us from that.” The second act fea-

ing in Buckinghamshire, Cloud Nine. London:

tures the same characters, 25 years older, in 1979

Methuen, 1985.

Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer 105

Plays: Two. Softcops, Top Girls, Fen, Serious Money.

sail for Cuba. There, on his 21st birthday, he was

London: Methuen, 1990.

involved in combat. He distinguished himself to

such a degree that he was awarded the Spanish

Works about Caryl Churchill

Order of the Red Cross. He also began his writing

Kritzer, Amelia. Plays of Caryl Churchil : Theatre

career at this time, earning five pounds per dis-

of Empowerment. New York: St. Martin’s Press,

patch as a reporter for the British newspaper the


Daily Graphic. Thus began a writing career that

Randall, Phyllis. Caryl Churchil : A Casebook. New

would last another 70 years and produce 34 vol-

York: Garland, 1988.

umes of history, biography, autobiography, and a

novel, along with four volumes of essays and eight

volumes of speeches.

Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer

In the winter of 1896–97 the Hussars were

(1874–1965) historian, biographer, journalist,

posted to India, where there seemed nothing to

memoirist, essayist, novelist

do but play polo and read books. At his request,

Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace,

Churchill’s mother sent him the eight volumes of

England, to an American mother, Jenny Jerome,

Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fal of the Roman

whose father was Leonard Jerome, proprietor and

Empire along with the works of Plato and Aristo-

editor of the New York Times during the Civil War.

tle. Among 19th-century British writers, he read

Churchill’s father was Lord Randolph Churchill,

Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, and historian

a descendant of John Churchill, the first duke of

Thomas Babington Macaulay. Macaulay’s choice

Malborough and one of England’s most distin-

of subjects, his style, and the example of his life

guished soldiers.

in government service made him probably the

Churchill’s father was an ambitious politician,

single greatest influence on Churchill’s future

and his pursuit of advancement in Parliament


left him no time for concern with his son’s edu-

Churchill studied seriously three or four hours

cation. After unhappily enduring a preparatory

a day for months, until he had another opportu-

school young Winston was sent to Harrow, one

nity to see combat, in northern India. As before

of the great English public schools, where his

in Cuba, he paid his way by reporting, this time

academic record was so unpromising that he was

for the Allahabad Pioneer. He then wrote his first

not considered a candidate for Oxford or Cam-

book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898).

bridge. However, he had one teacher at Harrow

Soon he sought out yet another war reporting

who taught him to love the structure of the Eng-

job, this time for the Morning Post with General

lish sentence, a love that would serve him well in

Kitchener in Egypt, also in 1898.

his later oratory and written histories. His father

Realizing that he could earn a living with his

decided that he should go to Sandhurst, the Brit-

writing and could have more freedom outside the

ish military academy. He was commissioned a

army, Churchill resigned his commission in 1899

second lieutenant in 1895 and was assigned to the

and made his first run for a seat in Parliament.

4th Queen’s Own Hussars.

He lost this first election but ran again in 1900

Peacetime service in England for aristocratic

and was elected. Thus began a political career that

officers of fashionable regiments was anything but

lasted for 64 years, including two terms as prime

arduous, and Churchill’s low threshold of bore-


dom drove him to seek adventure and excitement

In 1906 Churchill wrote a substantial biogra-

in a shooting war. There was only one available

phy of his father, Lord Randolph Churchil . In 1908

at the time, a rebellion in Cuba against Spanish

he married Clementine Hozier. He subsequently

rule, so with another adventurous soldier he set

wrote a four-volume history of World War I, The

106 Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer

World Crisis (1923–31). Churchill described his

Commonwealth and the Empire could not be

intentions with that work: “I set myself at each

stormed. Alone, but upborne by every generous

stage to answer the questions ‘What happened,

heart-beat of mankind, we had defied the tyrant

and Why?’ I seek to guide the reader to those

in the height of his triumph.” The work appealed

points where the course of events is being decided,

to a Britain recovering from the devastation of

whether it be on a battlefield, in a conning tower,

the German attacks and eager to celebrate their

in Council, in Parliament, in a lobby, a laboratory,

victory. Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize

or a workshop.” Arthur Conan Doyle praised the

in literature in 1953. Biographer Maurice Ashley

history, saying it contained “the finest prose style

praises Churchill’s achievements in historiog-

of any contemporary.”

raphy while explaining away their defects: “He

Churchill followed The World Crisis with what

never had either the time or inclination to absorb

many consider to be his masterpiece, Marlbor-

himself in it completely or to revise his work in

ough: His Life and Times (1933–38). This was a

detail in the light of later knowledge: he preferred

biography of his most famous ancestor, the duke

to make history than to write it.”

of Marlborough, a war hero from the early 18th

In his 80s, Churchill produced what is possibly

century. While writing this work, and through-

his best-known work today, the four-volume A

out the 1930s, Churchill warned his country and

History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956–58).

the world of the Nazi threat in Germany. His col-

He intended with this work to emphasize the

lected speeches from between the two world wars,

common heritage of Britain, the United States,

and particularly in the early years of the second

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, weaving

war, represent his best and most stirring prose:

together their histories from the Middle Ages to

the end of the 19th century. His conclusion makes

If we can stand up to him [Hitler], all Europe

his ideological agenda explicit: “Here is set out a

may be free and the life of the world may

long story of the English-speaking peoples. They

move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

are now become Allies in terrible but victorious

But if we fail, then the whole world, includ-

wars. And that is not the end.” His section on the

ing the United States, including all that we

American Civil War is generally considered the

have known and cared for, will sink into the

strongest part of the book. Although American

abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister,

historians had written volumes about this event,

and perhaps more protracted by the lights

the peculiarities of American politics were still

of perverted science. Let us therefore brace

incomprehensible to many Europeans. Churchill

ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves

condensed this chapter of history, making it

that, if the British Empire and its Common-

accessible to British readers: “It is almost impos-

wealth last for a thousand years, men will still

sible for us nowadays [to realize] how profoundly

say, “This was their finest hour.”

and inextricably Negro slavery was interwoven

into the whole life, economy, and culture of the

Churchill became Britain’s prime minister

Southern states.” By modern historiographic

and led his country to victory in the war. After-

standards, Churchill’s patriotism, his rhetorical

ward, he published the monumental The Second

flourishes, and his overwhelming belief in prog-

World War (1948–54) in six volumes. Because he

ress detract from the ideal of history as the plain

was involved in so many of the major decisions of

narration of facts. Furthermore, his history deals

the war, the work is essentially a long autobiogra-

almost exclusively with politics and war, omitting

phy of those years. Churchill employed the same

the histories of art, literature, science, and every-

rhetorical style that made his speeches so memo-

day life. However, as scholar Manfred Weidhorn

rable to the writing of history: “The citadel of the

wrote: “It will survive as a contribution to history

Clark, Polly 107

by a successful man of action, politician, orator,

of an infant. It was short-listed for the Forward

journalist rather than a scholar.”

Poetry Prize for Best Collection of the Year.

Together, Clanchy’s three collections have earned

Works about Winston Churchill

her a reputation as one of the more important

Gilbert, Martin. Churchil : A Life. New York: Holt,

poets of the last three decades.


Clanchy also writes regularly for the Guardian

———. Winston Churchil ’s War Leadership. New

as well as for radio.

York: Vintage, 2007.

Jenkins, Roy. Churchil : A Biography. New York:

Another Work by Kate Clanchy

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.

All the Poems You Need to Say Hel o. London: Pica-

dor, 2004.

Clanchy, Kate (1965– ) poet, journalist

A Work about Kate Clanchy

Kate Sarah Clanchy was born on November 6,

Hobsbaum, Philip. “Clanchy, Kate.” Contemporary

1965, in Glasgow. She attended Oxford University,

Poets. Edited by Thomas Riggs. 7th ed. Detroit:

then worked in London for several years before

St. James Press, 2001, 161–162.

returning to Oxford to write and teach English

and creative writing. She married Matthew Reyn-

olds in 1999, with whom she had a son.

Clark, Polly (1968– ) poet

Her first collection, Slattern, won both the For-

Polly Clark was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1968.

ward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in 1995

She grew up in Cumbria, Lancashire, and the bor-

and a Somerset Maugham Award. This book was

ders of Scotland, studied English and philosophy

widely acclaimed for its boldness and accessibility;

at Liverpool University, and earned an M.A. in

most of its poems are intensely sensual, focusing

English literature at Oxford Brookes University.

on sexual attraction and exploring the bittersweet

Before she earned recognition as an emerging

difficulties of intimate relationships. Clanchy was

poet, she held a number of unusual jobs, includ-

particularly praised for her unusual imagery and

ing zookeeper in Edinburgh and English teacher

sardonic observation. Her book also won the Saltire

in Hungary.

Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award and

After Clark began publishing her poetry in lit-

the Scottish Arts Council Book Award.

erary journals, she won an Eric Gregory Award

Clanchy’s second collection, Samarkand (1999),

in 1997, a prize given to British poets under the

also won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Its

age of 30. Her first collection, Kiss (2000), was a

poems are much more varied in subject and style,

Poetry Society Recommendation. The poems in

though a theme of the joys of settled monogamy

this collection draw on her work experience and

predominates. She also writes of ancestors and a

personal relationships; many of them confront

young couple’s efforts to redecorate an old house.

the painful loss of a loved one (a father, a lover,

The feminine consciousness of her first collection

an unborn child) or the lingering pain that comes

is still evident, but tempered with a greater confi-

from such absences. Clark uses animal imagery

dence and mastery of her craft. Whereas the verses

to communicate human suffering and vulnerabil-

of Slattern owe some of their formal features to

ity as well as violence. Critics generally praised

Philip Larkin and Simon Armitage, the poems

Clark’s imagery, although some noted it seemed

of Samarkand evince a more distinct voice.

to lack authority.

In her latest collection, Newborn (2004),

After her first collection was released, Clark

Clanchy again explores new territory in the femi-

attracted significantly more attention. In 2004

nine experience, this time as a wife and mother

Mslexia magazine named her among the 10 best

108 Clarke, Sir Arthur Charles

poets to emerge in the last decade, and she was

(1952) gives a guided tour of life aboard a space

poet in residence for the Southern Daily Echo in


Southampton for three years. She also developed

At times Clarke’s science fiction becomes

translation exchanges between poets around the

almost mystical, as time and again he employs


science to inspire the sort of awe normally

Her second collection, Take Me with You

reserved for religion. As he notes in his nonfic-

(2005) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was

tion book Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into

also short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Critics

the Limits of the Possible (1984), “Any sufficiently

admired Clark’s development of a more distinct

advanced technology is indistinguishable from

voice; these poems were more accomplished and

magic.” Thus, in one of his best-known novels,

confident than those in Kiss. Clark employs a

Rendezvous with Rama (1973), he depicts human

more objective voice in many of them while inves-

scientists trying to understand a large, wonderous

tigating the complex relationships between love,

alien space craft that drifts into our solar system.

marriage, self, identity, and conformity. These

As the critic Peter Nicholls observes, “The space-

poems are more complicated and demonstrate a

ship is a symbol of almost mythic significance,

greater range of tone.

enigmatic, powerful, and fascinating.”

Clark now works in publishing and lives in

Influenced by the writer Olaf Stapledon,


Clarke speculates in a number of his novels on

the evolution of the human race. Thus, in Child-

Other Works by Poliy Clark

hood’s End (1953) all of humanity merges into a

Singularities. Featured with Tim Kendall and Gra-

single great super-being. Helping in the process

ham Nelson. Oxford: Hubble Press, 1997.

are aliens who, ironically, look like demons and

El ipsis 2. Contributor. Mytholmroyd, England:

devils. The science fiction author Robert J. Saw-

Comma, 2006.

yer has written that Childhood’s End inspired

readers and writers alike because Clarke ended it

A Work about Polly Clark

with intriguing, unanswered questions, “so that

Author Web site. Available online. URL: http: //www.

the reader can write the sequel in his or her own



Accessed January 28, 2008.

In Clarke’s most famous novel, 2001: A Space

Odyssey (1968), the author blends his fascination

with the technology of space travel with specu-

Clarke, Sir Arthur Charles (1917–2008)

lation on the next stage of human development.

novelist, nonfiction writer

Based on his short story “The Sentinel” (1951),

Arthur C. Clarke was one of science fiction’s

about evidence of alien life discovered on the

most important authors. Born to Charles Clarke,

Moon, and developed simultaneously with Stanley

a farmer, and his wife, Nora, in Minehead, Som-

Kubrick’s film version, 2001 tells how an unseen,

ersetshire, England, Clarke later studied physics

powerful alien race uses devices shaped like black

and mathematics at King’s College and worked as

monoliths first to help early humans develop tools

a radar technician in the Royal Air Force during

and then to transform a 21st-century astronaut,

World War II.

David Bowman, into a godlike starchild. The

Clarke’s fiction is marked by accurate science

novel earned praise beyond the science fiction

and logical extrapolation from current knowl-

community, with the New Yorker commenting on

edge. His novel Sands of Mars (1952), for example,

the novel’s “poetry, scientific imagination, and . . .

tells in almost documentary fashion the story of

wit.” Clarke has written three sequels, of which

the exploration of Mars, while Islands in the Sky

3001: The Final Odyssey (1997) is the last.

Clarke, Sir Arthur Charles 109

Clarke produced many nonfiction books, most

Critical Analysis

championing science and technology. He was the

2001: A Space Odyssey is an amazing work in many

first writer to propose the creation of telecommu-

ways, but one of its most amazing characteristics

nications satellites in 1947. As he would write in

is its prescience. Written in 1964, before man

1984, Spring: A Choice of Futures (1984), he has

walked on the Moon, it imagines much that has

never shared George Orwell’s fear that new

now come to pass. Even 40 years after it was writ-

technology would be used to enslave or dehuman-

ten, it hardly seems dated at all. The story begins 3

ize. While others condemn television for corrupt-

million odd years ago in Africa. A monolith sent

ing the public, Clarke argues that it is an essential

to Earth by an advanced alien race manages by

component of a moral world because it allows the

some sort of telepathy to teach humans how to

entire planet to see wrongdoing and misery and

use tools. Before leaving the galaxy, the alien crea-

thus act to stop it.

tures also bury a similar monolith on the Moon.

Clarke also wrote many books promoting space

In the 20th century, as humans begin to colonize

travel, most notably The Exploration of Space (1951),

the Moon, the monolith is uncovered, and, at the

winner of the 1952 International Fantasy Award;

moment of its first catching the sunlight, it sends

and The Promise of Space (1968). He also wrote

a signal. It is clear to the scientists who are study-

several nonfiction works on undersea exploration,

ing this discovery that the alien race intended

including The Chal enge of the Sea (1960) and Indian

the monolith to notify them when humanity had

Ocean Treasure (1964), as well as two mainstream

gained the ability to travel in space.

novels: The Deep Range (1957), about future colo-

Eighteen months after this discovery, a

nization of the ocean; and Dolphin Island (1963),

manned spacecraft is on its way to Saturn. The

dealing with communication between humans

scientists on the Moon believe that the signal sent

and dolphins. Clarke became so fascinated by

by the monolith was directed to a spot on one of

scuba-diving that he moved to Sri Lanka, where he

Saturn’s moons. Because of fears that humans will

could dive year round. Despite his great familiarity

react irrationally to the knowledge that there is

with science, Clarke also developed an interest in

life elsewhere in the universe, the scientists keep

paranormal phenomena, and he recounted various

the reason for the mission secret; even the pilots,

reports of ghosts and psychic powers as the host of

Bowman and Poole, do not know. Unfortunately,

two television series devoted to such claims.

the ship’s incredibly advanced computer, HAL,

In recognition of the scope and impact of his

does know and has been ordered not to reveal

nonfiction work, Clarke won the 1962 UNESCO

the truth to Bowman and Poole. This creates a

Kalinga Prize for science writing. In 2000 he was

disconnect in HAL’s logic circuits, which leads

knighted, in part because for his contributions to

to the most terrifying moments in the novel, as


HAL turns on and attempts to destroy his human

Still, it is for his role in the development of

companions. When the battle is over, only Bow-

modern science fiction that Clarke remains best

man survives—and he is eventually transported

known. The American science fiction author Isaac

through a stargate and transformed into another

Asimov praised Clarke’s ability to create imagina-

kind of being, who then returns to Earth with the

tive stories without straying from known scientific

promise of another transformation of humanity,

principles, saying of him, “Nothing reasonable

as great as the use of tools once was.

frightens him simply because it seems fantastic.”

In this novel, Clarke touched on many of the

The scholar Eric Rabkin observes that Clarke’s

themes and ideas that inform his other work,

“unique combination of strong plots of discovery

including the perils of technology and techno-

and compelling scientific detail mark his work as

logical malfunction, evolution and the history of

among the most polished in the genre.”

humanity’s progress, space exploration and the

110 Clarke, Susanna

inventions that must accompany it. He added a

Gaiman, arranged for its publication in a collec-

significant mythological dimension; even the title

tion of fantasy writing. It was about three appar-

itself suggests the Greek tale of the long voyage

ently respectable women who secretly practice

home of Odysseus, and HAL, represented by the

magic and are discovered by a famous early 19th-

single lens with which he watches the astronauts,

century English magician, Jonathan Strange.

is akin to the cyclops, Polyphemus. Many elements

This piece was a fragment of a sprawling nar-

of the mythological quest are present, as Bow-

rative that Clarke had been working on, and,

man, representing humankind, seeks knowledge

after 10 years of labor, the nearly 800-page novel

and, perhaps, immortality. In the end, Bowman

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel (2004) appeared

does not know what the future will bring and the

to critical and popular acclaim. Beginning in

meaning of his transformation, but he returns to

1806 and progressing through the Napoleonic

Earth with hope and optimism.

era, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel relates the

adventures of the title characters, two English

Other Works by Arthur C. Clarke

magicians whose abilities to perform actual

The Col ected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke. New York:

spells herald the return of magic to England. At

Tor, 2000.

first Norrell mentors Strange, but a rift develops

A Fall of Moondust. New York: Signet, 1961.

between them, and they become rivals. Crammed

The Fountains of Paradise. New York: Harcourt

with historical detail and pedantic and pseudo-

Brace, 1979.

scholarly footnotes, the novel presents Strange

providing, for example, magical assistance to the

Works about Arthur C. Clarke

duke of Wellington in his battles with Napoleon

McAleer, Neil. Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized

and offering inspiration to Lord Byron, Shelley,

Biography. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1992.

and his young bride, Mary Shelley. It also features

Reid, Robin Anne, ed. Arthur C. Clarke: A Critical

a mythic figure, John Uskglass, the Raven King,

Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,

who shadows the celebrated figures of the period


and contrives to supplant King George III on the

British throne.

Clarke’s novel has been marketed as an adult

Clarke, Susanna (1959– ) novelist, short

version of J. K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter

story writer

series. It also exhibits influences from the novels

Born in Nottingham, England, in 1959, Susanna

of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, J. R. R. Tolkien,

Clarke was raised in the north of England and

C. S. Lewis, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Alan Moore.

Scotland by Methodist ministers. She studied

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel is compulsively

economics, philosophy, and politics at St. Hilda’s

literary in the way it interweaves the fantasti-

College, Oxford. After a two-year stint teaching

cal with the historical. “What keeps this densely

English in Italy and Spain, Clarke returned to

realized confection aloft,” Gregory MacGuire has

Cambridge, England, as a cookbook editor for

written, “is that reverence to the writers of the

Simon and Schuster, where she lives with her

past. The chief character in Jonathan Strange isn’t,

partner, Colin Greenland, a science fiction and

in fact, either of the magicians: it’s the library that

fantasy novelist and critic. She and Greenland

they both adore, the books they consult and write

met in 1993 when Clarke enrolled in a course he

and, in a sense, become.” With the success of this

was conducting on writing science fiction and

first novel, Clarke has issued a collection of her

fantasy. Clarked submitted a story, “The Ladies of

short fiction, The Ladies of Grace Adieu (2006).

Grace Adieu,” which captivated Greenland, and

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel garnered several

he and his friend and fellow fantasy novelist, Neil

literary awards, the 2005 Hugo Award and Brit-

Coetzee, John Maxwell 111

ish Book Award for Newcomer of the Year, as well

encounters a homeless man, Vercueil, whom she

as being short-listed for the 2004 Whitbread First

tries to shape into an ideal human being; second,

Novel Award. A film version of the novel is under

she visits an impoverished black township. Both


incidents reveal the illusions of many white South

Africans. Mrs. Curren, although well-intentioned,

fails to recognize Vercueil as an individual upon

Coetzee, John Maxwell (1940– )

whom she does not have the right to impose a new


identity, and her belief that black South Africans

J. M. Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South

lead pleasant, comfortable lives is overturned.

Africa. Although his parents were Afrikaners,

Coetzee has won many awards, including

Coetzee attended English schools and studied

Britain’s Booker Prize, South Africa’s CNA Lit-

English literature at the University of Cape Town.

erary Award, and France’s Prix Femina Etranger.

This background has allowed him to create real-

In 2003 Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in

istic characters, both Afrikaner and English—an

literature. According to the critic Kelly Hewson,

uncommon achievement in South African fiction.

Coetzee’s fiction powerfully demonstrates “that

In 1962 Coetzee moved to England to work

oppression and injustice are not limited to South

as a computer programmer, but he grew dissat-

Africa, that, in some sense, they are eternal.”

isfied with the work. In 1966 he was awarded a

Fulbright scholarship to complete his doctoral

Critical Analysis

thesis in English at the University of Texas. While

Coetzee’s Disgrace is a very dark novel about

in the United States, he protested the Vietnam

disgrace in all its various forms and nuances,

War, comparing it to South African apartheid.

set against the backdrop of South Africa’s great

The comparison continued to trouble him after

national disgrace, apartheid. The novel follows

his 1972 return to South Africa to teach at the

the fate of David Lurie, a professor at Cape Tech-

University of Cape Town.

nical University, who is disgraced as a result of

Coetzee’s first book, Dusklands (1974), com-

sexually harrassing one of his stuents. Lurie

bines these two concerns. It consists of two novel-

is already a bit of a failure before the incident

las. The first, “The Vietnam Project,” describes an

that leads to his downfall. A former professor of

army propaganda officer who devises a psycho-

modern languages and specialist in the romantic

logical scheme to harm the North Vietnamese.

poets, Lurie is now reduced to teaching commu-

The second, “The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee,”

nications, allowed to teach one course a year in

has its title character, an 18th-century explorer,

the field of his specialization. He is twice divorced

first study then massacre a South African tribe.

and, as described in the opening line of the novel,

Although the settings differ, both stories exam-

“For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has,

ine the effects of colonialism. In Coetzee’s view,

to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather

colonialism alienates individuals from the world

well.” His solution is to pay an escort service for

because the process of colonization creates a per-

weekly encounters with an African prostitute

manent division between two groups. This alien-

who uses the pseudonym Soraya. Neither of them

ation is the central theme in Coetzee’s fiction.

discloses anything intimate to the other and they

Many South African reviewers criticized

both seem satisfied with their brief, businesslike

Dusklands and subsequent novels because they

encounters. When Lurie happens to see Soraya

did not portray the contemporary abuses of apart-

on the street with her sons, it is clear in the weeks

heid. In response, Coetzee published Age of Iron

that follow that she feels violated by his knowl-

(1990). The novel’s protagonist, the terminally ill

edge of her life, and she eventually ends their

Mrs. Curren, has two key experiences. First, she


112 Coetzee, John Maxwell

Lurie then turns to a student in his poetry

returning. Lurie interrogates her, demanding that

class. Melanie Isaacs is curiously passive in her

she explain her decision to his satisfaction. About

acceptance of his amorous advances. He is driven

her rapists she says, “What if that is the price one

by his lust to the point that he tracks her down to

has to pay for staying on? Perhaps that is how they

her apartment and makes love to her in a man-

look at it; perhaps that is how I should look at it

ner disturbingly close to rape. She tells him “Not

too. They see me as owing something. They see

now! . . . My cousin will be back!” He knows that

themselves as debt collectors, tax collectors, Why

it was “not rape, not quite that, but undesired nev-

should I be allowed to live here without paying?

ertheless, undesired to the core. As though, she

Perhaps that is what they tell themselves.” With

had decided to go slack, die within herself for the

irony he himself does not at the moment appreci-

duration, like a rabbit when the jaws of the fox

ate, Lurie replies, “I am sure they tell themselves

close on its neck. So that everything done to her

many things. It is in their interest to make up

might be done, as it were, far away.”

stories that justify them.” Earlier Lurie had told

Urged on by her boyfriend and her family,

Melanie that she should sleep with him because “a

Melanie eventually reports Lurie to the college

woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is

authorities, who hold a hearing to determine

part of the bounty she brings into the world. She

his punishment. Lurie’s interrogation by his col-

has a duty to share it.”

leagues bears an ambiguous and complex relation-

Eventually, Lucy agrees to become the third

ship to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation

wife of her African neighbor, who once worked

tribunal, a series of hearings designed to ferret out

for her, in order to be allowed to stay where she

some of the crimes commited by both sides dur-

is and to care for the chid she has conceived as

ing the period of apartheid in South Africa. Lurie

a result of the rape. Again, Lurie is infuriated,

admits his crimes but refuses to engage in what

again he interrogates his daughter. He tells her

he later terms “abasement.” He cannot, will not,

that her choice is humiliating. She replies, “Yes,

repent, nor will he submit himself to counseling.

I agree, it is humiliating. But perhaps that is a

When he is asked by a reporter after the hearing

good point to start from again. Perhaps that is

if he is sorry for his relationship with the girl, he

what I must learn to accept. To start at ground

replies that, to the contrary, he was “enriched” by

level. With nothing . . . No cards, no weapons,

the experience.

no property, no rights, no dignity.” Lurie replies,

Because of his refusal to give his colleagues

“Like a dog.” Lucy agrees, “Yes, like a dog.” This,

the kind of response they seek, Lurie is stripped

Lucy suggests, is the grace in disgrace, the gift of

of his job and his pension. He goes off to live

losing everything.

with his daughter, Lucy, on a small farm in the

Even at this point, Lurie does not quite see the

Eastern Cape region. Lucy is a lesbian, now liv-

parallel between his interrogation and question-

ing alone after the departure of her companion,

ing of his daughter, between his disgrace and

Helen. Lucy runs a kennel and grows flowers for

that of his daughter’s. He cannot comprehend

sale in the nearest farmer’s market. The second

why she does not give him the answers he wants.

“disgrace” comes when Lucy’s home is invaded by

Yet the end of the novel suggests a small grace in

three African men. They lock Lurie in the bath-

Lurie’s acceptance of his new occupation, bearing

room while they ransack the house and serially

dead unwanted dogs to the incinerator. He learns

rape Lucy. They then set Lurie on fire and steal

something about abnegation and something

his car. In the aftermath, Lucy accepts her rape

about love.

with what to Lurie is an astounding degree of

This is a novel with thousands of questions and

passivity, and she determines to stay where she is

no easy answers. It is about the heights of power

regardless of the danger she may be in of the men

and the depths of disgrace, about the conscious

Colegate, Isabel 113

and unconscious uses of power, about blacks and

Colegate’s aristocratic experience enriches her

whites, men and women, people and animals,

novels The Great Occasion (1962) and Statues in a

and ultimately the impossibility of some kinds of

Garden (1964). Both novels describe moments of

communication. It is a brilliant, difficult, taunt-

transition in English culture. The first covers the

ing, scouring book.

1950s to 1970s, and the second is set in 1914, with

World War I on the horizon. World War I was the

Other Works by J. M. Coetzee

catalyst for huge changes to the comfortable, aris-

Diary of a Bad Year. New York: Viking, 2007.

tocratic way of life that the British landed gentry

Life & Times of Michael K. New York: Viking,

had enjoyed for centuries.


The Shooting Party (1980) is Colegate’s most

Waiting for the Barbarians. New York: Penguin,

famous evocation of the aristocracy’s vulnerabil-


ity on the eve of World War I. The novel describes

a weekend of flirtation at a country house to

Works about J. M. Coetzee

which guests have been invited for a shooting

Gallagher, Susan. A Story of South Africa: J. M.

party. However, this luxurious environment is

Coetzee’s Fiction in Context. Cambridge, Mass.:

doomed by history, its comfortable, ritualized

Harvard University Press, 1991.

violence fading out after the greater violence of

Kossew, Sue, ed. Critical Essays on J. M. Coetzee.

World War I. The shooting party ends in tragedy,

New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.

and “[b]y the time the next season came round

Poyner, Jane. J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public

a bigger shooting party had begun, in Flanders.”

Intellectual. Columbus: Ohio University Press,

The Daily Telegraph called The Shooting Party


“as vivid and brilliant as painting on glass.” The

novel won the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and it

became a popular film in 1984.

Colegate, Isabel (1931– ) novelist,

Colegate’s novel A Winter Journey (1995) is

nonfiction writer

about an elderly brother and sister, Edith and

Born in Lincolnshire, England, Isabel Colegate

Alfred. Both of them have been successful in their

was part of an aristocratic family. Her father, Sir

careers, Edith in politics and Alfred in photog-

Arthur Colegate, was a politician, and her mother

raphy, but they are haunted by painful memo-

was Lady Colegate, born Frances Worsley. Coleg-

ries from their past. They spend a quiet weekend

ate’s writing reflects much of her childhood expe-

holiday together, and their proximity forces them

rience of class. Many of her novels explore how

to remember and face these painful memories.

class has changed in English society throughout

Kirkus Reviews described the novel as “sharp-

the 20th century.

eyed yet warm-hearted, unfailingly witty, impec-

Colegate left school when she was 16. She com-

cably written.”

pleted her first novel, The Blackmailer, within a

Colegate’s first nonfiction book, A Pelican in

year, although it was not published until 1958.

the Wilderness: Hermits and Solitaries (2002), a

The Blackmailer describes a war widow who

reverie on the attractions of solitude, examines

believes her husband died heroically; the villain,

ancient and contemporary loners. But Coleg-

who knows that in fact her husband was a cow-

ate remains best known as a novelist recording

ard, threatens to reveal the truth publicly. Soon

Britain’s changes through the 20th century. As

the relationship between blackmailer and widow

the reviewer Claire Dederer notes, “Isabel Coleg-

becomes complex and passionate. This novel was

ate has a unique gift for shining the bright light

Colegate’s first exploration of a recurring theme:

of passing history onto seemingly quiet rural

the interconnection between money and power.


114 Collier, John

Other Works by Isabel Colegate

up.’ ” When Carter goes upstairs to administer the

A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory. London: Hamilton, 1985.

beating, his wife hears screams and finds “on the

The Orlando Trilogy. London: Penguin, 1984.

second floor landing . . . the shoe, with the man’s

foot still in it, like that last morsel of a mouse

which sometimes falls unnoticed from the side of

Collier, John (1901–1980) novelist, short

the jaws of the cat.”

story writer, poet

Although some critics accused Collier of

John Collier, the son of John George and Emily

misogyny for his treatment of women in Married

Noyes Collier, was born in London to an affluent

to a Chimp, his legacy is mostly positive. Accord-

family. Privately educated, he never attended col-

ing to the novelist Anthony Burgess, Collier

lege and published his first poem at age 19.

“possessed considerable literary skill and a rare

Yet it is not for his poetry that Collier is remem-

capacity to entertain.”

bered, but for his novels and science fiction short

stories. His first novel, Married to a Chimp (1931),

Another Work by John Collier

is modeled after Victorian novels that are con-

The John Col ier Reader. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,

cerned with familial interactions. It differs from


that form, however, in that the main acquaintance

of its central character, Mr. Fatigay, is a chimpan-

A Work about John Collier

zee named Emily, whom he adopts while teach-

Richardson, Betty. John Collier. Boston: G. K. Hall,

ing in the Congo. When he returns to England,


he prefers Emily’s company to that of his fianceé,

Amy, and comes to consider the chimpanzee his

true wife.

Colum, Padraic (Patrick Collumb) (1881–

Married to a Chimp exhibits some fantastic ele-

1972) poet, playwright, children’s writer

ments, but it cannot be classified as fantasy, as are

Poet and playwright Padraic Colum was born

many of the stories in Collier’s collection Fancies

Patrick Collumb in Longford, Ireland. In 1901 he

and Goodnights (1951). Many of the stories in this

joined the Irish Republican Army and adopted

book, which won the first International Fantasy

the Gaelic spelling of his name. He spent much of

Award, explore marriage and murder using of a

his time at the National Library, where he started

detached tone, omniscient narrators, stock char-

a close friendship with fellow poet James Joyce.

acters, and surprise endings, characteristics sug-

At 17, while working as a clerk in the Irish Railway

gesting the influence of Aldous Huxley, Saki,

Clearing House in Dublin, Colum began writing

and Ronald Firbank. The most famous stories

in his spare time. Much of his subject matter came

in the collection are “The Chaser,” a tale in which

from stories told by inmates of his father’s work-

a young man buys a love potion that will result in

house. In 1902 Colum won a competition for his

his paramour becoming horribly and perpetually

play The Saxon Shil in’, which dealt with Irishmen

obsessed with him; and “Thus I Refute Beezly.”

joining the British army.

In the latter story, Mr. Carter arrives home from

Colum acted in and wrote plays for the Irish

work to find his son Simon engaged in a con-

National Theatre Society. After his play Broken

versation with an imaginary person named Mr.

Soil (1903) was staged, he focused on writing. His

Beezly. Infuriated by this display of imagination,

poems began to appear in newspapers, and he

Mr. Carter threatens to beat his son to make him

became acquainted with key figures of the Irish

stop, but Simon remarks that Mr. Beezly “ ‘said

Literary Renaissance, including W. B. Yeats,

he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. . . . He said he’d

James Stephens, and Lady Gregory, one of

come like a lion, with wings on, and eat them

the founders of the Abbey Theatre. Colum wrote

Comfort, Alex 115

some of the theater’s first plays and found success

Comfort, Alex (1920–2000) novelist,

with his peasant drama The Land (1905). The play

nonfiction writer, poet, essayist

deals with the emigration of many young Irish to

Alex Comfort was born in London to Alexander

America after Ireland’s Land Act of 1903, which

Comfort, an education officer, and Daisy Com-

allowed families to buy their own land. Martin,

fort. He was educated at home and exhibited

a farmer whose daughter is leaving, complains

extraordinary intellectual abilities early on; he

to his son about having no one to talk to. “For

blew the fingers off his left hand while construct-

when I’m talking to you, Cornelius, I feel like

ing a bomb at age 14. Comfort published a travel

a boy who lends back all the marbles he’s won,

book at 18, before entering Trinity College, Cam-

and plays again, just for the sake of the game.”

bridge. While still an undergraduate he published

Although filled with humorous dialogue, the

his first novel, No Such Liberty (1941). He pub-

play ultimately feels somber, as two young people

lished another novel, The Power House (1944), set

decide to leave their families. Colum scholar

in France, between earning his B.A. in 1943 and

Curtis Canfield writes that “in the final analy-

his M.A. in 1945.

sis, the play represents a tragic whole, although

Comfort’s best novel, On This Side Nothing

the parts which make it up are . . . not tragic but

(1949), explores the Zionist movement and was


published the same year he received his Ph.D.

Colum’s first book of poetry, Wild Earth (1907),

A pacifist and an anarchist, Comfort published

included such famous poems as “A Drover” and

Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, a

“An Old Woman of the Roads.” In 1914 Colum

work applying psychiatry and psychological find-

traveled to New York, where he wrote children’s

ings to political science, in 1950.

stories for the Sunday Tribune, which were col-

In the 1950s Comfort began research on the

lected in The King of Ireland’s Son (1916). In 1922

genetics and biology of aging, all the while writ-

he was asked by the Hawaiian legislature to write

ing and publishing poems, novels, and essays. He

three children’s volumes based on the islands’

published The Biology of Senescence in 1961 and


Ageing and the Biology of Senescence in 1964.

After spending the early 1930s in France,

Despite his prolific literary career, it was The Joy

Colum and his wife Joyce returned to America to

of Sex (1972) that made Comfort’s popular reputa-

teach comparative literature at Columbia Univer-

tion as well as his fortune. This book, which he

sity. Colum published more than 50 books before

later said took him two weeks to write, sold more

his death. Stopford A. Brooke wrote of him, “To

than 12 million copies in dozens of languages.

hear him . . . give a reading from his own poems

The title was a play on The Joy of Cooking and

or tales, is to fall under the spell of all Ireland.”

was subtitled A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking.

The work captured the spirit of the times, follow-

Other Works by Padraic Colum

ing, as it did, the sexually liberating years of the

Selected Poems of Padraic Colum. Edited by Sanford

late 1960s, and its illustrations, which depicted

Sternlicht. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University

ordinary people rather than young Venuses and

Press, 1989.

Adonises, appealed to a very wide audience.

The Trojan War and the Adventures of Odysseus.

After Joy’s publication, Comfort moved to

1918. Reprint, New York: William Morrow,

Santa Barbara, California, where he remained


until his return to England in 1985. He updated

his work in More Joy of Sex (1974) and The New

A Work about Padraic Colum

Joy of Sex (1991). In his early enthusiasms over life

Sternlicht, Sanford. Padraic Colum. Boston: Twayne,

extension, he suggested, at a scientific conference


in Washington, D.C., in 1969 that within 20 years

116 Compton-Burnett, Ivy

the human life span might reach 120 years. Com-

household, where a family’s secrets and cruelties

fort died at age 80. His obituary in the Guardian

are revealed in measured, decorous language.

newspaper called him “a dazzling intellectual

Novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson wrote that

whose prolific output of novels, poetry, and phi-

Compton-Burnett’s “piercingly wise, discreet,

losophy remains overshadowed by a sex manual.”

mannered Victoriana conceals abysses of the

human personality . . . a gentle tea-cosy madness,

a coil of vipers in a sewing-basket.”

Compton-Burnett, Ivy (1884–1969)

Compton-Burnett is famous for her dialogue,


which fills the bulk of her novels; she gives little

Ivy Compton-Burnett was born in Middlesex,

space to descriptions of the characters or their

England, to James Compton-Burnett, a homeo-

unspoken thoughts. The critic Kathleen Wheeler

pathic doctor, and his second wife, Katherine

writes, “Compton-Burnett’s emphasis upon dia-

Compton-Burnett. She had 11 siblings and step-

logue in most of the novels virtually creates a

siblings. Educated at home by a tutor, she even-

new genre of novel, the novel-play.” Bitter, witty,

tually attended the University of London, from

and insightful, Compton-Burnett’s dialogue is

which she received a degree in classics in 1902.

instantly recognizable, in part because it is often

Compton-Burnett’s father died in 1901, and

strangely mannered and artificial. For example,

her beloved younger brother Guy died four years

Rosebery in Mother and Son (1955) declares,

later. When her mother died in 1911, Compton-

“As I am accused of giving preference to women

Burnett became head of the household, but there

. . . I will deserve the reputation and indulge the

was much domestic conflict. World War I brought

propensity.” As well as making deft barbs, the

much grief, and by its end she had lost her job, her

dialogue also often leaps from point to point in

home, and her closest friends. Her brother Noel

unaffected tangents. Reviewer W. G. Rogers notes

was killed in France in 1916, two of her sisters

that Compton-Burnett “fills her matchless dia-

committed suicide in 1917, and Compton- Burnett

logue with utterly unpredictable remarks, she flits

herself nearly died of influenza after the war.

from sense to nonsense, she swings you around

Happiness finally came during the period from

and around until, helpless and happy, you hope

1919 to 1951, when she lived with the historian

she’ll never let go.”

Margaret Jourdain.

Compton-Burnett’s novels are frequently

Compton-Burnett’s first novel, Dolores (1911),

comic. Characters are shockingly candid about

is a weak tale about a self-sacrificing heroine.

disliking each other, being pretentious, wanting

The author dismissed this work as an apprentice

to be selfish, and having no sense of meaning

piece and never listed it among her publications.

in their life. Her brand of comedy is dark and,

Her second novel, however, Pastors and Masters

to some critics, disturbing. The reviewer for the

(1925), received more critical approval. Set in a

Church Times, for example, said of her novel A

boy’s boarding school, it describes inept teach-

House and its Head (1935): “It is as if one’s next

ers haranguing students, ingratiating themselves

door neighbour leaned over the garden wall, and

with parents, and mocking one another. Much of

remarked, in the same breath and chatty tone, that

the dialogue is cynical: “ ‘The sight of duty does

he had mown the lawn in the morning and thrust

make one shiver,’ said Miss Herrick. ‘The actual

the wife’s head in the gas-oven after lunch.”

doing of it would kill one, I think.’ ”

Bul ivant and the Lambs (1947) (published

Compton-Burnett’s third novel, Brothers and

in Britain as Manservant and Maidservant) was

Sisters (1929), draws heavily on her own life and

one of Compton-Burnett’s favorite novels. In this

introduces many features found in her later nov-

work, a domineering father, Horace Lamb, terror-

els. It is set in the close confines of a late-Victorian

izes his children and wife but suddenly undergoes

Connolly, Cyril 117

a change of heart and becomes kind and well-

constantly but also obsess over their talk: its

meaning. None of his family believe the transfor-

import, variations, and shortcomings. In a time

mation, and complications ensue. The book has

when modernist writers were largely busy explor-

been praised for the way it juxtaposes the world

ing personal subjectivity, Compton-Burnett’s

of the upper-class family with the world of their

focus on interpersonal dynamics and the mean-


ing of individual utterances set her apart from her

Similar conflicts occur in Mother and Son


(1955), which describes an unpleasant, control-

Much of her material can be traced to auto-

ling, upper-class woman, Miranda, who seeks a

biographical sources. The Victorian household

paid woman companion to follow her every whim:

of her early life teemed with servants, cooks,

“I want someone who will adapt herself to me and

maids, and 12 siblings, and her jealous, socially

accept my words and ways.” The novel exposes

competitive mother maintained a pervasive ten-

the tensions within the family and the strangely

sion within the family dynamic. In her novels,

intense bond between Miranda and her son Rose-

Compton-Burnett was able to turn this child-

bery. Rosebery asserts that he is “faithful to the

hood inside out, giving voice to the pitched anxi-

one woman, and that the one who fills the earliest

ety and desperation hidden within the apparent

memories.” Mother and Son won the James Tait

ease of high society.

Black Memorial Prize.

However, her novels are somewhat predict-

Compton-Burnett wrote 20 novels. Although

able in their melodrama, as well as in the kinds

they have never been best sellers, they have always

and intensity of suffering experienced by her

been recognized for their extraordinary original-

characters. Their settings, usually isolated coun-

ity. Writer Storm Jameson noted that the novels

try houses, also dated her work quickly as the

appeal because of their “repetition of one and the

physical and cultural landscapes of Britain were

same human situation, an acting-out of the pow-

transformed by World War II and its aftermath.

erful impulses that run counter to an accepted

Today her work is relatively neglected, although

social morality—brutal truth-telling, repressed

several studies have attempted to resituate her

family hatreds and loves.” In Jameson’s terms,

work within the larger tradition of the domestic

Compton-Burnett’s cynical novels offer a “ritual


purgation in a modern idiom.”

Other Works by Ivy Compton-Burnett

Critical Analysis

A God and His Gifts. New York: Simon & Schuster,

During her lifetime, Ivy Compton-Burnett’s


dark and witty novels about the hidden aspects

The Last and the First. New York: Knopf, 1971.

of upper middle class life were highly regarded.

Her fictional families, while maintaining the

A Work about Ivy Compton-Burnett

finest of public faces, are plagued by sexual per-

Spurling, Hilary. Ivy: The Life of I. Compton-Burnett.

version, sadistic dominance games, emotional

New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

abuse, fraud, and even murder. Her style is most

striking for its near total lack of characterization

and description. Instead, her books proceed via

Connolly, Cyril (1903–1974) essayist

elaborately stylized conversations among princi-

Cyril Connolly was born in Whitley, England.

pal characters.

His father, Matthew, was an army officer, and

Indeed, talk quite nearly takes the place of

his mother, Muriel Maud, came from an affluent

plot in Compton-Burnett’s brittle tales of the

Anglo-Irish family. In 1914 Connolly enrolled at

Edwardian gentry. Her characters not only talk

St. Cyprian’s, a prominent preparatory school.

118 Conquest, Robert

From there, he gained admission to Eton, the

Conquest, Robert (George Robert

leading British private school. At Eton he devel-

Acworth Conquest) (1917– ) poet, editor,

oped a deep love for Latin poetry and was inspired


to write his “Theory of Permanent Adolescence,”

Robert Conquest was born in Malvern, England,

which argues that the intensity of one’s school

to Robert Folger Westcott Conquest and Rosa-

experiences stunts any future development.

mund Acworth Conquest. His British upbring-

After earning a history degree at Oxford in

ing and education at Oxford influenced his

1925, Connolly served as secretary to the wealthy

philosophy of poetry. This included an aversion

American writer and expatriate Logan Pearsall

to mystical and deliberately obscure imagery and

Smith. Through Smith, Connolly was introduced

language, which he regarded as inappropriate

to British literary society, and in 1927 he began

for English poetry. He edited the anthology New

writing reviews for the New Statesman. In these

Lines (1956), in which he wrote, “The debilitating

reviews and in subsequent work, he explored

theory that poetry must be metaphorical gained

18th-century fiction; 20th-century modernists

wide acceptance. Poets were encouraged to pro-

including James Joyce and Marcel Proust; and

duce diffuse and sentimental verbiage, or hollow

turn-of-the-century Decadents, such as Oscar

technical pirouettes.” Critics credit Conquest’s

Wilde and Charles Baudelaire.

New Lines anthology with creating the loose affil-

Connolly collected many of his early essays in

iation of important midcentury poets known as

The Condemned Playground (1945). Overall, these

the Movement.

essays produce a nostalgic effect and suggest that

Another manifestation of Conquest’s anti-

a time of cultural achievement has passed. Con-

modernist views was his decision to edit a series

nolly’s nostalgia is also coupled with his remorse

of science-fiction anthologies with his avowedly

at his failed attempts to be a fiction writer. The

“philistine” friend Kingsley Amis, entitled Spec-

economic recession and social unrest of recon-

trum (1961–66). In addition to various literary,

struction after World War II troubled him, and he

political, and educational societies and maga-

believed that gifted, lonely artists willing to defy

zines, he became a leading member of the British

accepted conventions would disappear.

Interplanetary Society.

Connolly edited the magazine Horizon from

Conquest shared Amis’s conservative political

1940 to 1950. By the time of his final publication,

leanings, and while working as a British diplomat

The Evening Colonnade (1973), his interests had

he began writing several books on Soviet history

expanded to include art and the natural world of

that were highly critical of communism. These

geology and animal life. But Connolly remains

included Power and Policy in the U.S.S.R. (1967)

best known for his literary essays that contain

and Harvest of Sorrow (1986), about the mass

a passion for a skill he could never master. The

starvation caused by the collectivization of farm-

biographer Jeremy Lewis indicates that “his entire

ing in Ukraine under Stalin.

output might well be regarded as an extended

Conquest combined his interests in poetry

meditation, essentially autobiographical, on the

and Russia with the collection Back to Life: Poems

problems of being a writer.”

from Behind the Iron Curtain (1958). His book

Reflections on a Ravaged Century (1999) fused

Another Work by Cyril Connolly

his interests in technology, totalitarianism, and

Enemies of Promise. New York: Persea Books, 1983.

the virtues of clear, simple language by arguing

that 20th-century intellectuals had fallen for

A Work about Cyril Connolly

profound-sounding but authoritarian ideas, in

Lewis, Jeremy. Cyril Connol y: A Life. 1938. Reprint,

part because the ideas seemed forward-looking

North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square, 1998.

and modern. Princeton political scientist Aaron

Conrad, Joseph 119

Friedberg says that Conquest’s history books

In 1878, at age 21, Conrad joined the English

make him “the West’s leading chronicler of its

merchant marine. For the next 20 years he made

[communism’s] crimes.”

numerous voyages, mostly to Asia and also to

India, Malaysia, Australia, and South Africa.

Another Work by Robert Conquest

Conrad acquired his master’s certificate in 1886

The Great Terror: A Reassessment. New York: Ox-

and captained his first ship in 1888. In 1890 he

ford University Press, 1990.

made a fateful voyage up the Congo. His diary

of this journey furnished material for his novella

Heart of Darkness (1902). Though he spent less

Conrad, Joseph (Josef Teodor Konrad

than six months in Africa, Conrad’s experience in

Nalecz Korzeniowski) (1857–1924)

the Congo made an indelible impression on him


and wrecked his health. Partly due to ill health,

Joseph Conrad led three separate and distinct

he abandoned the sea in 1894. Two years later,

lives: his youth in Poland (1857–73); his life at sea

he married Jessie George and settled in Kent; the

(1874–94); and his life as a writer (1895–1924),

couple had two sons. In 1895 Conrad published

wherein he drew upon the hoard of his physical

his first book, Almayer’s Fol y, the story of a

and mental voyages to create his fictions. Born

Dutchman’s failed ambitions in Malaysia, which

in Berdichev in Polish Ukraine, Conrad was the

took five years to write.

only son of Apollo Korzeniowski and Evelina

Conrad’s decision to write in English was an

Bobrowska. (The Poland of that time was not a

extraordinary but deliberate one. When he first

nation-state, but partitioned among the powers of

sailed on a British ship, he spoke little English,

Russia, Germany, and Austria.) His father, a poet,

though according to his autobiography, A Per-

translator, and patriot, was exiled with his fam-

sonal Record (1912), he had been reading the

ily to Vologda in northern Russia when Conrad

language since childhood. Because of his tem-

was five. The harsh environment broke both par-

perament (he loved to excel at difficult tasks),

ents’ health, and Conrad was orphaned at 11. His

but also because English was an adopted tongue,

maternal uncle, the lawyer Tadeusz Bobrowski,

writing was exceedingly arduous for him, despite

then assumed his guardianship, and he was edu-

his assertion that “it was I who was adopted by

cated by a tutor and at schools in Cracow, Poland.

the genius of the language . . .” Conrad’s works

At 14 Conrad determined to go to sea, in part

are artistic masterpieces, shaped and constructed

motivated by the nautical novels of Frederick

with extreme care, every word chosen as carefully

Marryat, but also to escape Poland and the loss

as though he were writing poetry. As he observes

of his parents. At 17 the young Pole, who spoke

in his preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897),

fluent French and Russian but virtually no En-

“Any work that aspires . . . to the condition of art

glish, arrived in Marseilles. He sailed on several

should carry its justification in every line.”

French ships to the West Indies before reportedly

Conrad’s major works were composed between

becoming involved in smuggling (possibly gun-

1897 and 1911, a dozen years that saw the pub-

running for the Spanish Carlist cause), an episode

lication of The Nigger of the Narcissus, Lord Jim

that appears to have ended in shipwreck. In 1877

(1900), Heart of Darkness (1902), Typhoon (1903),

Conrad was wounded, the result of either a duel

Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), and

over a woman or a suicide attempt after losing all

Under Western Eyes (1911). In all these novels

his money at gambling. It is difficult to establish

characters are placed in extreme situations that

the facts from the highly colored versions in the

reveal their strengths and weaknesses. His other

autobiographical The Mirror of the Sea (1906) and

work, though of interest, has not had the impact

the novel The Arrow of Gold (1919).

of these. One of his minor novels was Romance

120 Conrad, Joseph

(1903), a collaboration with Ford Madox Ford

low visits Brussels, a city presented as a “whited

detailing the Caribbean adventures of a young

sepulchre,” to ask his aunt’s help in securing


command of a steamship to sail up the Congo.

The journey itself develops in three stages, fore-

Critical Analysis

shadowed by a series of omens and marked by

Two of Conrad’s most characteristic works are

Marlow’s reaching, successively, the Outer, Cen-

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. Both

tral, and Inner trading stations. Everything in the

novellas seamlessly blend physical voyages with

story is both its physical self and a symbol. Thus,

journeys into the depths of the human mind.

the women in the Brussels office resemble the

Both concern a character’s confrontation with his

Greek goddesses of fate knitting human destiny.

inner or other self. In Heart of Darkness Marlow,

Kurtz himself resembles nothing so much as a

an Englishman who appears in several of Con-

skeleton made of the ivory to which he has sacri-

rad’s novels, emerges out of a narrative frame as

ficed al his ideals. Above al , the land and ocean,

the author’s representative, testifying to the truth

wilderness and river, are presented in constant

of this horrifying story of European smash-and-

chiaroscuro, alternating light and darkness, and

grab raids on the African continent.

frenetic movement, followed by complete still-

Conrad’s narrators and protagonists are often

ness, suggestive of life and death.

doubles: The ostensible hero is confronted by

The Secret Sharer also seamlessly fuses a sea

someone who is his seeming opposite and who

voyage entailing both physical and psychic

acts as accomplice, witness, and judge. Thus

adventure. The young captain in his first com-

Marlow confronts, bears witness to, and judges

mand confesses to feeling a stranger to himself

Kurtz, once an emissary of enlightenment, who

and his ship when the ship’s ladder, unwittingly

turns out to be hollow and succumbs to his worst

left dangling overboard, is grabbed by a stranger

instincts. Similarly, in Lord Jim, Marlow con-

whom the captain allows to board the ship and

fronts a younger, “failed” self in the title charac-

for whom he feels an instinctive sympathy. It

ter, or, as the untried captain of The Secret Sharer,

turns out that the stranger, Leggatt, mate on

confronts the outlaw Leggatt (a legate, or envoy,

the Sephora, has killed a man who refused an

from his subconscious) as his alter ego.

order while a storm raged and a sail had to be

Not only are characters thus doubles, or dop-

set. Though the captain and his “secret sharer”

pelgängers, but so are moral values. Conrad him-

resemble each other in age and appearance, they

self held to two conflicting codes: the work ethic

are not alike in character, which is the point. A

of the mariner’s code embodied in Marlow, and

psychological exchange or transfer of personal-

the need to identify with outlaws and outcasts

ity takes place between them when the captain

(possibly part of his familial Polish past).

allows Leggatt to escape by going overboard. In

Perhaps Conrad’s most symbolic work is

the process he runs his ship so close to land that

Heart of Darkness. In addition to the physical

he risks it, crew, indeed everything he holds dear

voyage up the Congo, to discover the fate of

to enable his other self to go free.

Kurtz, a European trader, the novel is a journey

Although Conrad was originally dismissed as

back to the beginnings of time and a descent

a spinner of nautical tales and exotic romances,

into the unconscious. This story of penetration

he was an artful storyteller. His reputation grew

into the heart of darkness begins on a vessel

posthumously, assuring his place in the pantheon

awaiting the turn of the tide on the Thames. In

of the 20th century’s greatest writers.

the opening and closing paragraphs, London’s

Conrad died of a heart attack in Bishops-

historic waterway merges with the Congo, both

bourne, Kent, and is buried in St. Thomas’s, Can-

rivers having launched colonial enterprises. Mar-

terbury, under an epitaph from Edmund Spenser

Cope, Wendy 121

that he chose for himself: “Sleep after toil, port

Cope, Wendy (1945– ) poet

after stormy seas . . .”

Wendy Cope was born in Erith, Kent, England,

to Fred Stanley Cope and Alice Mary Hand, both

Works about Joseph Conrad

of whom were company directors. Cope attended

Karl, Frederick R. A Reader’s Guide to Joseph Con-

private schools before enrolling at Oxford to study

rad. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press,

history. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1966,


she taught in London primary schools, becoming

Meyers, Jeffrey. Joseph Conrad: A Biography. New

a deputy headmistress in 1980. Cope later was

York: Cooper Square Press, 2001.

an arts and review editor for Contact, a teachers’

Sherry, Norman. Conrad: The Critical Heritage.

magazine, and from 1986 to 1990 she was a televi-

London: Routledge, 1997.

sion critic for the Spectator, a journal that reviews

Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. Berke-

politics and culture.

ley: University of California Press, 1981.

Cope’s poetry collection Making Cocoa For

Kingsley Amis (1986) parodied many famous

poets, including T. S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, and

Cooper, William (Harry Summerfield Hoff)

Seamus Heaney. In the poem “Waste Land Lim-

(1910–2002) novelist

ericks” Cope reduced Eliot’s most famous work to

Born Harry Summerfield Hoff in Crewe and edu-

five limericks, starting the last section with “No

cated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, William

water. Dry rocks and dry throats, / Then thunder,

Cooper was a physics teacher. He served in the

a shower of quotes.” In addition to parodies, the

Royal Air Force during World War II and in 1945

collection also contains personal love poems. In

entered the civil service. He became the person-

“Message” Cope describes the frustration of wait-

nel consultant to the Atomic Energy Research

ing for a potential boyfriend to make the first

Authority in 1958. He published four novels under

move and call: “But one more day is more than

the name Hoff before his fifth one, under the Coo-

I can bear - / Love is already turning into hate.”

per pseudonym, brought him recognition.

Kingsley Amis joined many critics in praising

Narrated by the young, lower-middle-class

the volume that bore his name.

schoolteacher Joe Lunn, Scenes from Provincial

In 1991 Cope published The River Girl, a long

Life (1950) is Cooper’s most important work.

narrative poem that explores a love affair between

Praised for its sardonic comedy and artful real-

a goddess and a young poet. Her collection Serious

ism, it influenced younger novelists of the 1950s,

Concerns (1992) marked a return to the style that

including Kingsley Amis, John Braine, and

made her famous with its mixture of parodies and

Stan Barstow, as well as the Angry Young Man

humorous, though sometimes anguished, love

genre of novel. Three sequels continued the story

poems. Although regarded as a talented writer

of Joe Lunn, one of which, Scenes from Metropoli-

of light poetry, Cope resists being categorized: “I

tan Life, was written in 1951 but was suppressed

dislike the term ‘light verse’ because it is used as

for many years because of the threat of libel.

a way of dismissing poets who allow humor into

Cooper is known not only for the literary merit

their work. I believe that a humorous poem can

of his works but also for their contribution to the

also be ‘serious.’ ” Her poems display craftsman-

new realism school of British fiction. He also

ship and also cover serious issues such as suicide.

wrote From Early Life (1990), a memoir.

Cope has received several honors, including the

British Society of Authors’ Cholmondeley Award

Other Works by William Cooper

in 1987. In addition to poetry, she has written a

Disquiet and Peace. London: Macmillan, 1956.

children’s book, Twiddling Your Thumbs (1988),

Young People. London: Macmillan, 1958.

and edited an anthology of poems by women.

122 Coppard, Alfred Edgar

Reviewer George Szirtes writes, “Wendy Cope is

ated with Mary, a girl on his route. When the girl’s

a sensible and witty poet. That is, I suppose, one

mother offers Harvey Mary’s hand in marriage as

reason why people who don’t necessarily like

well as a small fortune, Harvey becomes suspi-

poetry, like her.”

cious and confused. His obsession over his almost

self-imposed dilemma makes him the type of odd

Other Works by Wendy Cope

character for which Coppard routinely showed a

Does She Like Word-Games? London: Anvil Press,

deep compassion. “The Higgler” is one of his most


popular stories.

If I Don’t Know. London: Faber and Faber, 2001.

In addition to his many collections, Coppard

also began work on his autobiography. The first

volume of this work, It’s Me, O Lord, was pub-

Coppard, Alfred Edgar (1878–1957) short

lished after his death in 1957. His legacy lives on

story writer, poet

in the A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, awarded to

A. E. Coppard was born in Folkestone, England,

longer short stories that have trouble getting pub-

the son of a tailor. He attended school in Fol-

lished due to their length. The award is named for

kestone and Brighton but had to leave when he

Coppard because his first short story was rejected

was nine due to poor health. He later moved to

for publication for its 12,000-word length.

Whitechapel and held a variety of jobs including

tailor’s apprentice, paraffin vendor’s assistant,

Another Work by A. E. Coppard

auctioneer, and cheesemonger. He supplemented

Col ected Tales of A. E. Coppard. North Stratford, N.

his meager earnings from these jobs with prize

H.: Ayer, 1976.

money won in athletic competitions.

In 1919 Coppard began writing full time; he

published his first collection of short stories,

Cornwell, David John Moore

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, in 1921. The collec-

See le Carré, John.

tion was a huge success and established Coppard’s

name in the literary world. The next year he pub-

lished his first collection of poetry, Hips and Haws

Coward, Noël (1899–1973) playwright,

(1922), and for the next 30 years he published

lyricist, novelist, poet, screenwriter, memoirist

almost a book a year. His short story collections

A quintessential man of the theater whose public

include Fishmonger’s Fiddle (1925), Silver Circus

image was that of the suave, sophisticated, upper

(1928), and Fearful Pleasures (1946). Among his

class, Noël Coward was born into the lower-mid-

poetry collections are Yokohama Garland (1926)

dle-class family of Arthur Sabin and Violet Veitch

and Cherry Ripe (1935).

Coward in Teddington, a suburb of London. His

Coppard saw his writing as part of the tradi-

father was a piano salesman, and the family’s main

tion of ballads and folklore. Many of his stories,

distinction was its overwhelming musicality.

which range from romance to horror, take place

The young Noël Coward first acted on stage

in the vividly described English countryside and

in 1911 and continued to work on the stage or in

feature characters who are brought to life through

films and television for the next 56 years as actor,

their rural dialects, as in “Thunder p’raps, but

director, writer, singer, pianist, and producer. He

’twill clear; ’tis only de pride o’ der morning.”

wrote musicals, serious drama, comedies, film

The protagonist of “The Higgler” is a typical

and television scripts, poems, a novel, parodies,

Coppard character: a well-intentioned misfit who

and his autobiography, but as one of his biogra-

struggles to make his way in the world. Harvey

phers wrote, his “greatest achievement was the

Witlow is a salesman who becomes deeply infatu-

creation and refinement of his own persona, the

Coward, Noël 123

witty, charming sophisticate with an elegant dis-

ing spontaneity of the chatter has been attained

dain for the crude world of ordinary life.”

by the most industrious stage-craft and a remark-

Coward’s first major success was a serious

able sense of timing and of tone.”

play, The Vortex (1924), in which the playwright

In the 1930s Coward wrote a series of successful

himself played the lead role of Nicky Lancaster, a

plays, such as Design for Living (1933), about a love

young man whose mother is having an affair with

triangle involving an interior designer, a painter,

someone his own age. A success in both London

and a playwright; and Tonight at 8:30 (1935), a

and New York, this play was, as critic Milton

series of one-act plays that included Still Life, set

Levin wrote, “a mixture of Ibsen and Maugham

in the refreshment room of a train station.

[and] has also a strong suggestion of Hamlet in

In 1941 Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit was

the play’s ancestry.” Coward’s next play, Hay

produced. Critic John Gassner called this play

Fever (1925), involves the argumentative Bliss

“a tour de force of fancy in which Coward also

family. Each family member has, unbeknownst to

displays the cutting edge of his wit.” The plot

the others, invited an overnight guest at the same

involves one of Coward’s best creations, Madame

time. The play involves various pairings off until

Arcati, a medium whom a mystery writer, Charles

the constant bickering among the family mem-

Condomine, invites to his home as research for

bers drives the guests away; the family, intent on

a novel. With the help of a maid with psychic

arguing with one another at the breakfast table,

powers, Arcati manages to call up the spirits of

are unaware of their guests’ departure. The melo-

Charles’s two late wives, who continue to battle as

dramatic Mrs. Bliss, a former actress, is one of the

Charles makes his exit.

play’s most memorable characters: “I wanted a

In 1960 Coward published his only novel,

nice restful week-end, with moments of Sandy’s

Pomp and Circumstance, a comic tale set on the

ingenuous affection to warm the cockles of my

island of Samola. He also brought out two col-

heart when I felt in the mood, and now the house

lections of short stories in the 1960s, along with

is going to be full of discord—not enough food,

a book of verse in 1967, Not Yet the Dodo. He

every one fighting for the bath,—perfect agony! I

published two autobiographies, Present Indica-

wish I were dead!”

tive (1937) and Future Indefinite (1954), and was

Never one to slavishly repeat his successes,

engaged in writing a further volume, Past Condi-

Coward a few years later turned to musical com-

tional, when he died. He was knighted in 1970.

edy with what he called an “operette,” Bitter Sweet

Coward’s plays have always been favorites with

(1929). Although Bitter Sweet was a huge success,

audiences, but in recent years they have become

Coward topped it the next year with a play he

scholarly favorites as well: “Noël Coward, some

wrote for himself and the noted actress Gertrude

quarter-century after his death, [has] become a

Lawrence, Private Lives. Coward and Lawrence

subject for serious debate,” declared the orga-

played Elyot and Amanda, a divorced couple, each

nizer of the first Coward conference in 1999.

of whom has remarried. They meet again on their

respective honeymoons at the same Riviera hotel,

Another Work by Noël Coward

succumb to mutual attraction, and run away to

The Col ected Plays of Noël Coward. London:

Paris together. When their spouses follow them

Methuen, 2000.

to Paris, all four characters attack one another in

turn. At first glance the plot seems flimsy, hardly

Works about Noël Coward

enough for even one act, but reviewers saw “. . . a

Kaplan, Joel, and Sheila Stowell, eds. Look Back in

species of magic . . . Mr. Coward has exactly the

Pleasure: Noël Coward Reconsidered. London:

right effrontery for a first-rate conjurer . . . [and

Methuen, 2000.

he] is a first rate artist of the theatre. . . . The seem-

Levin, Milton. Noël Coward. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

124 Cowper, Richard

Mander, Raymond, and Joe Mitchenson. Theatrical

religion whose followers could attract sympathy

Companion to Coward. New York: Theatre Com-

and admiration.”

munications, 2000.

In assessing Cowper’s literary achievement,

the critic John Clute compares him to H. G.

Wells, whose work also projected a profound

Cowper, Richard (John Middleton Murry

fear of Britain’s ultimate destruction sometime

Jr.) (1926–2002) novelist

in the future. In Clute’s words, “Almost all of

Richard Cowper is the pseudonym for John Mid-

Cowper’s novels make conscious elegiac play on

dleton Murry Jr., the son and namesake of the

the beleaguered island that Wells, too, despaired

prominent literary critic John Middleton Murry

of before his death. . . . There is a sense that Cow-

and his second wife, Violet le Maistre. Born in

per writes about England in order that we may

Bridport, Dorsetshire, England, Cowper received

remember it, after it disappears for good. This

a B.A. from Oxford, served in the Royal Navy,

note, whenever he strikes it, makes his work

and taught English at several British universities.

compulsive reading.”

After 1970 he supported himself as a writer of sci-

ence fiction novels, with a few forays into other

Another Work by Richard Cowper


Clone. New York: Pocket Books, 1979.

Cowper’s first major novel was The Twilight

of Briareus (1974), in which a celestial supernova

irradiates Earth, causing mass infertility and

Crisp, Quentin (Denis Charles Pratt)

granting some people, called Zetas, strange hallu-

(1908–1999) nonfiction writer

cinatory powers. As the novel unfolds, it becomes

From an early age Quentin Crisp was openly and

clear that the Zetas are capable of contacting the

flamboyantly gay at a time when few others dared

alien life forms that caused the supernova and

be so. Born Denis Charles Pratt in South Wimble-

possibly saving humanity from extinction.

don, Surrey, England, he was the son of a solicitor

One of Cowper’s most highly praised novels is

and a nursery governess, whom he described as

The Road to Corlay (1978), which was nominated

“middle-class, middle-brow, middling.” Educated

for the British Fantasy Award in 1979. The novel

at a preparatory school in Derbyshire, he was a

is based on an earlier short story, “The Piper at

journalism student, art student, engineer’s assis-

the Gates of Dawn,” which sets the stage: England

tant, commercial artist, and tap-dancing teacher

in 2999, after the melting of the polar ice caps.

before being exempted from military service

Its central character, a 13-year-old flutist named

because of his homosexuality.

Thomas, proclaims a new religion called the creed

A job as a nude art model during World War

of kinship and inspires followers with his music.

II became the basis for Crisp’s autobiographical

In the novel, Britain is ruled by a harsh, dictatorial

book The Naked Civil Servant (1968), which led

church that tries desperately to suppress Thomas’s

to a series of articles and one-man stage shows

new religion. The church eventually kills Thomas,

about style and manners. Crisp was notoriously

but not the creed of kinship. As Cowper explains

witty and polite, even asking callers who made

in the novel, “the spirit of the Boy had refused to

death threats whether they would care to make an

be shackled . . . the spark of the Boy’s faith had

appointment. At the same time he affected great

flown out along the highways of the Kingdoms

cynicism—joking, for instance, that he had no

starting hungry fire in the dry kindling of men’s

fondness for nature and looked forward to the day

hearts.” The critic Duncan Lunan finds the novel

when the entire Earth would be covered in a uni-

remarkable for Cowper’s success “in the extraor-

form concrete slab. He wrote in The Naked Civil

dinary task of portraying a convincing alternative

Servant that in his London apartment, “There was

Crispin, Edmund 125

no need to do any housework at all. After the first

Crispin was the son of Robert Ernest Montgom-

four years, the dust doesn’t get any worse.”

ery, a government official, and Marion Blackwood

Crisp was sometimes at odds with the gay

Jarvie Montgomery. He turned to writing and

activists of the 1960s and later decades because

music when ankle problems kept him from play-

he believed that dressing like a dandy was a more

ing sports.

fitting expression of homosexuality than political

After a fellow student at Oxford recom-

activism. To Crisp, having come of age at a time

mended that he read a locked room mystery by

when homosexual acts were a criminal offense,

the American author John Dickson Carr, Crispin

dandyism was a courageous pose. Some later gay

wrote his first mystery novel, The Case of the

activists, however, saw his appearance as debase-

Gilded Fly (1944), published under the pseud-

ment and self-parody. Crisp explained his phi-

onym Edmund Crispin. This novel introduces

losophy in such books as How to Have a Life-Style

Gervase Fen, a tall, eccentric Oxford En glish

(1979), Doing It With Style (1981), and Manners: A

professor with great energy, varied interests,

Divine Guide to Good Manners (1984).

and an intuitive ability to solve “impossible”

Crisp’s final two decades were spent on the

murders. Fen’s career as an amateur detective

Lower East Side of New York City, where he lived

begins when the body of a disagreeable actress

as though he were impoverished, despite his sub-

is left at his door.

stantial savings. He accepted lunch invitations

Fen becomes addicted to solving crimes, pur-

from virtually anyone who asked so long as he

suing murderers through eight more classic mys-

did not have to pay. He wrote of those years in

teries. With Crispin’s characteristic irony, Fen

Resident Alien: The New York Diaries (1996).

seems to be aware that he is a character, describ-

Crisp died of a heart attack on a trip to England

ing himself as “the only literary critic turned

as he prepared to tour the country in another one-

detective in fiction.”

man show. Critic Donald Carroll, in his introduc-

Crispin’s last novel, The Glimpses of the Moon

tion to Resident Alien, noted that because of his wit,

(1977), was published after a long break from

Crisp was “often spoken of as the Oscar Wilde” of

novel writing, during which Crispin wrote choral

our day. “He had an influence on the young people

music, requiem masses, and film scores under his

in England,” said linguist Donald Philippi, and he

given name. He also established a reputation as

helped inspire the “gender ambiguity in the New

a literary critic and edited several distinguished

Romantic [fashion and music] movement.”

science-fiction anthologies, such as his seven-vol-

ume Best SF (1956–70), helping to make that field

Other Works by Quentin Crisp

a respected genre.

How to Become a Virgin. New York: St. Martin’s

In his own work Crispin wrote that he tried

Press, 1981.

to “embody the nowadays increasingly neglected

How to Go to the Movies. New York: St. Martin’s

principle of fair play to the reader—which is to

Press, 1989.

say that the reader is given all the clues needed

The Wit and Wisdom of Quentin Crisp. New York:

to enable him to anticipate the solution by the

Harper & Row, 1984.

exercises of his logic and his common sense.”

And indeed, although his early works were

criticized for poorly constructed plots, he

Crispin, Edmund (Robert Bruce

became known for playing fair with his readers.

Montgomery) (1921–1978) novelist,

Crispin’s mysteries also possessed a comic style.


Critic Michael Dirda attributes the “distinctive

Born in Chesterham Bois, Buckinghamshire,

flavor of a Crispin novel” to “hilarious similes,

England, as Robert Bruce Montgomery, Edmund

broad farcical situations, funny names, puns,

126 Curtin, Philip

unexpected actions or statements, humorous

Another Work by Edmund Crispin

characters, zany games, utterly inappropriate

The Moving Toy Shop. 1946. Reprint, New York:

behavior, and tongue-in-cheek diction.” While

Penguin, 1993.

other mystery writers have become dated, Dirda

believes Crispin’s “civilized and compassionate

comedy” ensures that he “will always merit a

Curtin, Philip

high place in the field.”

See Belloc Lowndes, Marie.



D’Aguiar, Fred (1960– ) poet, novelist,

Both Mama Dot and Airy Hal are divided


into three sections and deal with D’Aguiar’s life

Fred D’Aguiar was born on February 2, 1960, in

in Guyana. In the former, he creates a compos-

London. Before he turned two, his parents, Mal-

ite, half mythical mother figure Mama Dot out of

colm Frederick D’Aguiar and Kathleen Agatha

both his grandmothers and the Afro-Caribbean

Messiah, both recent immigrants, sent him and

traditions of his ancestry, while confronting the

his older brother to be raised by their grandmother

harsh economic and political realities of postco-

Mama Dot in Guyana. They grew up in a large,

lonial Guyana. Both collections have been praised

lively house called Airy Hall outside of George-

for their humor, sense of irony, and original

town, and D’Aguiar returned to England when he

voice. His third poetry collection, British Subjects

was 12. He trained to be a psychiatric nurse, then

(1993), focuses on his experiences in London, par-

attended the University of Kent, Canterbury, in

ticularly his ambivalent relationship with black

African and Caribbean studies. After graduating,

communities there; his Guyanese identity sets

he held a number of distinguished fellowships at

him apart from them in important linguistic and

Cambridge University, Amherst College, and Lon-

cultural ways.

don Borough of Lewisham, among others.

D’Aguiar published his first play, High Life, in

D’Aguiar published his first book, Mama Dot,

1987, followed by A Jamaican Airman Foresees His

in 1985; it won the Malcolm X Prize for Poetry.

Death in 1991. He continued to explore the multi-

Together with his second collection, Airy Hal

cultural inheritance of Caribbean societies, includ-

(1989), this book earned him the Guyana Poetry

ing the devastating legacy of slavery, in his novels

Prize. Mama Dot impressed readers with rhythms,

Dear Future (1996) and Feeding the Ghosts (1997)

images, and language from a Caribbean tradition

More recently, D’Aguiar has turned to long

of oral performance that was largely unknown in

narrative poems such as Bill of Rights (1998) and

Britain at the time. It marked D’Aguiar as a strong

Bloodlines (2000) to continue exploring the com-

figure among a generation of Anglophone writ-

plex cultural landscape of Guyana. He has taught

ers with a Caribbean background who greatly

at the University of Miami, Florida, and is cur-

expanded the scope of British literature in the

rently the director of creative writing at Virginia

1980s and 1990s.

Polytechnic Institute and State University.


128 Dahl, Roald

Other Works by Fred D’Aguiar

Yorker. One of his most memorable stories is

Bethany Bettany. London: Chatto & Windus, 2003.

“Taste” (1951), a twisted tale of Michael Schofield,

An English Sampler: New and Selected Poems. Lon-

who nearly loses his daughter in a wine-tasting

don: Chatto & Windus, 2001.

wager. His adversary, Richard Pratt, is vividly

The Longest Memory. London: Chatto & Windus,

described: “The man was about fifty years old and


he did not have a pleasant face. Somehow, it was

all mouth—mouth and lips—the full, wet lips of

Works about Fred D’Aguiar

the professional gourmet, the lower lip hanging

Barker, Jonathan. “D’Aguiar, Fred.” In Contempo-

downward in the center, a pendulous, permanently

rary Poets, 7th ed., edited by Thomas Riggs. De-

open taster’s lip, shaped open to receive the rim of

troit: St. James Press, 2001.

a glass or a morsel of food.” This story and others

Benson, Eugene, and L. W. Conolly, eds. “D’Aguiar,

were collected in Someone Like You (1953). A critic

Fred (1960– ).” Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-

for the New York Times said that Dahl “knows

colonial Literatures in English. London: Rout-

how to blend . . . an antic imagination, an eye for

ledge, 1994.

the anecdotal predicament with a twist at the end,

“D’Aguiar, Fred.” In Dictionary of Literary Biogra-

a savage sense of humor . . . and an economical,

phy, Vol. 157, Twentieth-Century Caribbean and

precise writing style.” The reviewer went on to

Black African Writers, 3rd Series, edited by Ber-

compare Dahl favorably with Saki, O. Henry, Guy

nth Lindfors and Reinhard Sander. Farmington

de Maupassant, and Somerset Maugham.

Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group, 1996.

Throughout the 1950s Dahl wrote other stories

Smith, Jules. “D’Aguiar, Fred.” Contemporary Writ-

that would appear in Kiss Kiss (1960). Two of his

ers Online. British Council Arts. Available online.

best known stories from this period, “The Way


Up to Heaven” and “William and Mary,” deal

authors/?p=auth26. Accessed December 7, 2007.

with tensions between married couples. “The Way

Up to Heaven” deals with a conflict over lateness

between an elderly American couple, the Fosters:

Dahl, Roald (1916–1990) short story writer,

“It is really extraordinary how in certain people a

children’s writer, screenwriter

simple apprehension about a thing like catching a

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales, to

train can grow into a serious obsession.”

Harald Dahl, a Norwegian owner of a successful

“William and Mary” tells a more bizarre story

ship-brokering business headquartered in Car-

of the Pearls. Mrs. Pearl believes that her domi-

diff, and his second wife, Sofie Hesselberg Dahl.

neering husband has died. He has taken part in a

He was educated in a local school, St. Peter’s, and

medical experiment, however, whereby his brain

the Repton boarding school, where he excelled at

and one eyeball remain alive after his body has

athletics. During World War II, he was a Royal Air

died. Mrs. Pearl decides to take her husband’s

Force fighter pilot, and his first published maga-

brain home to restore the balance of power in

zine stories were about those experiences. These

their relationship, taunting him by smoking in

stories were published in the collection Over to

front of him, a habit of which he disapproved:

You (1946). Noël Coward claimed that these

“ ‘So don’t be a naughty boy again, will you, my

stories “pierced the layers of my consciousness

precious,’ she said, taking another pull at the

and stirred up the very deep feelings I had during

cigarette. ‘Naughty boys are liable to get punished

the war and have since, almost deliberately, been

most severely nowadays. . . .’ ” In its review of Kiss

in danger of losing.”

Kiss, the Times Literary Supplement praised Dahl

Dahl began selling his short stories to Ameri-

as “a social satirist and a moralist at work behind

can magazines, including the prestigious New

the entertaining fantast.”

Dane, Clemence 129

Dahl then turned to writing for children. For

Works about Roald Dahl

some time, to entertain his two young daughters,

Talbot, Margaret, “The Candy Man.” New Yorker,

he had made up tales about a little orphan boy,

July 11, 2005.

James, who magically enters a giant peach filled

Treglown, Jeremy. Roald Dahl: A Biography. New

with friendly insects. Dahl turned these stories into

York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994.

James and the Giant Peach (1961). He followed with

West, Mark. Roald Dahl. Boston: Twayne, 1992.

his most famous children’s novel, Charlie and the

Chocolate Factory (1964), which retains the darker

tones of Dahl’s short stories in a work for children.

Dane, Clemence (Winifred Ashton)

A set of children, including the poor boy Charlie,

(1888–1965) novelist, playwright, screenwriter

win a chance to tour Willy Wonka’s candy factory.

Clemence Dane was born Winifred Ashton in

Along the way, the children are punished for their

Blackheath, England, to Arthur Charles Ashton, a

vices, such as excessive television watching and

commission merchant, and Florence Bentley Ash-

greed. When the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde

ton. Her parents sent her to private schools until

swells up to a “gigantic blueberry,” Wonka expresses

age 16. After taking time off from school to teach

little concern for her rescue: “We’ve got to squeeze

French abroad, she went on to study art in London

the juice out of her immediately. After that, we’ll

and Dresden. This decision to study art instead of

just have to see how she comes out.” A reviewer for

following a more conventional path deeply upset

the Times of London called it “the funniest book I

her parents and possibly led her to adopt the pseud-

have read in years,” noting that, despite apparent

onym Clemence Dane in her writing. Between the

debts to Lewis Carroll and Hilaire Belloc, Dahl

world wars she earned a notable reputation as a

was “a great original.”

novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, as well as

Personal tragedy plagued Dahl; his daughter

portraitist, actress, and social critic.

Olivia died suddenly after a short illness, his only

Dane’s writings deal with war, feminism, and

son, Theo, was maimed in a traffic accident, and

sexuality, subjects that sometimes shocked both

his wife, Patricia Neal, suffered a massive stroke

her parents and her middle-class audiences. Her

that left her helpless for several months. Despite

first novel, Regiment of Women (1917), tells the

this, Dahl continued to produce a series of screen-

story of an intimate relationship between two

plays and children’s books. Among the latter are

women teachers at a girls’ school. Other works,

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972), a

such as her 1939 allegorical novel The Arrogant

sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and

History of White Ben, describe the disillusion-

The BFG (1982), about a “Big Friendly Giant.” The

ment caused by World War I and offer bleak pre-

success of his children’s books overshadowed his

dictions for the future.

previous career as a short story writer. Scholar

Dane also wrote scathing social critiques.

Mark West notes, however, continuities between

She began her 1926 feminist work Women’s Side

the two halves of his career: “In almost all of

with the following bold remark: “Here are some

Dahl’s fiction—whether it be intended for chil-

opinions on subjects that concern women. They

dren or for adults—authoritarian figures, social

are offered not as words of wisdom, but as words

institutions, and societal norms are ridiculed or

of provocation.” The book outlines her advanced

at least undermined.”

views on women’s independence and supports

gender-based legal reforms.

Other Works by Roald Dahl

In 1921 she finished her first play, A Bill of

The Best of Roald Dahl. New York: Vintage Books,

Divorcement, which was based on her novel Leg-


end. The play earned praise from both the public

Switch Bitch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974.

and drama critics, who noted her ability to appeal

130 Davie, Donald

“broadly to popular audiences” even on difficult

veterans eventually realize “That what for them

subjects such as contemporary divorce laws in

were agonies, for us / Are high-brow thrillers.”

Britain. She won an Academy Award in 1946 for

Throughout his long academic career, Davie

her screenplay Vacation from Marriage. Despite

published nearly 30 volumes of criticism and

her controversial tone, Dane achieved a signifi-

verse while also editing more than a half dozen

cant following among mainstream audiences.

books about 18th-century poets, including a col-

lection of William Wordsworth’s poetry. His pro-

ductivity and the quality of both his scholarship

Davie, Donald (1922–1995) literary critic,

and writing have prompted the critic Michael


Schmidt to declare him “the defining poet-critic

Donald Davie was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire,

of his generation” and remark that “Donald

England, to George Clarke Davie, a businessman,

Davie’s impact as a critic will prove central and

and Alice Sugden Davie. He earned his B.A., M.A.,

durable; his poems will survive in their formal

and Ph.D. degrees from Cambridge and, except

diversity, their intellectual richness and rigour,

for four years spent in the Royal Navy, worked as

their emotional honesty.”

an academic his entire life. He received numer-

ous awards, including fellowships from the Gug-

Other Works by Donald Davie

genheim Foundation and the American Academy

Older Masters: Essays and Reflections on English and

of Arts and Sciences, and an honorary fellowship

American Literature. New York: Continuum,

from Cambridge.


Davie’s landmark book of literary criticism is

Selected Poems. Manchester, England: Carcanet,

Purity of Diction in English Verse (1952), in which


he argues that poets occupy an extremely impor-

tant societal function as the most elevated users

A Work about Donald Davie

of language in any community. Davie asserts that

Bell, Vereen, and Laurence Lerner, eds. On Modern

poets, as language experts, are responsible “for

Poetry: Essays Presented to Donald Davie. Nash-

purifying and correcting the spoken language.”

ville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1988.

According to Davie, poets can enlarge their lan-

guages by developing new metaphors, but purifi-

cation comes through giving new meaning to old

Davies, P.

or dead metaphors. The keystone, for example, a

See Godden, Rumer.

dead metaphor that has lost its initial meaning as

the stone at the top of an arch, now simply suggests

importance without any reference to an arch.

Davies, Rhys (1901–1978) novelist, short

Davie is also known as a member of the Move-

story writer

ment, a group of like-minded poets in the 1950s

Rhys Davies was born in the mining community

who resisted the appearance of extremely abstract

of Clydach Vale in the Rhondda Valley of Wales.

and nearly incomprehensible poetry, believing

His father, Thomas Rees Davies, was a grocer and

instead that poetry’s content should be rational, its

his mother, Sarah Davies, a former teacher. At 12

form logical, and its language clear. Davie accom-

Davies entered the Porth County School, but after

plishes these goals of clarity and rationality in

discovering such authors as Gustave Flaubert,

the poem “Remembering the Thirties,” in which

Leo Tolstoy, and Anton Chekhov, he developed a

he explains that his generation hears but does not

passion for literature and left school to devote all

fully understand the stories of the previous gener-

of his time to reading. In 1920 Davies moved to

ation. In the clearest of lines, Davie writes that old

London to write professionally.

Davies, Robertson William 131

After gaining recognition as a short story

Davies, Robertson William (1913–1995)

writer, Davies published his first novel, The With-

novelist, playwright, essayist, journalist

ered Root (1927), which tells the story of Reuben

Robertson Davies was born in Thamesville,

Daniels, an alienated preacher in the Rhondda

Ontario, Canada, to a newspaper owner. He

Valley who dies of insanity. Davies’s novels repeat-

received a degree in literature from Oxford Uni-

edly explore the strenuous lives of Welsh miners.

versity in 1938. From a young age he was drawn

Critics praised his blunt, intense depictions of the

to the theater, playing small roles outside London.

Welsh people and landscape, but they also noted

He also acted at the Old Vic Repertory Company

that he imitated the naturalism of D. H. Law-

in London, and in 1940 he married Brenda Mat-

rence and that his characters seemed formulaic.

thews, the company’s stage manager. The couple

(Lawrence had been a key influence on Davies

returned to Canada soon after, and Davies began

since the two established a friendship in Paris in

work as a journalist. He was the editor of the

1928, and Davies even smuggled the manuscript

Peterborough Examiner for 15 years and its pub-

of Lawrence’s Pansies into England to avoid the

lisher from 1955 to 1965.

British censors.)

Davies’s love of theater led him to write many

In 1935 Davies began a trilogy that traces

plays, which he considered comedies rather than

the decline of the Llewellyn family. Originally

tragedies, that criticized Canada’s provincial atti-

wealthy landowners, the family fortune dimin-

tudes. He won the 1948 Dominion Drama Festival

ishes, and they are forced to sell their vast estate

Award for best Canadian play for Eros at Breakfast

to the encroaching mining companies. The new

(1948), which made use of allegory and was more

industrialism destroys the idyllic region and saps

theatrical than realistic. In a similar style, King

the people’s vitality. The third volume of the tril-

Phoenix (1953) is a fantasy based on the mythi-

ogy, Jubilee Blues (1938), is particularly notewor-

cal King Cole, while General Confession (1959) is

thy for the realistic characters that populate the

a historical comedy of ideas with the main char-

vivid settings.

acters serving as Jungian archetypes of self, per-

In 1944 Davies published his most acclaimed

sona, shadow, and anima. These three plays, with

novel, The Black Venus. The book’s heroine,

their elaborate costumes and settings and magic

Olwen Powell, demands the right to choose her

transformations, reveal Davies’s inclination for

own husband and “cast off her chains.” It is sig-

spectacle and extravagance.

nificant because Davies creates a strong female

Although Davies wrote plays, essays, and criti-

protagonist and explores the conflict between

cism, he is best known and admired for his many

Welsh tradition and modern values.

novels. The Salterton Trilogy— Tempest-Tost

In 1967 Davies was made an Officer of the

(1951), Leaven of Malice (1954), and A Mixture of

Order of the British Empire (OBE), and the Welsh

Frailties (1958)—is a social comedy set in a small

Arts Council presented him with an award for his

Ontario university town.

achievements. The critic G. F. Adam has noted that

The novel that begins the Deptford Trilogy,

Davies succeeded when he discovered a “region-

Fifth Business (1970), is widely considered by

alism in the wider sense of the term, where the

most critics to be his finest work, with its blend

Welsh setting remains, but serves as a means to

of myths, magic, freaks, evil, and theatrical ele-

the expression of problems of universally human

ments. It follows a magician whose life is linked to


that of the protagonist, Boy Staunton. The Manti-

core (1972), the second Deptford novel, won the

Another Work by Rhys Davies

prestigious Governor General’s Award for Fiction

The Col ected Short Stories of Rhys Davies. Llandy-

in 1973. The last novel of the trilogy was World of

sul, Wales: Gomer, 1996.

Wonders (1975).

132 Daviot, Gordon

Reviewer S. A. Rowland writes that Davies

the hero, and the trickster, among others. For

“delights in paradox and is himself an example:

Ramsay, Mary Dempster becomes an archetype

among the most innovative of contemporary nov-

of the saint and leads him to a career in hagiog-

elists, he stresses our deep roots in old cultures

raphy, or the study of saints. Another seemingly

and ‘magical’ beliefs.”

minor moment, when Ramsay teaches Mary’s

frail son Paul some card tricks, changes the boy’s

Critical Analysis

life forever as he becomes, eventually, the world’s

Robertson Davies’s novel Fifth Business, the first

greatest magician—and for Ramsay the archetype

volume of the Deptford series, is the story of

of the trickster.

Dunstan Ramsay, a history teacher, who has just

An amazingly erudite and readable work, Fifth

retired from the faculty of a prestigious Cana-

Business is a wonderful introduction to the world

dian boys’ school. Ramsay writes a long letter

of Robertson Davies.

(the novel) to his headmaster as a justification of

his life. Ramsay’s life resembles Davies’s in many

Other Works by Robertson Davies

respects, although Davies has said the work is

The Lyre of Orpheus. New York: Viking Penguin,

“autobiographical, but not as young men do it; it


will be rather as Dickens wrote David Copperfield,

Murther and Walking Spirits. New York: Viking

a fictional reworking of some things experienced

Penguin, 1991.

and much rearranged.” Ramsay characterizes

The Wel -tempered Critic: One Man’s View of Theatre

himself as a “fifth business,” which he says is a

and Letters in Canada. Toronto: McClelland and

character in an opera who has no opposite—“the

Stewart, 1981.

odd man out, the person who has not opposite of

What’s Bred in the Bone. New York: Viking Penguin,

the other sex. And you must have a Fifth Business


because he is the one who knows the secret of

the hero’s birth, or comes to the assistance of the

A Work about Robertson Davies

heroine when she thinks all is lost . . . or may even

Grant, Judith Skelton. Robertson Davies: Man of

be the cause of somebody’s death.”

Myth. New York: Viking, 1994.

Ramsay’s tale begins with a a child’s game that

turns tragic. On a snowy day when he is just 10,

Ramsay ducks to avoid a snowball thrown by Boy

Daviot, Gordon

Staunton. The snowball, which has a rock at its

See Tey, Josephine.

center, hits Mary Dempster and causes her to give

birth prematurely. The head injury also leaves

Mary mentally disturbed and unable to care for

Day-Lewis, Cecil (Nicholas Blake) (1904–


1972) poet, novelist, nonfiction writer,

From this single moment, many of the novel’s


events unfold, as Ramsay observes and struggles

C. Day-Lewis was born in Ballintubbert, Ireland.

to understand. Davies’s interest in Jungian arche-

His parents, both Anglo-Irish, were F. C. Lewis,

types is quite evident in this tale that is at once

a Protestant minister, and Kathleen Blake Squires

realistic and full of magic. The psychologist Carl

Lewis, who died when he was four years old. An

Jung came to believe that people share patterns of

omission in Lewis’s autobiography, The Buried Life

thoughts or imagery that come from the collec-

(1960), speaks volumes. Despite countless refer-

tive experience of all humans are present in the

ences to his father, Day-Lewis does not name him,

minds of individuals, which he called archetypes.

whereas, in the few pages devoted to his mother, he

Jungian archetypes include the mother, the saint,

names her twice, both times using her full name.

Day-Lewis, Cecil 133

Day-Lewis entered Wadham College, Oxford,

Reflective of the gathering storm in Europe, the

in 1923. Two individuals there influenced him:

poetry collection Overtures to Death (1938) is one

Sir Maurice Bowra, a college tutor; and fellow

of his most gripping books. The title poem directly

student W. H. Auden, who inspired his interest

addresses death with fervor: “You lean with us at

in both poetry and left-wing causes. Day-Lewis

street-corners, / . . . Your eyes are the foundry’s

graduated from Oxford in 1927, and the follow-

glare.” Louis MacNeice noted that Day-Lewis,

ing year he married Mary King. About this time

“whose theme is the modern industrial world, its

his first name appeared in print as the initial “C”

economics and its politics, takes his images espe-

rather than the full “Cecil,” a name he hated.

cially from such things as pylons, power-houses,

Day-Lewis’s first two poetry collections,

spies, frontiers, aeroplanes, steam-engines.”

Beechen Vigil (1925) and Country Comets (1928),

The post-communist Day-Lewis became an

consist of apolitical poems, written mostly at

increasingly fastidious and traditional poet. In The

Oxford, with classical or biblical themes. Nei-

Room (1965), “Who Goes Home?” was occasioned

ther book is exceptional, but Comets contains the

by Winston Churchill’s death. A typical stanza

lyrical “Naked Woman with Kotyle,” a variation

begins “Soldier, historian, / . . . Adorned the pres-

on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” Tran-

ent and awoke the past.” Here Day-Lewis was writ-

sitional Poem (1929), written in a more conver-

ing as though he were Britain’s poet laureate, a post

sational style, suggests a rejection of past poetic

to which he was in fact appointed in 1968.

practice: “I say it is a bottle / For papless poets to

In addition to his poetry, Day-Lewis wrote 20

feed their fancy on.”

mystery novels under the pseudonym Nicholas

From Feathers to Iron (1931) consists of the

Blake. Most featured the detective (and Oxford

long title poem and an epilogue dedicated to

graduate) Nigel Strangeways, whom some believe

Auden. The occasion is Day-Lewis’s anticipated

Day-Lewis based on Auden. The most famous,

birth of his first child. Sections of the lyrical poem

The Beast Must Die (1938), formed the basis for a

disclose nature as vibrant: “Now the full-throated

brilliant film: Claude Chabrol’s Que la bête meure

daffodils, / Our trumpeters in gold.” Sensitivity to


nature remained a constant in Day-Lewis’s poetry

One of Day-Lewis’s children—with the actress

throughout his career.

Jill Balcon, whom Day-Lewis married in 1951—is

During the 1930s, Day-Lewis maintained

the actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Fifty-one years

friendships with fellow leftists Auden, Louis Mac-

separate the Academy Awards that they won: C.

neice, and Stephen Spender. The four of them

Day-Lewis’s for helping to adapt George Bernard

were dubbed by detractors of their politics as the

Shaw’s Pygmalion (1938) to the screen, Daniel

“Macspaunday poets,” a merger of their names.

Day-Lewis’s for his passionate enactment of the

Day-Lewis’s great difficulty in finding a voice

Irish artist Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan’s My

recognizably his own perhaps explains his aca-

Left Foot (1989).

demic obsession with language. In The Poet’s Way

As a poet, Day-Lewis’s best period was the

of Knowledge (1957) he wrote, “Poets are com-

1930s. According to critic D. E. S. Maxwell, Day-

pelled to break away from the language of their

Lewis’s poems of this decade gave “a flesh and


blood presence” to the abstract concepts of “art

Day-Lewis worked as a teacher until 1935,

as propaganda, the bourgeois predicament, docu-

returning as Clark lecturer at Cambridge in 1946

mentary realism” that “exist in the events, person-

and professor of poetry at Oxford from 1951 to

alities and appearances of the time: in the shabby

1956. He wrote for the Left Review and in 1936

towns of an industrial wasteland denied the

joined the Communist Party; disillusioned, he left

machines of the new technology; . . . in the heart-

it two years later.

less antics of the complacent or ill-disposed.”

134 De Bernières, Louis

Another Work by C. Day-Lewis

Vivo and the Coca Lord (1991), and The Trouble-

The Complete Poems. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Uni-

some Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (1992), won

versity Press, 1995.

him a place among Granta magazine’s 20 “Best of

Young British Novelists” in 1993. In this trilogy,

A Work about C. Day-Lewis

de Bernières produces a rich tapestry of hundreds

Gelpi, Albert. Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day-

of eccentric, colorful characters populating a

Lewis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

fictional South American military state. Heav-

ily influenced by magical realist writers such as

Gabriel García Marquez and Isabel Allende, de

De Bernières, Louis (1954– ) novelist,

Bernières writes about supernatural occurrences

short story writer, playwright

in these novels in a straightforward, even casual

Louis de Bernières was born in London on Decem-

manner, interweaving them with everyday life.

ber 8, 1954, to Reginald Piers Alexander de Ber-

He also employs satire in abundance, making

nières-Smart, an army officer and, later, charity

light of situations that other writers might treat

director, and Jean de Bernières-Smart (née Ash-

with great gravity.

ton). He has described both his parents as excel-

In these works, de Bernières follows in the

lent writers who shared their love of writing with

steps of Latin American writers in depicting a

him (his father wrote poems, while his mother

South America of stark contrasts (machismo

was a devoted correspondent) and acknowledges

and matriarchs, religious faith and political cor-

“a succession of amazing English teachers who

ruption) that coexist in beauty and violence. By

were in love with language and literature” who

directly confronting major issues such as political

passed on their passion as well. “Writing is some-

oppression, he expanded the range of British fic-

thing I always knew I was going to do,” he has

tion in the 1990s, but never relinquished a quirky

said. “I find it easy because I love doing it.”

charm, sexuality, bawdiness, and even light senti-

De Bernières attended Bradfield College, an

mentality that won him an increasingly numerous

independent, coeducational boarding school in

following. Although some critics have described

southern England. At the age of 18, he joined

him as a literary tourist, others have championed

the British army, but quit after four months and

de Bernières’s work because of his lived experi-

moved to Colombia, where he worked as a pri-

ence in Colombia. In any case, his South Ameri-

vate tutor and cowboy on a livestock farm for two

can trilogy garnered him two major awards, the

years. His experiences in Colombia provided him

Commonwealth Writers Prize, Eurasia Region,

with rich material for his first three novels. After

for Best First Book (for Don Emmanuel) and the

returning to England, he obtained a bachelor’s

Commonwealth Writers Prize, Eurasia Region,

degree in philosophy from the Victoria University

for Best Book (for Señor Vivo). It also established

of Manchester in 1977, a certificate in education

him as a significant novelist.

at Leicester Polytechnic in 1981, and a master’s

However, it was de Bernières’s fourth novel,

degree from the University of London in 1985.

Captain Corel i’s Mandolin (1994), that elevated

During this period, he worked a number of odd

him to international prominence. Set on the Greek

jobs, including mechanic, bookseller, and courier.

isle of Cephallonia during the Italian invasion

He also taught delinquent and truant students in

of World War II, this novel follows a love affair

London from 1981.

between a Greek partisan and an Italian soldier.

De Bernières first began publishing short sto-

It includes a mixture of brutality and comedy

ries in British literary magazines in the late l980s.

that is characteristic of de Bernières’s work. The

His first novels, a trilogy consisting of The War

book spent five years on Britain’s best-seller list

of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts (1990), Señor

and was made into a movie; several million copies

Deighton, Len 135

have sold to date, and it has been translated into

and brutality of war, Corelli’s mandolin playing

dozens of languages.

serves as a symbol of enduring optimism. In the

More recently, de Bernières has continued his

end, stricken with guilt, Corelli becomes a Greek

ventures into personal, place-based narratives

citizen and after the war returns to the island,

in Red Dog, a 2001 collection of stories about a

where he reconciles with Pelagia.

legendary Australian sheepdog, and historical

Critics have most admired the way in which

fiction, in Birds Without Wings (2004), about the

de Bernières makes history, particularly the

deportation of Greeks from Turkey and vice versa

history of warfare, personal, the result of deci-

after World War I; this latter work was short-listed

sions made by individuals for their own private

for the Whitbread Novel Award.

reasons. The humanity of his book, focusing on

In addition to his fiction, de Bernières has

a small group of islanders and soldiers and the

written a play, Sunday Morning at the Centre of

long-term consequences of the war on their lives,

the World (broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1999), as

also captured the public’s affections. De Bernières

well as the introduction to The Book of Job (1998),

also perfected his use of postmodern devices such

a stand-alone reprint of the King James version

as the commingling of dead characters with the

of the book. He continues to contribute short sto-

living and the mixing of genres—the story is told

ries to various publications as well. In addition to

through a series of reports, letters, parts of Dr.

writing, de Bernières plays the flute, guitar, and

Iannis’s history, and monologues by various char-

mandolin, sometimes touring with the musical

acters, among others. As in his earlier works, de

group Antonius Players. He lives in Norfolk.

Bernières also moves fluidly and swiftly between

comic and horrific scenes, evoking an extensive

Critical Analysis

range of feelings in the course of his tale.

With the 1994 publication of Captain Corel i’s

Captain Corel i’s Mandolin is widely regarded

Mandolin (published in the United States as Corel-

as de Bernières’s most impressive and mature

li’s Mandolin), Louis de Bernières turned in a new

work, offering a vision of the possibility of hope

literary direction that yielded him further critical

and healing, fostered by romantic love, in the face

acclaim as well as great commercial success. The

of even the worst atrocities.

book sold steadily for years and was a favorite of

the British reading groups that became popular

Another Work by Louis de Bernières

in the 1990s. The reasons behind this dual success

Labels. London: One Horse Press, 1993.

lie partly in de Bernières’s inclusion of compelling

historical and political material and partly in his

Works about Louis de Bernières

lyrical, postmodern style.

“Louis de Berniéres.” In Dictionary of Literary Biog-

Captain Corel i’s Mandolin tells the story of

raphy, vol. 271: British and Irish Novelists Since

two tragic would-be lovers set against a back-

1960, edited by Merritt Moseley, 92–102. Farm-

drop of war. The setting, the small Greek island

ington Mills, Mich.: Gale Group, 2002.

of Cephallonia, largely unknown in international

Reynolds, Margaret, and Jonathan Noakes. Louis de

circles prior to the publication of this book (its

Bernières: The Essential Guide. London: Vintage,

success made the island a popular tourist desti-


nation), was one of the first to be invaded by the

Italians during World War II. Pelagia, daughter

of Doctor Iannis (the island’s leading citizen, a

Deighton, Len (1929– ) novelist, nonfiction

professor who is writing its history), falls in love


with the musically gifted Italian commander,

Born in London, Len Deighton attended St.

Captain Corelli. Amid the confusion, ambiguity,

Martin’s School of Art after completing military

136 de la Mare, Walter

service with the Special Investigation Branch in

worked successfully in many genres, his reputa-

1949. While working as a waiter, he developed

tion rests primarily on his thrillers. George Grella

an interest in cooking and eventually became a

calls him “a master of modern spy fiction . . . who

pastry chef at London’s Royal Festival Hall. His

creates a convincingly detailed picture of the

interest in cooking inspired him to draw a comic

world of espionage while carefully examining the

strip for the London Observer and to write two

ethics and morality of that world.”

books on French cooking, including Ou Est le

Garlic? (1965). In 1960 he married illustrator

Other Works by Len Deighton

Shirley Thompson.

Blood, Tears, and Fol y: An Objective Look at World

Settling in the Dordogne, France, Deighton

War II. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

began his first novel, a thriller about the rescue

Winter: A Novel of a Berlin Family. New York: Bal-

of a kidnapped biochemist. The Ipcress File (1962)

lantine, 1987.

was an immediate success. Deighton wrote six

more books featuring its nameless hero, who

became Harry Palmer in the movie adaptations.

de la Mare, Walter (1873–1956) poet,

“The creation of this slightly anarchic, wise-

novelist, children’s writer

cracking, working-class hero was Deighton’s

Walter de la Mare was born to James Edward

most original contribution to the spy thriller,”

de la Mare and his wife, Lucy Sophia Browning,

wrote London Times reviewer T. J. Binyon, who

a descendant of the British poet Robert Brown-

also praised Deighton’s “gift for vivid, startling

ing, in Charlton, Kent, England. He attended St.


Paul’s Cathedral School but did not attend college

Berlin Game (1983) began the first of several

because of financial constraints. He instead went

trilogies featuring Bernie Sampson, a British

to work as a statistical clerk for the Anglo-Ameri-

intelligence agent whose survival depends on

can Oil Company.

uncovering double- and triple-crosses during the

De la Mare resisted most of the concepts of

cold war. Unlike many fictional spies, Sampson

modernism, the antiromantic, realist literary

has a wife, family, and domestic problems on top

movement that spanned most of his lifetime. He

of his dangerous business. Deighton’s thrillers

was a romantic author who avoided the problems

“display a thorough and intimate knowledge of

of the present in favor of the world of the imagi-

spies and spying [that] lends considerable realism

nation. De la Mare’s work was often fantastic and

to his books,” says critic George Grella. “Spies, we

unbelievable and engaged the classically roman-

see, are real people” whose “activities represent a

tic themes of death, dreams, and altered mental

kind of institutionalized deceit.”


Like his espionage novels, Deighton’s nonfic-

De la Mare’s romantic disposition is evident

tion is meticulously researched. Scholar George

in the literature he wrote for children, which is

H. Reeves praises Fighter: The True Story of the

widely regarded as his best work. The novel The

Battle of Britain (1977) for “a profusion of detail

Three Mul a-Mulgars (1910), for instance, is set in

. . . that will delight the military history special-

an imaginary world and tells the story of three

ist,” while its “well-paced narrative and . . . deft

young monkeys coming of age while searching

characterization will hold the attention of the

for their long-lost father. The novel is success-

general reader.”

ful largely because, as the scholar James Decker

Deighton has also written several best-sell-

writes, it contains “a balance of humor and seri-

ing novels that are not thrillers, including SS-GB

ousness atypical of the genre of children’s fan-

(1979), an alternative history in which the Nazis

tasy,” leading the scholar Edward Wagenknecht

conquer Great Britain. Although Deighton has

to call the work an “epic of courage.”

de la Mare, Walter 137

De la Mare’s most celebrated volume of poetry,

traditional forms, during a time when modern-

Peacock Pie (1913), is also intended for children and

ist writers were engaged in breaking away from

engages his usual range of romantic, supernatural

the conventions of these same poetic traditions.

topics, such as witches and fairies. One of the most

His reputation soared in the 1910s, although the

endearing features of Peacock Pie is its intimate

dominance of modernism after the 1920s over-

and inviting tone. In “The Window,” for instance,

shadowed his poetry for a long period.

de la Mare asks the reader to sit beside him and

De la Mare wrote verse for children as well as

gaze onto the street from behind a curtain, where

adults, and his preoccupations with the power

“not a single one can see / My tiny watching eye.”

of the imagination and spiritual worlds beyond

De la Mare’s writing for adult audiences

direct apprehension were central to both. His first

includes the poem “We Who Have Watched,”

two successful collections of poetry, The Listen-

which appeared in the 1953 volume O Lovely

ers and Other Poems, and the volume of children’s

England and Other Poems, and numerous ghost

verse, Peacock Pie: A Book of Rhymes, established

stories. In “We Who Have Watched,” de la Mare

his reputation in 1912–13 and set the tone for

ponders where one can find hope in a world of

much of his later work.

“Mammon, vice and infamy / Cringe, bargain,

This tone drew on romantic ideas of the impor-

jape and jeer.”

tance of spiritual intuition and the overlapping of

The best of de la Mare’s ghost stories appear

material and immaterial worlds. In de la Mare’s

in the story collection On the Edge, which the

work, as in the works of the romantics, the realm

scholar John Clute regards as “polished, subtle,

of ordinary experience can yield extraordinary

[and] securely crafted.” In “A Recluse,” one of the

and even eerie insight. The forms of the natural

stories in On the Edge, the narrator, disregarding

world appear frequently in his work, serving to

cryptic warnings, enters the haunted home of Mr.

link humans with mysteries beyond the reach of

Bloom, a mysterious, ghostlike, and satanic fig-

their senses.

ure. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that

De la Mare’s work also resembles that of the

Mr. Bloom himself is a ghost and that the other

romantics in other respects. For example, his

spirits in his home are there as a result of his dab-

focus on childhood, particularly its special inno-

bling in the black arts.

cence, echoes the work of William Blake and

Although de la Mare had moderate success as

William Wordsworth. Also, the archaic, densely

a “serious” writer for adults, he is remembered for

woven language he usually employs often makes

his children’s literature. According to the critic

him sound like a poet writing well before the 20th

J. B. Priestley, de la Mare was a member of “one

century. For these qualities, his work was derided

of that most lovable order of artists who never lose

by most modernist writers as escapist.

sight of their childhood, but re-live it continually

It nevertheless influenced poets of succeeding

in their work and contrive to find expression for

generations. De la Mare’s mastery of forms served

their maturity in it, memories and impressions,

as a strong model for writers of the 1930s who

its romantic vision of the world.” Near the end of

revived traditional English poetry, among them

his life de la Mare received numerous awards for

W. H. Auden, and his children’s verse is widely

his literary achievements. He was named Com-

admired today for its evocativeness and sonority.

panion of Honour by King George VI in 1948 and

received the Order of Merit in 1953.

Other Works by Walter de la Mare

Col ected Poems of Walter de la Mare. Boston: Faber,

Critical Analysis


Poetry guided Walter de la Mare’s life. He pub-

Col ected Stories for Children. London: Faber and

lished more than 1,000 poems, most of them in

Faber, 1947.

138 Delaney, Shelagh

Works about Walter de la Mare

and it failed commercially. Delaney turned from

Wagenknecht, Edward. Seven Masters of Supernatu-

writing plays to screenplays and radio scripts.

ral Fiction. New York: Greenwood, 1991.

Delaney’s plays are frequently compared to

Whistler, Theresa. Imagination of the Heart: The Life

those of John Osborne and other members of

of Walter de la Mare. London: Duckworth, 1993.

the Angry Young Men movement. Like these

writers, Delaney uses working-class slang and

portrays working-class lives. But Delaney’s char-

Delaney, Shelagh (1939– ) playwright,

acters express an acceptance and optimism not


always present in the works of her contempo-

Shelagh Delaney was born in Salford, England,

raries. As the critic John Russell Taylor says about

to Joseph Delaney, a bus inspector, and Elsie Del-

A Taste of Honey, Jo “recognizes that her fate is

aney. Her mother read constantly and inspired

in her own hands, and takes responsibility for the

her with a love of storytelling. Delaney was an

running of her own life.”

indifferent student and left school at 17, but she

maintained an interest in literature and began

A Work about Shelagh Delaney

writing a novel.

Lacey, Stephen. British Realist Theater: The New

In 1957 Delaney was so moved by a perfor-

Wave in Its Context. London: Routledge, 1995.

mance of Terence Rattigan’s play Variation

on a Theme that she decided to convert her novel

into a play called A Taste of Honey (1958). The

Dennis, Nigel Forbes (1912–1989)

drama features Jo, who has an affair with a Welsh

novelist, playwright, poet, journalist

sailor, gives birth to an illegitimate child after he

Born in Surrey, England, to Michael Beauchamp

departs, and then is aided by Geof, a homosexual

Dennis, a lieutenant colonel in a Scottish regi-

art student, until her mother returns and drives

ment, and Louise Bosanquet Dennis, Nigel Den-

him away. Although the plot is underdeveloped,

nis was raised in Rhodesia following his father’s

the play was highly praised for its realistic and

death in 1918 and educated partly in Austria

contemporary dialogue and characters who are

and Germany. He worked as a journalist in the

working-class people facing common problems.

United States from 1931 to 1949, but much of his

British audiences, bored by the theatrical tra-

early writing was lost or destroyed due to war and

dition of genteel drawing-room plays, welcomed

neglect. He was assistant editor and book review

these qualities. Delaney’s play won the 1958

editor of the New Republic and later joined Time

Charles Henry Foyle Award for best new drama

as a staff book reviewer.

and the 1961 New York Drama Critics Circle

Dennis published his first novel, Boys and Girls

Award for best foreign play. However, some critics

Come Out to Play (published in the United States

attributed the play’s success to the director, Joan

as A Sea Change), in 1949, shortly after his return

Littlewood, who was famous for improvising and

to England. The book is about two Americans who

adapting original scripts.

visit Poland in 1939 and become caught up in the

Delaney’s next play, The Lion in Love (1960),

outbreak of war. Winner of the Anglo-American

portrays an impoverished family whose income

Novel Prize in 1949, it demonstrated Dennis’s tal-

comes from peddling trinkets, and expertly

ent for satire and comic invention.

explores the social problems introduced in A

Dennis’s reputation as a satiric novelist was

Taste of Honey. However, the best qualities of the

established with his Cards of Identity (1955), in

first play are absent: The language in Lion is much

which he targets the manipulation of mass opin-

more formal, and some of the child characters are

ion. Regarded as his finest work, the book satirizes

not fully developed. The play was largely panned,

the shallowness of modern human identity, culmi-

Desai, Anita 139

nating in “The Prince of Antioch,” the play within

with older, upper-middle-class women who, since

the novel, which is a parody of Shakespeare. Den-

British rule ended in India, have come down

nis adapted Cards of Identity for the stage in 1956.

in the world yet continue trying to live as they

He wrote plays denouncing left-wing totalitarian-

once did. Desai’s fiction has broadened in scope

ism and critiquing the debasement of standards

over the decades, however, and she does portray

under democracies. His play The Making of Moo

important realities of Indian life.

(1957) is aimed at the idolatry of religion.

Desai’s first novel, Cry, the Peacock (1963), con-

Known for his witty journalism, Dennis coed-

cerns a marriage so desperate that the wife kills

ited the periodical Encounter and contributed

her husband and herself. In Bye Bye, Blackbird

reviews and columns to the Australian newspa-

(1975), set in London, two Indians—one more

per The Sunday Telegraph. He expressed his love

British than the British, the other an immigrant

of the Mediterranean in An Essay on Malta (1972)

who detests everything British—reverse stances.

and in Exotics (1970), a volume of poems mostly

Fire on the Mountain (1977) centers on two solitary

set in that region.

women, Nanda Kaul and her great-granddaughter

Raka. Nanda’s refusal to take responsibility results

Other Works by Nigel Dennis

in her friend Ila’s rape and murder and Raka’s

Dramatic Essays. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson,

torching of the surrounding countryside.


Clear Light of Day (1980), which many crit-

A House in Order. New York: Vanguard, 1966.

ics consider Desai’s masterpiece, concerns the

reunion of two sisters in a ghostly family mansion

in New Delhi. Taking place during the partition

Desai, Anita (1937– ) novelist, short story

of India and Pakistan, it depicts the family’s own


partition yet ends in reconciliation and harmony.

Daughter of a Bengali businessman, D. W.

In Custody (1984) portrays India’s last great Urdu

Mazumdar, and a German mother, Toni Nina,

poet, Nur, and his devotee, Deven. Through a

Anita Desai grew up speaking German at home

desire to embrace art and poetry, Deven finds

and Hindi in public, but she first read and wrote

himself married to squalor. Desai’s darkest work

in English. She received a B.A. with honors from

is Baumgartner’s Bombay (1989), in which the

the University of Delhi in 1957. A year later, she

doubly exiled Baumgartner meets in India the

married Ashvin Desai. Three times nominated

fate he went there to escape.

for the Booker Prize, Desai is (as of 2008) a pro-

fessor of humanities at MIT.

Critical Analysis

Desai has been influenced most notably by

Clear Light of Day takes an unsparing but ulti-

Virginia Woolf and Henry James. Essential

mately optimistic look at family life, as Desai tells

qualities of her fiction are seeming “plotlessness”

the story of the Das family—Raja, Bimla, Tara,

(she admits to having only a faint notion of plot

and Baba—who grew up in Old Delhi, India.

when she begins writing); habitual exploration,

While the novel is essentially domestic, parts of

through stream of consciousness, of the inner

it are set during the late 1940s, the period of the

states of characters; and use of imagery and sym-

partition of India and the creation of the Muslim

bolism to convey atmosphere and character.

state of Pakistan. This was a time of great turmoil

While other writers appreciate her work, the

in India, as the partition was accompanied by vio-

Indian literary establishment has criticized Desai

lence and destruction.

for ignoring India’s most pressing problems and

The Das family’s home is between that of the

socioeconomic realities. In her nine novels and

Hindu Misra family and that of the wealthy Mus-

collections of short stories, Desai is concerned

lim, Hyder Ali, symbolically caught in the middle

140 Desai, Kiran

of India’s great conflict. The two older children,

“It was not spite or retaliation that made Tara

Bimla and Raja, are bright, talented, athletic,

abandon Bim—it was the spider fear that lurked

and idealistic. Raja dreams of being a poet and

in the centre of the web-world for Tara.” There is

is enthralled with his neighbor Hyder Ali, who

hardly a passage in the novel that is not richly and

seems heroic to him as he rides a white horse

beautifully written.

along the banks of a river. Bim determines never

to marry and becomes a devoted student and then

Other Works by Anita Desai

teacher of history. Tara, shy and pretty, is awed

Diamond Dust: Stories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,

almost into paralysis by her older brother and sis-


ter, unable to keep up or compete. The youngest

Fasting, Feasting. Mariner Books, 2000.

son, Baba, is slow and unable to speak or take care

of himself.

A Work about Anita Desai

The novel begins with Tara and Bim together

Bhatanaghar, Manmohan K. Novels of Anita Desai:

again after nearly a decade apart. Tara, married

A Critical Study. Columbia, Mo.: South Asia

to a diplomat, lives in the United States; Bim still

Books, 2000.

lives in the family home, unmarried, caring for

her brother. Raja has married Hyder Ali’s daugh-

ter. Fat and rich, he lives in Hyderabad, India.

Desai, Kiran (1971– ) novelist

The novel then goes back in time to detail the

Kiran Desai was born September 3, 1971, in Chan-

children’s growing up, first from Bim’s viewpoint,

digarh, India, to novelist Anita Desai and Ashvin

then from Tara’s. The “clear light of day” of the

Desai, a businessman. Though she remains a citi-

title shines near the end of the novel as the adults

zen of her native country, Kiran Desai has been a

come to terms with their childhood hurts and

permanent resident of the United States since the

misunderstandings. “Everything had been said at

age of 15, when her family moved from England

last, cleared out of the way finally. There was noth-

after a year’s residency.

ing left in the way of a barrier or a shadow, only

She began her education in New Delhi, India,

the clear light pouring down from the sun. They

and her first language at home was German, a

might be floating in the light—it was as vast as the

legacy of her maternal grandmother, who was

ocean, but clear, without colour or substance or

German. After completing high school in Mas-

form. It was the lightest and most pervasive of all

sachusetts, where her mother teaches at the Mas-

elements and they floated in it.”

sachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge,

This passage, along with many others in the

Desai studied creative writing at Vermont’s Ben-

novel, illustrates Desai’s greatest strength as a

nington College, Virginia’s Hollins University,

writer: lyrical writing that is beautiful and power-

and New York’s Columbia University. Despite her

ful at the same time. Every word seems to be cho-

multicultural influences, she writes in English.

sen with care, every phrase perfectly balanced,

Her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, won

every metaphor startlingly right. The family cat

the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics

“dropped sulkily onto one of the tiles and lay

Circle Fiction Award, both in 2006. In addition, it

there noisily tearing at her fur with a sandpapered

was nominated in 2007 for the Kiryiama Pacific

tongue of an angry red.” The young doctor who

Rim Book Prize, the National Book Critics’ Circle

cares for Raja one summer as he struggles with

Fiction Award, and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

tuberculosis “had a very honest face . . . painfully

Her first novel, Hul abaloo in the Guava

honest, like a peeled vegetable.” When Tara mar-

Orchard (1998), received the Betty Trask Award of

ries and leaves the family home, the narrator says,

the British Society of Authors, given for the best

Donleavy, James Patrick 141

novel by a citizen of the British Commonwealth

While Dickens’s early works were often lightly

younger than 35.

satirical, her novels became more serious in

the 1960s as she addressed topics such as child

abuse, alcoholism, suicide, and inner city social

Dickens, Monica (1915–1992) novelist,

problems. Drawing on her extensive journalistic

nonfiction writer

experience writing for Woman’s Own magazine,

Although not as famous as Charles Dickens, her

Dickens thoroughly researched her topics. She

great-grandfather, Monica Dickens established

spent numerous hours at juvenile courts, for

her own notable literary career. She was born in

example, before writing Kate and Emma (1964), a

London to Henry Charles Dickens, a barrister,

novel about the ill-treatment of children.

and Fanny Runge Dickens. A Roman Catholic,

In the 1970s Dickens became involved with

Dickens was educated at St. Paul’s School for

the Samaritans, a group that counsels those con-

Girls, at a finishing school in Paris, and at a dra-

sidering suicide. She founded the first American

matic school.

branch of Samaritans in Boston in 1974. The

In the 1930s Dickens, bored with her upper-

scholar Carlton Jackson notes that although

middle-class life, worked as a maid and a cook

Dickens was best known in England as a novelist

in private London homes. She wrote about these

and best known in the United States as a Samari-

experiences, often humorously, in the autobiog-

tan, her works were effective tools of reform

raphy One Pair of Hands (1939). She recounts the

since she, as “a novelist, sees a difficult life situ-

following from a day of washing clothes: “There

ation, and in reporting it sometimes enlarges it

was no one but me to answer the telephone, which

in a way that wil , perhaps, garner support for its

always rang when I was covered in soap to the


elbow. I accepted a bridge party for the owner of

the corsets, and a day’s golfing for the wearer of

Other Works by Monica Dickens

the socks, but did not feel in a position to give an

Befriending: The American Samaritans. Carlton

opinion on the state of cousin Mary’s health.”

Jackson, ed. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling

Dickens later took up nursing, chronicling her

Green University Popular Press, 1996.

years in that profession in One Pair of Feet (1942).

The Room Upstairs. London: Heinemann, 1966.

She describes her wartime experience in an air-

craft factory in the novel The Fancy (1943). She

became a prolific fiction writer after World War II.

Doe, John James

Her novel The Happy Prisoner (1946) describes a

See O’Brien, Flann.

soldier who discovers a series of important truths

while recuperating from war wounds.

Dickens often found herself compared to her

Donleavy, James Patrick (1926– )

great-grandfather and frequently received mixed

novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer

reviews from critics. For example, when review-

J. P. Donleavy was born in Brooklyn, New York,

ing Winds of Heaven (1955), a novel about an

to Irish immigrants James Patrick and Marga-

aging English widow who clashes with her three

ret Donleavy. He was raised and educated in the

daughters, critic Dachine Rainer wrote, “Her

Bronx and attended the Naval Academy Prepa-

characters are plausible enough, but the book is as

ratory School, then served briefly during World

sordid as her forebear’s without his brutal social

War II.

satire, relieving comic sense, or that vast compas-

Despite his birth and upbringing as an Ameri-

sion which moves us.”

can, Donleavy always considered himself Irish.

142 Donleavy, James Patrick

He took the opportunity afforded by the G.I. Bill

individualism. The lasting popularity of the book

to move to Dublin, Ireland, and entered Trinity

and its hero has been solidified by the number

College. In Dublin he married and began his novel

of eponymous bars that exist around the world.

The Ginger Man, which, when it was published in

There are literally hundreds of Ginger Man pubs

1955, brought him money and a sudden reputa-

from Dublin to Dallas.

tion. The idea for the novel, he said, came about

It must be acknowledged up front that Sebas-

in 1949 while he was celebrating an American

tian Dangerfield, for all of his endearing qualities,

Thanksgiving in Dublin. The book was published

existed in a world that is solidly prefeminist, and

in Paris by Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press.

Sebastian would not survive any test of political

Much to Donleavy’s dismay, it was published

correctness. Although he loves women, he also

as part of a pornographic series. This and other

uses, abuses, and dismisses them. He is an amoral

details of its publication led to a 25-year-long

character who lives by his own set of rules that are

lawsuit between Donleavy and Girodias. When

often at odds with what society, and especially the

it ended, Donleavy had not only won but found

prudish, straitlaced society of postwar Ireland,

himself owning Olympia Press.


Originally rejected by more than 30 Ameri-

Despite Dangerfield’s misogyny, he is a char-

can publishers, The Ginger Man has as its hero

acter of such soul and such charm that he is hard

Sebastian Dangerfield, who was based on Gainer

to dislike. As the novel opens, Dangerfield has

Stephen Crist, a law student at Trinity. The novel

pawned the family’s electric heater—the only

details Dangerfield’s mostly drunken adventures

source of heat for himself, his wife, and his new-

and misadventures in Dublin and London. The

born child. He meets up with an old friend, the

book became a cause célèbre, sold millions of cop-

sex-starved Kenneth O’Keefe, whom he takes

ies, and was translated into dozens of languages.

home with him. There he hacks up a blue blan-

Its proceeds enabled Donleavy to buy an estate in

ket. “Watch me,” he says. “See? Put this round

Ireland, and he gave up his American citizenship.

the neck like this, tuck in the ragged edges and

The novel’s shocking language (for the 1950s) and

presto. I’m now wearing Trinity’s rowing blue.”

equally bold characterizations and events were in

Dangerfield rightly expects that he is much

some part responsible for its fame. (An unexpur-

more likely to be able to borrow money if he is

gated edition was published in 1963.)

assumed to be upper class. Dangerfield romps

Since The Ginger Man Donleavy has written

through bar fights, bicycle chases through the

10 other novels, five plays, and three nonfiction

streets of Dublin, love affairs, and various other

works, but none has had the astounding success of


his first. The scholar Charles Masinton writes that

The writer V. S. Naipaul has said of The Ginger

Donleavy’s fiction is notable for his “accurate ear

Man that “It is one of the books which reveals their

for the rhythms and intonations of human speech.

quality from the first line. On every page there is

This talent—along with an ability to populate his

that immediacy all good writing has.” Apart from

novels with a host of interesting comic charac-

the charm of its protagonist is the charm of the

ters—makes his works quite entertaining.”

writing which is vigorous, funny, plaintive, and

raucous at the same time.

Critical Analysis

Donleavy’s Ginger Man is now more than 50

Other Works by J. P. Donleavy

years old, but its protagonist, Sebastian Danger-

A Fairy Tale of New York. 1973. Reprint, New York:

field, remains eternally young, eternally soused,

Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989.

and eternally battling against a world of rules

Singular Man. 1963. Reprint, New York: Atlantic

and conventions on behalf of his own brand of

Monthly Press, 1989.

Douglas, Keith Castellain 143

A Work about J. P. Donleavy

architecture of these living jewels . . . they thought

Donleavy, J. P., The History of The Ginger Man. Bos-

it but childish fondness in the stranger.”

ton: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Although the work received little attention at

first, Travels in Arabia Deserta proved to have a

longer life than expected. The book was used in

Doughty, Charles Montagu (1843–1926)

the planning of operations during Britain’s cam-

poet, historian, travel writer

paigns in Arabia, and in 1921 it was reissued with

Charles Doughty is best known for his epic Trav-

a forward by T. E. Lawrence, who had become

els in Arabia Deserta (1888), a two-volume work

a great admirer of the author. Doughty was

describing his two-year trek across Arabia and his

pleased to accept the adulation of a younger fel-

time among the Bedouins. He was the orphaned

low traveler.

son of a Suffolk squarson (a vicar who is also a

landowner, i.e., a squire and a parson) and the

product of a religious school system. As such he

Douglas, Keith Castellain (1920–1944)

always remained intensely focused on whatever


subject he was studying. In fact he spent an entire

Keith Douglas was born in Kent to an army offi-

decade researching his epic poem The Dawn in

cer and his wife, and was educated at Christ’s

Britain (1906) and another decade writing it.

Hospital School in London and at Oxford. His

Doughty’s particular passion was for what he

education was cut short by the outbreak of World

thought of as the lost beauty and perfection of

War II. By 1941 he was serving as a tank com-

the English language found in the writings of the

mander in North Africa, where he wrote some

Renaissance. He believed that the language had

of his finest poetry. He was killed in Normandy

fallen into disrepair since then and tried to bring

three days after taking part in the Allied invasion

about its restoration. The vehicle he chose for this

of Europe.

was Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888).

Douglas had written poetry since the age of

In the 1870s Doughty made many trips to

10, and his early work was published in Augury:

North Africa and the Levant. These travels awak-

An OxFord Miscel any of Verse and Prose (1940).

ened in him an obsessive curiosity, and he even-

From 1937 onward, his work appeared in a num-

tually turned his attention to Arabia to search

ber of periodicals, including Geoffrey Grigson’s

for the ruins of a vanished civilization of which

New Verse. The only volume of his poetry to be

he had heard. While his contemporaries often

published in his lifetime was Selected Poems

approached foreign lands with many preconcep-

(1943). His style became increasingly mature and

tions, Doughty greeted Arabia with an open mind

coldly angry, as is evident in Alamein to Zem Zem

and soon became fascinated by Arab culture,

(1946), his documentary prose account of desert

faith, and history. He spent two years in Rub’al


Khali, the “empty quarter” of what is now Saudi

Douglas’s Col ected Poems appeared in two

Arabia, adapting to the Bedouin culture.

editions: edited by J. Waller and G. S. Fraser

On his return to England, Doughty faced

(1951) and with an introduction by Edmund

the greatest trial of all: an uninterested public.

Blunden (1966), a distinguished soldier poet

Scholars frowned on Doughty’s insistence that

from World War I and Douglas’s tutor at Merton

his firsthand knowledge invalidated many of the

College, Oxford. The poet Ted Hughes edited

established beliefs about Arabia, and publishers

and introduced Douglas’s Selected Poems (1964),

objected to the intentionally antique style of his

which significantly renewed interest in Douglas’s

writing, as in the following passage: “When the

poetry. Douglas’s poems “How to Kill” and “Ver-

Beduins saw me pensive, to admire the divine

gissmeinnicht,” often anthologized, represent his

144 Doyle, Roddy

incisive clarity and plainness of diction. Douglas’s

Reviews in the Irish press of Doyle’s novels

poetry is known for its ruthlessly unsentimental

have been mixed. Some reviewers are offended by

quality, as well as its candor and detachment. As

the coarse, often obscene, language the characters

the following lines from the poem “Aristocrats”

use. Doyle has said in interviews that although he

demonstrate, he celebrated the last stand of the

feels pressured to present Irish life in a more posi-

chivalric hero, recognizing both the folly and

tive light, he refuses to do so. No matter how raw

glamour of modern-day chivalry: “How can I live

the portrayal of the working-class Irish, Doyle

among this gentle / obsolescent breed of heroes,

believes his dialogue-driven stories are true to

and not weep?”

the source of his inspiration: the life and dreams

of the poor and working class who are treated as

Another Work by Keith Douglas

outcasts by society. The harsh language conveys

Graham, Desmond, ed. Complete Poems. Win-

a vitality of spirit that perseveres in the most

chester, Mass.: Faber and Faber, 2000.

oppressive of settings.

Doyle’s next novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

A Work about Keith Douglas

(1993), takes place in the Barrytown of 1968 and

Graham, Desmond. Keith Douglas: 1920–1944. New

concerns the effects of the breakup of a marriage

York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

on a 10-year-old boy named Paddy Clarke. As the

novel progresses, the boy matures, as reflected

in his vocabulary, and by the novel’s end he has

Doyle, Roddy (1958– ) novelist, playwright,

learned the bittersweet acceptance of pain as an


unavoidable constant in life. This novel firmly

One of the most artistically and commercially

established Doyle’s literary reputation, becoming

successful Irish novelists in recent years, Roddy

a best seller in America and Great Britain, where

Doyle was born in Dublin. He was educated at

it was awarded the Booker Prize.

St. Fintan’s Christian Brothers School in Sutton

The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996)

and at University College, Dublin. Afterward

is perhaps Doyle’s most ambitious work. It is a

he taught English and geography for 14 years at

first-person narrative about a 39-year-old alco-

Grendale Community School in Killbarrack, on

holic widow who has been a victim of spousal

the north side of Dublin. He transformed this

abuse. Doyle also explored the theme of violence

area into the fictional Barrytown, which was the

in a family in 1993 in a four-part television series

setting for his early novels.

that he scripted, called Family. The vision in both

His first novel, The Commitments (1987), was

works is darker than in his earlier novels, but it is

originally self-published but soon was picked up

no less compelling.

by a London publisher. The novel tells the story of

Doyle has written the first two books in a pro-

a group of down-and-out young Dubliners who

posed trilogy, The Last Roundup. The first, A Star

form a soul band with the hopes of making it big.

Cal ed Henry (1999), is a historical tale that deals

They almost succeed, but internal conflicts destroy

with the years preceding and following the 1916

the band. At the center of the novel is the Rabbitte

Easter Rebellion of Irish Nationalists seeking

family, who remain the focus of Doyle’s next two

independence from Britain and how events of the

novels, The Snapper (1990) and The Van (1991),

time affect a young man, Henry Smart. The sec-

which all together form the Barrytown Trilogy.

ond, Oh, Play That Thing, was published in 2004.

All three books are about working-class life, in

Doyle’s most recent work, Paula Spenser (2006),

which people deal with too little money and too

is a sequel to The Woman Who Walked into Doors.

much domestic strife. The grim elements of these

He has also worked as a screenwriter, adapting his

novels are relieved by moments of high comedy.

Barrytown trilogy successfully to film, and writ-

Drabble, Margaret 145

ten plays for the Dublin-based theater group Pas-

struggles of Emma, a young woman married to

sion Machine.

an egocentric actor, soon followed. The Mil stone

Though he has taken some critical knocks,

(1966), for which Drabble was awarded the pres-

Doyle is well thought of by many reviewers and

tigious John Llewelyn Rhys Prize, focuses on the

scholars. Speaking of Paddy Clarke, reviewer

difficulties the unmarried Rosamund Stacey faces

Carolyn See said in the Washington Post, “It is

when she finds herself pregnant and chooses to

a beautifully written novel; it may be one of the

keep the child.

great modern Irish novels.” She also compared

From 1967 to 1980, Drabble published seven

Doyle to Brendan Behan. The novelist Fay Wel-

more novels, including The Needle’s Eye (1972),

don writes, “There was Joyce’s Dublin and now

considered by some critics to be her best. Focus-

there is Roddy Doyle’s: wholly contemporary,

ing on the way money impinges on the emo-

extremely funny, and wonderfully and energeti-

tional relationship of Simon Camish, who grew

cally delinquent. [His work is] irresistible to the

up poor, and Rose Vassilou, an heiress who has

modern spirit.”

given all her money away, through Rose the novel

examines “[h]ow to live without exploiting any-

A Work about Roddy Doyle

one, and yet to resist the self-satisfaction of being

White, Caramine. Reading Roddy Doyle. Syracuse,

‘good,’ ” as American novelist and critic Joyce

N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2001.

Carol Oates has written. For Oates, “The Needle’s

Eye is an extraordinary work: “It not only tells

a story deftly, beautifully, with a management of

Drabble, Margaret (1939– ) novelist,

past and present (and future) action that dem-

short story writer, playwright, nonfiction writer,

onstrates Miss Drabble’s total mastery of the


mysterious form of the novel, but it succeeds in

Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Margaret Drabble is

so re-creating the experiences of the characters

the daughter of John Frederick Drabble, who was a

that . . . we become them, we are transformed

lawyer and country court judge as well as a novelist;

into them, so that by the end of the novel we

and Kathleen Marie Bloor Drabble, the daughter

have lived, through them, a very real, human, yet

of fundamentalist parents who was the first in her

extraordinary experience.”

family to attend a university and become an athe-

In The Ice Age (1977), influenced by the effects

ist. One of four children, Drabble is the younger

of “Thatcherism” and Britain’s oil crisis, Drabble

sister of novelist A. S. Byatt. After attending a

depicts English society as it undergoes its own

Quaker boarding school in York, Drabble studied

“ice age” involving the death of tradition.

English at Cambridge University, where she was

The Radiant Way (1987), the first of a trilogy

among the top students in her class.

about contemporary England, is set in the 1980s

A prolific novelist, Drabble’s writing has given

and focuses on three friends who attended Cam-

voice to the lives of contemporary British women

bridge together 25 years before: Liz Headeland, a

and their male counterparts. Influenced by the

psychotherapist juggling career and family; Alix

19th-century novelist Jane Austen, Drabble has

Bowen, a wife, mother, and political activist; and

written novels, short stories, and plays that

Esther Breuer, an unmarried academic with an

emphasize the female voice and experience.

interesting love life. Moving between the past

Drabble began her writing career with A Sum-

and present tenses, the novel ends with a picnic

mer Bird-Cage (1963), the story of Sarah and her

celebrating Esther’s 50th birthday. As the three

elder sister, Louise, as seen through Sarah’s eyes

women silently watch the sun set, the narrator’s

when she returns home to attend Louise’s wed-

final words suggest the symbolic death of life

ding. The Garrick Year (1964), about the marital

as it had once been: “The sun hangs in the sky,

146 Drabble, Margaret

burning. The earth deepens to a more profound

struggling with her family relationships or with

red. The sun bleeds, the earth bleeds. The sun

various aspects of contemporary British culture.

stands still.” Like The Radiant Way, the trilogy’s

Many of Drabble’s novels portray conflicted fam-

two subsequent volumes— A Natural Curiosity

ily relationships, problems between sisters or

(1989) and The Gates of Ivory (1991)—depict the

between mothers and daughters. This is the central

decline of Britain, the changing economic and

theme of The Peppered Moth (2001), a novel that is

political scene, and the confrontation of each of

based on Drabble’s own family, and particularly

the friends with herself and her role in a rapidly

on her mother, Kathleen Marie Bloor. The title

changing world. As the American novelist Mari-

of the novel refers to a moth that has drastically

lynne Robinson has written about The Radiant

changed its coloration over the last 200 years. This

Way, “This novel is a valuable specimen of new

moth was once light colored so that it could not


be easily seen on the light-colored trees on which

While Drabble’s next novel, The Witch of

it typically rested. However, the soot produced

Exmoor (1997), about the conflicts between the

by the Industrial Revolution darkened the trees

Palmer family and their eccentric and mysterious

so that the light-colored moths were easier to see

mother, Frieda, focuses on the author’s somewhat

and thus fell victim to predators. Only the darker

left-wing politics, her novel The Peppered Moth

moths survived and procreated.

(2001) can be seen as a departure from her earlier

Drabble uses this metaphor to provide insight

work in its more autobiographical theme. Drabble

into four generations of her own family, from her

draws on her family history to explore the rela-

grandmother to her daughter. She has not written

tionships among four generations and the nature

an autobiography, however, and she freely invents

of genetic inheritance.

explanations and episodes in examining the evolu-

Drabble is also the author of two biographies,

tion of her own family. The central characters are

of Arnold Bennett (1974) and Angus Wilson

Bessie Bawtry, her daughter Chrissie Baron, and

(1995). Other works include A Writer’s Britain:

her granddaughter Faro Gaulden. Drabble clearly

Landscape in Literature (1979), which explores the

wants to understand her mother, with whom she

way literature is connected to the way landscapes

had a quite conflicted relationship, and she won-

are perceived. Drabble also edited The OxFord

ders again and again how a person like Bessie

Companion to English Literature: Fifth Edition

evolved in the coal belt of South Yorkshire, in a

(1985, revised 2000). She has received the James

perfectly ordinary family, with no higher expecta-

Tait Black and the E. M. Forster awards and in

tions than to scrape by as best they could. Drabble

1980 was made a Commander of the Order of

is both amazed and disdainful in her description

the British Empire (CBE). As David Plante notes,

of Bessie’s sense of difference, wondering what

“[Drabble’s] fictional people live in terms of their

“had implanted in her needs and desires beyond

times: her novels can be read . . . as private records

her station, beyond her class.” She tells us that

of those times.” Linda Simon further character-

izes Drabble as a writer “concerned with the

Bessie hated the coal. She was fastidious and

behavior of individuals within the community

rare. Smells offended her, grit irritated her.

and of characters within fictional worlds. She is

How could they live . . . in such coarse com-

concerned with the possibilities of fiction itself.”

forts, so unknowingly? She was alien. She

was a changeling. She was of a finer breed.

Critical Analysis

She could hear her father sucking on his pipe.

Most of Drabble’s fiction deals with women and

Spittle, dottle, wet lungs, wet lips, wet whis-

their relationships. The typical Drabble heroine

kers. Unutterable revulsion had set up court

is a middle-class, well-educated Englishwoman,

in her small body.

Duffy, Maureen 147

In Drabble’s Jerusalem the Golden, her hero-

Works about Margaret Drabble

ine, Clara, comes to understand and appreci-

Bokat, Nicole Suzanne. Novels of Margaret Drabble:

ate her mother. Drabble’s portrayal of Bessie is

“This Freudian Nexus.” New York: Peter Lang,

layered and complex but ultimately very nega-


tive; she does not, finally, understand. In fact,

Hannay, John. The Intertextuality of Fate: A Study of

she reflects on Bessie’s attitude toward her own

Margaret Drabble. Columbia: University of Mis-

mother, Ellen Cudworth. “Ellen had always been

souri Press, 1986.

at war with dirt. She lost, but she fought on.

Wojcik-Andrews, Ian. Margaret Drabble’s Female

Bessie would not respect her for these battles,

Bildungsromane: Theory, Genre, and Gender. Vol.

because she was to observe only the defeat, not

6. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.

the struggle. Therefore, she was to despise her

mother. That is the way it is with mothers and

daughters.” Drabble portrays Bessie as a sickly

Drummond, William

child who learns at an early age that with sickness

See Calder-Marshall, Arthur.

comes the kind of attention she yearns for. With

typical humor, Drabble tells readers that Bessie

“enjoyed ill health. It was her earliest source of

Duffy, Maureen (1933– ) novelist, poet,

pleasure and indulgence.” Thus, throughout her


life Bessie takes to her bed to get what she wants,

Maureen Duffy was born in Sussex and raised in

manipulating her parents, husband, and children.

London in a poor home. Her father left the family

She expects an impossible level of perfection and

when Duffy was a baby. War and poverty made

punishes her family when she does not get what

her early life hard, but hardships gave her deter-

she wants. She adopts a “bitter, caustic, nagging

mination: In her tough and witty poem “Rejec-

tone” and refuses to take pleasure in anything.

tion Slip,” she wrote, “blitzkrieg and depression

Drabble adopts a tone of mock horror in telling

stamped my genes / In a pattern for carrying on.”

the story of her parents’ marriage. As Joe Barron

Duffy worked hard to win a scholarship to attend

prepares to marry Bessie, Drabble says, “Please

a good school. She adored poetry but enjoyed nov-

God that he has escaped . . . If he has escaped Bes-

els less, recalling later, “I had more or less given up

sie, then all can be undone, unwound, unstitched,

novel reading at the age of eleven when our girls’


school syllabus required us to move on from Sir

Contrasted to Bessie is Chrissie’s daughter

Walter Scott to Austen and the Brontës, which rep-

Faro, who is full of life and adventure, willing to

resented for me a declension from the free imagi-

take risks, and capable of love. She is not with-

native life of the individual to the much narrower

out her faults (she needs to take care of the weak,

world of a woman’s supposed place in the marriage

which leads her into some unpleasant relation-

stakes.” She attended King’s College in London,

ships), but, unlike her grandmother, Faro has

graduating with a B.A. degree in 1956.

made adaptations to her world that allow her to

Duffy’s first novel was the critically acclaimed

survive and flourish.

That’s How It Was. Heavily autobiographical, it

The Peppered Moth is not only an interesting

describes the early life of Paddy, an illegitimate

and readable novel, it also provides the reader a

girl with two passions: her need for an education

good deal of insight into Drabble’s literary preoc-

and her complex relationship with her mother.

cupation with mothers, sisters, and daughters.

After her first novel Duffy found conventional

Interestingly, Drabble’s sister, the novelist A. S.

prose too restrictive: “I wanted to use a language

Byatt, has said “I would rather people didn’t read

for fiction that was capable of rising to poetry, and

someone else’s version of my mother.”

that had all the sinewy vigour and flexibility of

148 du Maurier, Daphne

the London demotic I had been brought up on,”

Duffy is also passionately committed to the

she wrote. Duffy strove for this in The Microcosm

antivivisectionist cause. Her dedication to animal

(1966), a novel about the underground lesbian bar

rights is clear in her novels Gor Saga (1981), about

scene. The novel opens with the narrator, a woman

a half-man half-gorilla hybrid; and I Want to Go

called Matt, mourning a dead lover while spend-

to Moscow (1973), a novel about antivivisection-

ing nights in the dark confines of the bar she calls

ists. She expresses her beliefs in Men and Beasts:

the “house of shades”: “Sometimes I think we’re

An Animal Rights Handbook (1984).

all dead down here, shadows, a house of shades,

Duffy has also been involved in improving

echoes of the world above where girls are blown

funding for writers, serving as chair and then

about the streets like flowers on young stalks.”

president of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain

The Microcosm opens with a quote from a

for several years. Her poem “A Letter to Whom It

poem by Louis MacNeice: “World is crazier

Doesn’t Concern” is a savage indictment of those

and more of it than we think, / Incorrigibly plu-

who ignore the plight of struggling authors.

ral.” Duffy respected this plurality in her work,

In addition to novels, Duffy has also written

creating many characters who were unusual and

plays, such as The Lay Off (1962), The Silk Room

thus ostracized by others. She worked especially

(1966), and A Nightingale in Bloomsbury Square

hard to depict alternative sexualities. Duffy her-


self was one of the first British writers to publicly

announce her homosexuality. During the 1950s

Other Works by Maureen Duffy

and 1960s, she spoke out actively on behalf of gay

Alchemy. London: HarperCollins, 2007.

and lesbian rights.

Col ected Poems. London: Hamilton, 1985.

Duffy has written about London many times.

England: The Making of the Myth, from Stonehenge

Wounds (1976) is a sensual novel describing vari-

to Albert Square. London: Fourth Estate, 2001.

ous Londoners searching for sexual fulfillment

Restitution. London: Fourth Estate, 1998.

and wounded by the lack of it. Capital (1975)

spans thousands of years of London’s history. The

A Work about Maureen Duffy

novel opens by introducing the contemporary

Rule, Jane. Lesbian Images. New York: Pocket Books,

archaeologist Meepers, obsessed with excavating


London: “It was the living who passed ghostly

around him, through whose curiously incorpo-

real flesh he moved without sensation while the

du Maurier, Daphne (1907–1989)

dead pressed and clamoured, their cries drown-

novelist, short story writer

ing out the traffic.” The novel then plunges back

The daughter of the actor, producer, and the-

to the distant past of a Neanderthal tribe camped

ater manager Gerald du Maurier and the actress

by the Thames River, and it proceeds to dart

Muriel Beaumont, Daphne du Maurier was born

among various historical periods, all the sections

in London. She was educated at home and then

tied together by Meepers’s attempts to make a

later at schools in France. At 20 she visited Corn-

continuous story from London’s history.

wall, in southwest England, and immediately felt

Duffy offered more of her own experience of

spiritually connected to the landscape. Du Mau-

the city in Londoners: An Elegy (1983), a tribute

rier lived in Cornwall for most of her life. In 1932

to the wartime London she knew as a child—“My

she married Frederick Arthur Montague Brown-

hometown was danced away round a VJ bon-

ing, a major in the Grenadier Guards who was 10

fire”—and to the sheer complexity of contempo-

years her senior. They had three children.

rary London, full of so many different people,

Du Maurier’s fiction largely consisted of gothic

cultures, sexualities, and classes.

romances, historical adventures, and tales of the

Dunant, Sarah 149

supernatural. She achieved popular success with

ries, descriptions of the countryside, and a mys-

Rebecca (1938), a psychological ghost story. In this

tery—and made out of them a haunting book.”

novel a wealthy man, and through him his inno-

Du Maurier’s short story “Don’t Look Now”

cent second wife, are haunted by the memory of his

(1972), a much transformed version of “Little Red

first wife, Rebecca. The novel is told in the first per-

Riding Hood,” even more spookily mixes and cor-

son by the second wife (at 21 she is half her spouse’s

rupts elements of time. It uses a holiday setting,

age), who is never referred to by name, despite the

a decaying Venice, to relate a frightening adven-

novel’s abundant dialogue. Rebecca is one of three

ture about marital sorrow—the death of a child is

symbolical forces arrayed against the narrator;

involved—and guilt. A comment that biographer

the other two are her husband’s enormous coun-

Richard Kelly has made about this story applies

try estate and its black-clad housekeeper, who still

widely to the author’s work: “Du Maurier does not

communes with the mansion’s former mistress.

develop her characters to the point where we can

Critics attacked the book for its stilted writing

have any strong feelings of sympathy for them.

(“She waited a moment. I did not say anything.

Instead, we watch with curiosity what happens to

Then she went out of the room. She can’t frighten


me anymore, I thought”); the thinness of the nov-

Many of du Maurier’s supernatural short sto-

el’s psychology; and its resemblance to other nov-

ries are precise and gripping. Exemplary in this

els, especially Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, which

regard is “The Birds” (1952), in which masses

du Maurier had loved since childhood. Still, the

of birds, rebelling against human exploitation,

Times (London) review found such flaws “easy to

attack people. In 1965 Alfred Hitchcock turned

overlook” because of the novel’s “atmosphere of

this story into another film.

genuine terror.” Alfred Hitchcock’s first U.S. film,

Du Maurier’s memoir, Enchanted Cornwal

based on the novel, won the 1940 Academy Award

(1992), was published posthumously. Judith Cook

for best picture.

notes that du Maurier’s work “developed and

Du Maurier tackled the theme of the doppel-

matured over the years but, partly as a result of

gänger (double) in The Scapegoat (1957). Her next

her early success, the development shown in her

novel, The House on the Strand (1969), has no look-

later writing was underestimated.”

alikes, but it intriguingly provides the narrator,

Dick Young, with two variations on the double:

Another Work by Daphne du Maurier

Magnus Lane, to whose Dr. Jekyll he plays Mr.

The Glass Blowers. 1963. Reprint, Cutchogue, N.Y.:

Hyde by ingesting the drug his friend has con-

Buccaneer Books, 1999.

cocted; and Roger Kylmerth, whom he meets in

his ensuing time travels to the 14th century, where

Works about Daphne du Maurier

he also falls in love. The quest for identity here is

Horner, Avril, and Sue Zlosnik. Daphne du Maurier:

ambiguous, and the crossing of time reflects the

Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination.

popular interest of the 1960s in expanding con-

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

sciousness through hallucinogenic means. Du

Leng, Flavia. Daphne du Maurier: A Daughter’s Mem-

Maurier’s writing remains overwrought: “My

oir. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1997.

mind, usually clear when I had taken the drug,

was stupefied, baffled; I had expected something

akin to the autumn day that I remembered from

Dunant, Sarah (Linda Dunant) (1950– )

the previous time, when Bodrugan had been


drowned.” Yet, as critic Judith Cook writes, the

Sarah Dunant was born in London and studied

novel “pulled together the threads of much of [du

history at Newnham College, Cambridge. She

Maurier’s] earlier work—recreation of past centu-

began working as a producer for the BBC in 1974

150 Dunn, Nell

and until recently hosted its leading radio arts

art history. By the 1960s she had left her comfort-

program, Nightwaves. She has written eight novels

able life in Chelsea to live in Clapham, where she

and two books of essays. Dunant has two children

worked in factories and a nightclub to gather

and lives in both London and Florence, Italy.

material for her fiction. Dunn’s short story col-

Dunant is perhaps best known for her literary

lection, Up the Junction, was published in 1963.

creation, feminist private eye Hannah Wolfe. Wolfe

One critic noted her striking ability to report on

appears in three novels, Birth Marks (1991), Fat-

the working-class Britons, “built on their dialect,

lands (1993), and Under My Skin (1995). Although

street signs, bits of popular music, the clichéd

the narrator is often cynical and humorous, each

and repetitious folk-wisdom of ghetto life.”

of the novels deals with a serious contemporary

Dunn’s first novel, Poor Cow (1967), centers

issue. Birth Marks tackles surrogate motherhood;

on a single character, Joy, a young mother with

Fatlands takes on animal rights and experimenta-

a failed marriage behind her. She gets involved

tion on animals; and Under My Skin deals with

with men who have nothing to offer her. Critic

cosmetic surgery. Hannah is a tough, hard-boiled

V. S. Pritchett wrote that the realistic dialogue

investigator who also has to deal with hard-to-

revealed “the exposed, unsupported, morally

handle boyfriends and sexist police officers.

anonymous condition of people who have noth-

Dunant has also written two novels that are

ing that can mean much to them.”

set in Renaissance Italy, The Birth of Venus (2003)

In addition to her novels, Dunn has written

and In the Company of the Courtesan (2006). The

plays. In Steaming (1981), the subject again is

Birth of Venus tells the story of Alessandra Cec-

mainly working-class women, here seen in a Lon-

chi, a free-spirited young woman with a passion

don Turkish bath, which is threatened with being

for art and for a certain young artist who lives

closed down. The six female characters vary in

in Florence during the reign of the monk Savon-

age and class, but they are united in their needs

arola, known for his Bonfire of the Vanities. He

and disappointments and galvanized by their

and his colleagues confiscated and burned items

successful campaign against closing the bath to

they connected with moral laxity, such as cloth-

take some decisive action in their own lives. One

ing, books, musical instruments, and paintings.

reviewer characterized Steaming as “a gentle piece

In the Company of the Courtesan is set in Venice

of female consciousness-raising.” The play won

and tells the story of Fiammetta Bianchini and

the Society of West End Theatre Award in 1982,

her dwarf companion Bucino Teodoldo as they

among other awards.

endure the horrors of the 1527 sack of Rome and

Dunn has also compiled books of interviews

Fiammetta’s triumph as the flame-haired model

with women ( Talking to Women [1965]) and with

for the painter Titian’s Venus of Urbino.

people pursuing alternate lifestyles ( Living Like

I Do [1976]). In 1969 she cowrote, with Susan

Other Works by Sarah Dunant

Campbell, a children’s story, Freddy Gets Mar-

Mapping the Edge. New York: Random House, 2002.

ried. More recent publications have been Grand-

Snowstorms in a Hot Climate. New York: Random

mothers Talking to Nell Dunn (a sequel to Talking

House, 2005.

to Women) and a sequel to Poor Cow called My

Transgressions. New York: Random House, 2005.

Silver Shoes, in which Joy is now living next door

to her mother and coping with growing older.

Both books were published in 1991.

Dunn, Nell (1936– ) novelist, short story

writer, playwright

A Work about Nell Dunn

Nell Mary Dunn was born in London and raised

Wandor, Michlene. Drama Today: A Critical Guide

on an estate in Wiltshire, England. After attend-

to British Drama, 1970–1990. London: Longman,

ing a convent school, she went to London to study


Durcan, Paul 151

Dunsany, Lord (Edward John Moreton

a one-act play, The Glittering Gate, in which two

Drax Plunkett) (1878–1957) novelist, short

burglars break into the locked gates of heaven to

story writer, playwright, poet

find nothing but a blue, star-filled void. If (1921),

Lord Dunsany was born in London as Edward

in which time travel alters the past to create a new

John Moreton Drax Plunkett and spent much of

present, is considered his best full-length drama.

his childhood at his ancestral castle near Dub-

At one time five of his plays were in production

lin, Ireland. He became the 18th Lord Dunsany

on Broadway.

when his father died in 1899. After graduating

Dunsany’s works include short stories, novels,

from Sandhurst, the British military academy,

memoirs, more than 40 plays, and nine books of

Dunsany achieved the rank of captain. A hunting

poetry. Although he received little respect from

enthusiast, he traveled to Africa to hunt big game,

critics after his death, today he is recognized as an

and his skill at chess earned him the title of Irish

early master of the fantasy genre and the greatest


British fantasy writer of the 20th century.

Dunsany’s first book, The Gods of Pegana

(1905), is set in what he called “the country of my

Other Works by Lord Dunsany

dreams.” Critic Martin Gardner has compared

Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany: A Correspon-

the “elaborate mythology” of the stories to that

dence. Edited by Keith Allen Daniels. Ridgecrest,

of J. R. R. Tolkien. The Book of Wonder (1913),

Calif.: Anamnesis Press, 1998.

which contains more tales about “the things that

The Curse of the Wise Woman. London: Sphere,

befell gods and men” in Dunsany’s imaginary


lands, is prefaced with this invitation: “Come

with me, ladies and gentlemen who are in any

Works about Lord Dunsany

wise weary of London: come with me: and those

Joshi, S. T. Lord Dunsany: Master of the Anglo-Irish

that tire at all of the world we know: for we have

Imagination. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995.

new worlds here.”

Schweitzer, Darrell, and Tim Kirk. Pathways to Elf-

Dunsany’s work is characterized by what he

land: The Writings of Lord Dunsany. Holicong,

describes as “two lights that do not seem very

Pa.: Wildside Press, 1989.

often to shine together, poetry and humor.”

Humor dominates his tales about Joseph Jorkens,

a notorious liar who appears in five books set in

Durcan, Paul (1944– ) poet

a London club. A complaint from W. B. Yeats

Born into a family of lawyers in Dublin, Ireland,

spurred Dunsany to write about Irish themes,

Paul Durcan was educated at Gonzaga College

including a vivid description of his native land-

and University College, Cork, where he earned

scape in My Ireland (1937).

his B.A. and studied archaeology and medieval

Dunsany’s fantasy novels are considered clas-

history. Durcan is known as a social critic and

sics of the genre. George Russell praised The

satirist. He became known not only through

King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924), in which a mor-

his publications but through his public perfor-

tal prince goes to Elfland searching for his bride,

mances of his poetry. He has gained a reputation

as “the most purely beautiful thing Lord Dun-

for wit, energy, and his attacks on Irish social

sany has written,” filled with lyrical descriptions

and religious institutions as well as abusers

of Elfland and characters “symbolic of our own

of women, the pious, the opinionated, and the

spiritual adventures.” Others consider The Char-


woman’s Shadow (1926) Dunsany’s masterwork.

Although Durcan began publishing in the late

Both of these novels have recently been reissued.

1960s, his poetry gained serious critical notice

During this lifetime, Dunsany was best known

only in 1982 with The Selected Paul Durcan.

for his plays. In 1909, at Yeats’s request, he wrote

After the breakup of his marriage in the 1980s,

152 Durrell, Gerald Malcolm

his poems became more introspective and overtly

After World War II, Durrel was an assistant

feminist. He won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry

keeper at Whipsnade, a special zoo for the breeding

in 1990 for the poetry collection Daddy, Daddy,

and preservation of animals. While there he kept

written in tribute to his late father. As is typical

a detailed diary, which he turned into A Bevy of

of his work, this collection also touched on his

Beasts (1973). After conducting research on imper-

political, religious, and social concerns.

iled Père David deer, he aspired to acquire his own

Seamus Heaney has noted a “tension between

zoo. A smal inheritance received at the age of 21

the lyrical and the anti-lyrical, between inten-

enabled him to undertake a series of wildlife col-

sity and irony, between innocence and fear” in

lecting expeditions. He visited the Cameroons,

Durcan’s work. Durcan embraces political non-

British Guiana (now Guyana), Argentina, Paraguay,

partisanship (he opposes both the British and

Patagonia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Aus-

Irish Republican Army) and portrays violence

tralia, New Zealand, and Malaya. BBC-TV films

as “the outcome of monstrous fantasies that

were made of two of these trips; he also hosted TV

sacrilegiously deny the minutiae on which life

specials about animals. Encounters with Animals

and creativity depend.” His poetry col ections

(1958) col ects his radio talks. In 1979 he married

Crazy about Women (1991) and Give Me Your

Lee Wilson McGeorge, an American zoologist who

Hand (1994) are his responses to paintings in the

col aborated with him on The Amateur Naturalist:

National Galleries of Ireland and Britain.

A Practical Guide to the Natural World (1983).

In the late 1950s income from Durrell’s books

Other Works by Paul Durcan

finally enabled him to establish his own zoo on

The Art of Life. London: The Harvill Press, 2004.

a 35-acre site in the Channel Islands, including a

Cries of an Irish Caveman. London: Harvill, 2001.

17th-century manor house named “Les Augrès.”

A Snail in My Prime. New York: Penguin, 1995.

Durrell described how the zoo came into being

Teresa’s Bar. Dublin: The Gallery Press, 1976.

in Menagerie Manor (1965) and The Stationary

Ark (1976). Still running, the Jersey Zoo is dedi-

A Work about Paul Durcan

cated to saving endangered animals and species

Tóibin, Colm. The Kilfenora Teaboy: A Study of Paul

and is now a major tourist attraction with more

Durcan. Dublin: New Island Books, 1996.

than 200,000 visitors a year. In 1963 Durrell also

founded the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.

In addition to his nonfiction books, Durrell

Durrell, Gerald Malcolm (1925–1995)

published a handful of novels and short story col-

nonfiction writer, memoirist, children’s writer

lections about animals for children, among which

Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India,

are Rosie Is My Relative, about a tipsy elephant

to Lawrence Samuel Durrell, an Anglo-Irish civil

(1968); and The Mockery Bird (1982), which is set

engineer, and Louisa Florence (Dixie) Durrell.

on a mythical island.

His elder brother was poet and novelist Law-

rence Durrell.

A Work about Gerald Durrell

Durrell recalled his happy childhood in the

Botting, Douglas. Gerald Durrel : The Authorized

memoirs My Family and Other Animals (1956);

Biography. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.

Birds, Beasts and Relatives (1969); and The Gar-

den of the Gods (1979), republished as Fauna and

Family. As a toddler he loved to visit the local

Durrell, Lawrence (1912–1990) novelist,

zoo. Educated by private tutors in Greece, France,

short story writer, poet, playwright, nonfiction

Italy, and Switzerland, he recalled the tutelage of


naturalist Theodore Stephanides on Corfu in Fil-

Lawrence Durrell was born in India, near the

lets of Plaice (1971).

Tibetan border, to Lawrence Samuel Durrell,

Durrell, Lawrence 153

a civil engineer, and his wife, Louisa. Both of

(1945) and Reflections on a Marine Venus (1953),

Durrell’s parents had been born in India, and

that have been classified as “island books.” These

though of British heritage, they both considered

books, though focused on a particular place, are

themselves to be more Indian than British. Dur-

much more than mere travel books. They make

rell’s younger brother was the naturalist Gerald

each island and its people come alive and evoke the

Durrell, whose autobiographical works give an

history and the mythology of the place. In Bitter

amusing view of the young “Larry.”

Lemons, for example, Durrell describes the island

When he was about 12 years old, Durrell’s par-

as “full of goddesses and mineral springs; ancient

ents sent him to England to study at St. Edmund’s

castles and monasteries; fruit and grain and verdant

School in Canterbury. Durrell was unhappy in

grasslands; priests and gypsies and brigands.”

England and later described life there as “the

While in Cyprus, Durrell began work on Jus-

English death.” When he had completed his sec-

tine, the first volume in the Alexandria Quartet,

ondary schooling, he took but did not pass the

a series of novels set in Alexandria, Egypt, which

entrance examinations to Cambridge University.

portray the same series of events from several dif-

He then worked for a time as a jazz pianist in a

ferent perspectives. After he settled in the Provence


region of France, he completed Justine and its

In 1935 Durrell moved to the Greek island

three companions: Balthazar (1958), Mountolive

of Corfu with the first of his four wives, Nancy

(1958), and Clea (1960). These are widely consid-

Myers. That same year he published his first

ered Durrell’s finest works of fiction.

novel, Pied Piper of Lovers, an autobiographical

In addition to 17 novels, Durrell wrote dozens

work about his life in Bloomsbury, England. He

of volumes of excellent poetry, much of it mod-

also read Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, which

eled on ancient Greek verse; and several volumes

so impressed him that he wrote the author a fan

of short stories, four plays, and numerous works

letter, beginning a correspondence that lasted for

of nonfiction, including A Key to Modern Poetry

45 years. When Durrell was about to publish his

(1952) and his last work, Caesar’s Vast Ghost

second novel, The Black Book: An Agon (1938),

(1990), about his adopted home in Provence. In

Miller counseled him not to give in to his pub-

a review of Durrell’s collected poems in the New

lisher’s suggestion to delete erotic passages.

York Times, critic Harrison E. Salisbury said of

In 1941 Durrell and his wife and baby daugh-

Durrell that

ter were forced to leave Greece to escape from the

advancing Nazi army. They settled for a time in

it is, of course, as a painter with words that his

Cairo, but in 1942 the couple separated and Dur-

talent finds its highest mark. Here is the witch-

rell moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where he worked

ery of phrase and comparison that makes his

for the British Information Office. There he met

pages gleam like new metal. You run through

and married Eve Cohen, who became the model

the poems and the phrases leap out and imbed

for the character Justine in the 1957 novel of the

themselves in your memory—“calm as paint,”

same name.

“swarms of golden hair,” “kisses leave no fin-

In 1952, after living for a period of time in

gerprints,” “soft as an ant’s patrol” or “rosy as

Rhodes, Argentina, and Yugoslavia, Durrell

feet of pigeons pressed in clay.”

bought a home in Cyprus. He hoped to be able to

live out his life there and pursue his writing, but

Durrell’s poetry is sensuous; he revels in images

he was driven away by the conflict between Greek

of sound and touch, and he portrays the joy of

and Turkish factions on the island. One of his

the erotic in glittering terms. Lovers lie near the

greatest works, Bitter Lemons (1957), describes this

Mediterranean “Steeped in each other’s minds

period in his life. Bitter Lemons is just one among

and breathing there / Like wicks inhaling deep in

several of Durrell’s works, including Prospero’s Cel

golden oil . . .”

154 Durrell, Lawrence

Durrell is master of the craft of poetry, able to

exotic—some say overwrought—prose, as seen in

move with ease from the lyric and erotic to dry

this passage from Clea:

wit and sarcasm.

The whole quarter lay drowsing in the umbra-

Critical Analysis

geous violet of approaching nightfall. A sky of

Deeply influenced by the physics of Einstein and

palpitating velours which was cut into by the

the psychology of Freud, Durrell experimented

stark flare of a thousand electric light bulbs. It

with the form of the four novels that make up the

lay over Tatwig Street, that night, like a velvet

Alexandria Quartet in order to reflect the com-


plexity of modern consciousness and modern

existence. Durrell himself said that he wanted

Whatever one thinks of the style, however,

to apply the space-time continuum to a novel.

critics agree on Durrell’s ability to evoke a sense

He described his intention in greater detail in

of place. In reviewing Clea, Orville Prescott of the

an interview with the Manchester Guardian: “It

New York Times wrote:

[The Quartet] is really intended to be a four-

dimensional dance, a relativity poem, and ideally

The Alexandria of Mr. Durrell’s powerful

all four volumes should be read simultaneously

imagination will always be far more real to

as they cover the three sides of space and one

thousands of readers than the actual Mediter-

of time. You might call it a sort of stereoscopic

ranean port, a dream city created by art and

narrative with stereophonic personality.” In this

poetic language that shimmers on the desert

quotation, Durrell is primarily referring to his

horizon of contemporary fiction like an exotic

use of narrative technique, in which the “same”

oasis, repulsive and yet fascinating, reeking of

story is retold from different viewpoints. The

languorous lusts and dreary depravities.

narrator of Justine, Balthazar, and Clea is novel-

ist L. G. Darley, who tells the story of a love affair

An academic journal devoted to the study of

that took place in the Egyptian city of Alexandria

Durrell’s work is entitled Deus Loci, which trans-

just before World War II. The basic story is told in

lates to local god, or the god of the place. All of

the first volume, then kaleidoscopically reexam-

Durrell’s work is, in one way or another, about the

ined and amplified in the subsequent volumes.

spirit or god of the places he portrays, and he uses

In Balthazar Darley quotes other characters who

his considerable powers of language to evoke that

contradict his original story. Mountolive is told

spirit for his readers.

by an omniscient narrator who reveals the “facts”

of the story. Finally, Clea brings the story forward

Other Works by Lawrence Durrell

in time. Central characters in the story include

Col ected Poems, 1931–1974. New York: Viking, 1980.

Darley; his Greek mistress Melissa; the British

Nunquam. New York: Viking, 1979.

ambassador Mountolive; the spy Pursewarden;

Tunc: A Novel. New York: Dutton, 1968.

the artist Clea; and Justine, the Jewish wife of a

wealthy businessman, Nessim, and the object of

Works about Lawrence Durrell

Darley’s obsession. The novels are set in Alexan-

Bowker, Gordon. Through the Dark Labyrinth: A

dria, Egypt, and the city itself becomes an impor-

Biography of Lawrence Durrel . New York: St.

tant character and an integral part of the sexual

Martin’s Press, 1997.

and political intrigue that propels the story.

Lillios, Anna, ed. Lawrence Durrell and the Greek

Critics have been sharply divided on the

World. London: Associated University Press,

Alexandria Quartet since the beginning. Many


thought Durrell should have received the Nobel

Pine, Richard. Lawrence Durrel : The Mindscape.

Prize, while others have objected to Durrell’s lush,

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.


Eagle, Solomon

published his first volume of poetry, Prufrock and

See Squire, John Collings.

Other Observations. The title is taken from “The

Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” whose timid,

fearful narrator stumbles along in a world of

Eastaway, Edward

decaying traditions.

See Thomas, Edward.

In 1919 Poems appeared, containing “Geron-

tion,” a blank-verse interior monologue that

reveals an old man’s disillusionment with the

Eliot, Thomas Stearns (1888–1965) poet,

modern world. The following year Eliot published

playwright, essayist

The Sacred Wood, a collection of critical essays,

T. S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the sev-

among which is “Tradition and the Individual

enth child of Henry Ware Eliot, the president of

Talent,” an examination of the nature of tradition

the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company, and the poet

and its importance to poetry. In 1922 Eliot pub-

Charlotte Champa Stearns. Educated at Harvard,

lished his most famous poem, The Waste Land,

the Sorbonne, and Oxford, Eliot studied Italian

a fragmented, kaleidoscopic presentation of the

Renaissance and 17th-century English literature;

cultural decay that Eliot saw afflicting the mod-

philosophy; and various languages, including

ern world.

Sanskrit. At Harvard he came under the influ-

In 1927 Eliot joined the Anglican Church and,

ence of the scholar Irving Babbitt, whose anti-

three years later, produced “Ash Wednesday,” a

romanticism found a permanent place in Eliot’s

poem about the conflict between faith and doubt.

poetic philosophy. Although Eliot wrote a Ph.D.

His poetic masterpiece, Four Quartets (1943), is

dissertation, he never took the final oral exam to

another religious meditation. Its four sections—

complete the degree.

“Burnt Norton” (1936), “East Coker” (1940),

In 1915 Eliot moved to England, where he

“The Dry Salvages” (1941), and “Little Gidding”

became a British subject 12 years later. He worked

(1941)—originally were published separately, but

first for a bank and then held editorial positions

together they form a unified, though complex,

at the literary magazines Egoist and Criterion

examination of human consciousness, spiritual

and at the publisher Faber and Faber. In 1917 he

immortality, and Christian mysticism.


156 Eliot, Thomas Stearns

Eliot partly attributed the modern world’s

Eliot believed that the poet must be invisible

inadequacies to the decline of religion. In his

in his work, with the language speaking for itself.

essay “A Dialogue on Dramatic Poetry” (1928),

Indeed, when Stephen Spender confessed to

he quipped, “Our literature is a substitute for

Eliot an interest in becoming a poet, Eliot replied

religion, and so is our religion.” In three lectures

that he understood what it meant to write poetry

published collectively as The Idea of a Christian

but not what it meant to be a poet. Rather than

Society (1939), he promoted the concept of small,

use poetry only to give voice to his own feelings,

tightly knit, religiously oriented communities

Eliot sought a degree of objectivity. In his 1920

as an antidote to the loneliness and alienation

essay “Hamlet and His Problems,” he writes,

individuals feel in the modern world. He further

argued that religion and art help to make Europe

The only way of expressing emotion in the

a unified culture in Notes Toward the Definition of

form of art is by finding an “objective cor-

Culture (1949).

relative”; in other words a set of objects, a

Eliot also wrote for the stage. His plays, most

situation, a chain of events which shall be

of them in a tragic-comedic vein, deal with reli-

the formula for that particular emotion; such

gious themes. Murder in the Cathedral (1935),

that, when the external facts . . . are given, the

for instance, centers on the 12th-century conflict

emotion is immediately evoked.

between King Henry II and Thomas Becket, the

archbishop of Canterbury.

Eliot, however, was conscious of the difficulty of

In 1948 Eliot was awarded a Nobel Prize in

conveying precise meaning through language,

literature. Two decades after his death, his light-

lamenting in “Burnt Norton,” that “Words strain,

hearted poems in Old Possum’s Book of Practi-

/ Crack and sometimes break, under the burden.”

cal Cats (1939) inspired the long-running stage

musical Cats (1981). The American critic Edmund

Critical Analysis

Wilson noted that Eliot immediately and forever

The Waste Land demonstrates much of Eliot’s

changed the tone of literature, that his works

poetic philosophy. Written in five sections, this

“turned out to be unforgettable poems, which

poem is a relentless portrayal of the blasted, with-

everyone was trying to rewrite.”

ered cultural landscape of the modern world.

Central to Eliot’s work is his appreciation for

According to Eliot, the title, along with much of

tradition, which transmits ideas across genera-

the poem’s symbolism, was suggested by a 1920

tions. The numerous allusions to classical works

book, From Ritual to Romance by Jessie L. Weston.

in his poetry are not intended to undermine and

He also relied on The Golden Bough (1890) by Sir

mock those works but to remind the reader of the

James Frazer for source material in writing The

pieces of a once-great culture that are scattered

Waste Land.

around us at all times.

From Weston, Eliot took the idea of a waste-

Eliot wrote of all artists’ indebtedness to the

land ruled by a Fisher King (the fish is an ancient

past in the essay “Tradition and the Individual

Christian symbol), with both land and king made

Talent,” in which he argues that tradition is not

sterile by an evil spell. Salvation awaits the arrival

a mere repetition of the immediate past. Instead,

of a virtuous knight who can lift the spell by find-

for a poet tradition is created from a European lit-

ing the Holy Grail, the vessel out of which Christ

erary heritage that stretches back to Homer. Poets

drank at the Last Supper, and thus restore life to

forge their own individual traditions by using the

the land and sexual potency to the king. At the

works from any period and in any language. To

end of The Waste Land, however, it is uncertain

Eliot the past is not “dead, but . . . what is already

whether the modern world is capable of salva-


tion—or even willing to receive it.

Ellis, Alice Thomas 157

In The Waste Land Eliot combines imagery

disrupted and ugly tedium . . . broken glimpses of

from his classical education with visions of urban

what was.”

squalor. Thus, the poem opens with lines that

echo and parody the beginning of Chaucer’s Can-

Other Works by T. S. Eliot

terbury Tales. Where in Chaucer’s prologue April

The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909–1950. New

brings life-giving rain, in Eliot’s poem it is the

York: Harcourt Brace, 1952.

“cruellest month.”

Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917. Ed-

The poem quickly moves on to the petty details

ited by Christopher Ricks. New York: Harcourt,

of modern life, such as gossip and memories of

Brace, 1997.

a childhood sled ride. Adults in the world of The

Selected Essays: 1917–1932. New York: Harcourt

Waste Land bicker in familiar-sounding ways

Brace, 1950.

about marriage, children, and money. Behind

them is the dreary city backdrop enveloped in

Works about T. S. Eliot

“the brown fog of a winter dawn.” Scholar Lyndall

Bloom, Harold, ed. T. S. Eliot. New York: Chelsea

Gordon says Eliot creates “a psychological hell in

House, 1999.

which . . . one is quite alone.”

Davidson, Harrit, ed. T. S. Eliot. New York: Long-

The Waste Land also exemplifies Eliot’s idea

man, 1999.

of tradition with its mix of different languages.

Donoghue, Dennis. Words Alone: The Poet T. S. Eliot.

The poet breaks into German several times

New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000.

in the first section and sprinkles Italian and

Gordon, Lyndall. T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life. New

French quotations throughout. The poem quotes

York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

or refers to some 35 writers, including Dante,

Miller, James E. T. S. Eliot: The Making of an Ameri-

Baudelaire, Verlaine, Spenser, Shakespeare, and

can Poet, 1888–1922. University Park: Pennsylva-

St. Augustine.

nia State University Press, 2005.

The style of The Waste Land is fragmented, for

Moody, A. David. The Cambridge Companion to

at the urging of the American poet Ezra Pound,

T. S. Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Eliot cut the original 800 lines down to 400. As a

Press, 1994.

result the poem moves abruptly from the realism

of the modern city to the mythological land of the

Fisher King and back again. Humor is juxtaposed

Ellerman, Annie Winifred

with the somber. As scholar F. O. Matthiessen

See Bryher.

observes, Eliot “omitted logical connectives and

the reader must find his own way through this

‘music of ideas’ in a way . . . analogous to associat-

Ellis, Alice Thomas (Anna Haycraft)

ing . . . themes in a symphony.”

(1932–2005) novelist

In the end even the moments of beauty in The

Alice Thomas Ellis was born in Liverpool to a father

Waste Land are undermined by reminders of ugli-

of Russo-Finnish ancestry and a Welsh mother.

ness: Thus “splendour of Ionian white and gold” is

She attended Bangor County Grammar School in

followed immediately by a river sweating “oil and

Gwynedd and the Liverpool School of Art. Ellis

tar.” Edmund Wilson observes that “Eliot uses the

converted to Catholicism at age 19 and was a pos-

Waste Land as the concrete image of a spiritual

tulant at a Liverpool convent, but she had to leave

drought.” The poem leaves one with the sense,

because of a back injury. In 1956 she married Colin

says the scholar Gilbert Seldes, that “life had been

Haycraft, the chairman of the Duckworth Publish-

rich, beautiful, assured, organized, lofty, and now

ing House. She subsequently worked as a fiction

is dragging itself out in a poverty-stricken and

editor at Duckworth for many years.

158 Enright, Anne

Ellis’s first novel, The Sin Eater (1977), describes

in the face of some ultimate good,” and comments

a family that gathers at their Welsh country

that Ellis “writes intelligent novels that seem not

estate while the patriarch is dying. Like many of

to take themselves too seriously, and . . . writes

Ellis’s works, the book contains manifestations

with clarity and wit.”

of the Devil, who exerts his influence in causing

conflicts among family members. Critic Jeremy

Another Work by Alice Thomas Ellis

Treglown described it as “an impressively self-

Pil ars of Gold. New York: Viking, 1992.

confident novel, full of uncomfortable jokes and

sharp perceptions.”

Also in 1977, Ellis published a parents’ guide

Enright, Anne (1962– ) novelist, short story

to baby care, Natural Baby Food, under the name

writer, essayist

Anne Haycraft. Her second novel, The Birds of

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1962, Anne Enright

the Air (1980), is a social comedy about Barbara,

attended Trinity College, where she studied phi-

a woman who has recently lost a father and a son

losophy. She also completed a master’s degree in

and who has discovered her husband’s affair. Ellis

creative writing at the University of East Anglia,

frequently writes about moral choices and absurd

where her instructors included the writers

situations people face, as when, in this book,

Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury.

she describes Barbara’s unsuccessful attempt to

Enright then worked for six years as a producer

seduce Hunter, her homosexual publisher.

and director for the RTÉ (Radio Telefis Éireann),

The 27th Kingdom (1982) describes the struggle

the national Irish broadcasting company. She

between good and evil when a West Indian pos-

produced the late-night show Nighthawks for

tulant comes to live at a boardinghouse run by a

four years and then spent two years working in

middle-aged woman and her bizarre nephew. Like

children’s programming.

many of Ellis’s works, the novel contains elements

In 1991, Enright’s collection of short stories,

of magic and mysticism, including an anthropo-

The Portable Virgin, won the Rooney Prize for

morphized swimming cat and devils that take the

Irish Literature. Two years later Enright left the

form of pigeons.

RTÉ to write full time.

Ellis is considered a leading member of “the

To date she has written five novels, a nonfiction

Duckworth Gang,” a name given to a group of

work on motherhood, and numerous essays and

women writers, including Beryl Bainbridge,

reviews for magazines such as the New Yorker, the

whose works were published by the Duckworth

Parts Review, the London Review of Books, and

Publishing House. These writers have a com-

the Irish Times. Enright’s first novel, The Wig My

mon style, writing short novels with a touch of

Father Wore (1995), is narrated by an Irishwoman

the macabre and the bizarre, about women fac-

named Grace. In this work, as in her three sub-

ing domestic crises. In Unexplained Laughter

sequent novels, Enright introduces an element

(1987) Ellis describes Lydia, a London woman

of fantasy, as an angel who had previously com-

who is staying at her Welsh cottage and seeking

mitted suicide, moves in with Grace. In What Are

to restore meaning to her life after a failed love

You Like? (2000), twin sisters separated at birth

affair. While out in her garden one evening she

learn of each other’s existence and set off to find

hears a mysterious laughter, and then “the soft

one another. The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2003) is

tread of something moving closer, the susurra-

a fictionalized version of the life of Eliza Lynch, an

tion of something being unsheathed, the breath

Irishwoman who was the mistress of the president

of someone hissing through his teeth.”

of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López. (American

Critic Harriet Waugh characterizes Ellis’s

writer Lily Tuck has also written a novel about

works as “short, edged comedies of human failure

Lynch called The News from Paraguay. )

Ewart, Gavin Buchanan 159

Enright’s novel The Gathering won the presti-

without wanting to / convert them or pervert

gious Booker Prize for 2007. This novel about

them . . .” When reviewing that volume, a Times

the gathering of a large family for the funeral of

Literary Supplement critic wrote, “scarcely a poem

one of the brothers has been lavished with criti-

in the book fails to produce a rewarding image,

cal praise. Liesl Schillinger’s review in the New

a satisfactory visual detail, a piece of interesting

York Times begins, “Reckless intelligence, savage

local colour.” Enright’s poetry displays an ironic

humor, slow revelation, no consolation: Anne

wit and often addresses social problems. In “Elegy

Enright’s fiction is jet dart—but how it glitters.”

in a Country Suburb” in The Old Adam (1965), he

Peter Behrens of the Washington Post Review

decries the violence between Chinese and Malay-

says, “There is something livid and much that is

sian gangs: “A party of Malays / Lopping an old

stunning about The Gathering . . Anger brushes

man’s Chinese head.”

off every page, a species of rage that aches to con-

In addition to poetry, Enright also wrote literary

front silence and speak truth at last.”

essays and works of criticism. He frequently dis-

cussed German literature, including the authors

Another Work by Anne Enright

Goethe, Thomas Mann, and Stefan George. A

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood. Lon-

collection of his book reviews and essays was

don: Jonathan Cape, 2004.

published in Man Is an Onion (1972). He has also

written novels, such as Figures of Speech (1965),

which explore the lives of English people living

Enright, Dennis Joseph (1920–2002)

in Asia. Enright, however, remains best known

poet, essayist, critic, novelist

for his poetry. Literary scholar William Walsh

D. J. Enright was born in Leamington, Warwick-

observes that over his career, Enright “matured

shire, England, to George Enright, a postman,

as a poet, developing a uniquely personal purity

and Grace Cleaver Enright. He studied English

of style, extending his scope and preserving in a

at Cambridge under the noted literary critic F. R.

world working constantly against it an incorrupt-

Leavis and received a B.A. degree in 1944 and an

ible wholeness and truth of self.”

M.A. degree in 1946. In the 1950s and 1960s he

held positions at universities in England, Egypt,

Other Works by D. J. Enright

Germany, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. In the

Col ected Poems. New York: Oxford University

1970s Enright worked as a coeditor for Encounter

Press, 1981.

magazine and as a director for Chatto & Windus

A Faust Book. New York: Oxford University Press,



Laughing Hyena and Other Poems (1953) is

the first of Enright’s numerous poetry collec-

Works about D. J. Enright

tions. Like much of his verse that followed, the

Simms, Jacqueline, ed. Life By Other Means: Essays

volume contains poems expressing his admira-

on D. J. Enright. New York: Oxford University

tion of the people and culture of non-Europeans.

Press, 1990.

Poems such as “Standards” and “Akiko San” in

Walsh, William. D. J. Enright: Poet of Humanism.

the Bread Rather Than Blossoms (1956) volume

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

exhibit Enright’s talent for empathetic descrip-

tions of working-class peoples who live in poverty

around the world. In “Dreaming in the Shanghai

Ewart, Gavin Buchanan (1916–1995)

Restaurant” in the Addictions (1962) collection,

poet, editor

he writes of his admiration for an elderly Chinese

Gavin Ewart was born in London to George

man he observed: “He is interested in people,

Arthur Ewart, a surgeon, and Dorothy Turner

160 expressionism

Ewart. He attended Cambridge and received his

Ewart continued publishing volumes of verse

B.A. degree in 1937. During World War II, he saw

through the 1980s, including two collections

active duty in the Royal Artillery. After leaving

for children. He also edited numerous antholo-

the service, Ewart worked from 1946 to 1952 as

gies, including the Penguin Book of Light Verse

an assistant in the book review department of the

(1980). Critic Philip Toynbee wrote that despite

British Council. He spent the next 20 years as a

Ewart’s satire, “what he continually shows is true

copywriter at advertising agencies.

sympathy; a real fellow-feeling for many kinds

At age 17 Ewart published his first poem,

of people who are normally despised or, at best,

“Phallus in Wonderland,” an irreverent parody


of the Lewis Carroll classic, in the literary maga-

zine New Verse. Soon after college he published

Other Works by Gavin Ewart

his first collection, Poems and Songs (1939). Fore-

Alphabet Soup. Oxford, England: Sycamore Press,

shadowing his future writings, the volume con-


tained several examples of light verse on sexual

Like it or Not. London: Badley Head, 1992.

themes. The poem “Audenesque for an Initiation”

acknowledges the influence of W. H. Auden on

A Work about Gavin Ewart

his work. In “The Fourth of May” he reflects on

Stephen W. Delchamps. Civil Humor: The Poetry of

his unhappy days at a public school.

Gavin Ewart. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ewart’s collection Pleasures of the Flesh (1966)

University Press, 2002.

was banned by the bookstore W. H. Smith & Son

for its bold sexual themes. In the poem “Office

Friendships” he addresses the issue of sexual urges


at the workplace: “It’s a wonderful change from

Expressionism was a movement that spread from

wives and work / And it ends at half past five.”

art to literature, notably drama and poetry, exert-

In his later collections he combines his humorous

ing considerable influence on modernism. It

observations of sexual fantasies with poems about

flourished shortly before and after World War I

war memories and family life. The Col ected Ewart

and was at its height in Germany between 1915

(1980) includes “Trafalgar Day,” a poem written

and 1920. Expressionist art portrays a highly

about his daughter on her 16th birthday: “you’d

subjective vision of life, rebelling against realistic

be soft-hearted; and / the emotion you inspire in

representation in favor of abstract art that conveys

me could, loosely, be called love.”

individual emotions rather than collective experi-

Ewart’s later verse contains liberal social

ence. It was a youth movement motivated by anger

commentary, as seen in his 1974 poem “The

against the older generation, filled, before World

Gentle Sex,” describing an incident in which

War I, with restlessness and a sense of doom, and

several Belfast women beat a political oppo-

afterward with despair and disillusionment.

nent to death. Even in his later years, however,

Artistic forerunners of expressionism were

Ewart never departed from the humorous ob-

painters Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and

servations of human behavior and unashamed

James Ensor, who depicted primal emotions or,

discussion of erotic themes that made him fa-

avoiding an objective portrayal of nature, ren-

mous. Critic Anthony Thwaite wrote in 1978,

dered it with unprecedented intensity. One of the

“One of the few bright features about poetry in

artworks that best epitomizes expressionism is

the late 1970s is that Gavin Ewart is growing

Munch’s The Scream, in which nature itself cries

old disgracefully. . . . He grows more prolific,

out in distress. Principal expressionist artistic

wider-ranging, funnier, and more scabrous as

groups included Les Fauves (1905), Die Brücke

the years go by.”

(1906), and Der blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)

expressionism 161

(1907); principal theorists were Wilhelm Worrin-

with writer/painter Wyndham Lewis, poet Ezra

ger and Wassily Kandinsky.

Pound, and sculptors Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Expressionist drama is dedicated to expressing

and Jacob Epstein. Vorticism was an antimimetic

internal rather than external reality. It frequently

movement contemporaneous with imagism.

features a protagonist searching for identity, sur-

The collaborative verse dramas written by W.

rounded by stereotypical types. Other features are

H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood for the

stylized acting, harsh lighting, and strange musi-

Group Theatre in the 1930s— The Dog beneath

cal effects that create a dreamlike atmosphere.

the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1927), and On

August Strindberg was a forerunner of expres-

the Frontier (1938)—were expressionist, having

sionist drama; among other exponents were Rein-

been influenced by Brechtian epic drama. In the

hold Sorge, Georg Büchner, Walter Hasenclever,

United States, several plays in the 1920s, such as

and Frank Wedekind. Some early plays by Bertolt

Eugene O’Neill’s The Great God Brown (1922) and

Brecht are expressionist—for example, Baal and

The Hairy Ape (1923), and Elmer Rice’s The Add-

Drums in the Night (both 1922). Among German

ing Machine (1923), were expressionistic. Such

expressionist poets were George Heym, Gottfried

drama often protested aspects of modern life such

Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Georg Trakl, and

as materialism and industrialization.

August Stramm.

English-language literature offers few exam-

A Work about Expressionism

ples of expressionism. One offshoot was the short-

Furness, R. S. Expressionism. London: Methuen,

lived movement vorticism (1912–15), associated



Fairfield, Cicely Isabel

residence from 2000 to 2002 at Dove Cottage in

See West, Rebecca.

Grasmere, the home of William Wordsworth.

Farley’s second collection, The Ice Age (2002),

demonstrated greater confidence and mastery than

Farley, Paul (1965– ) poet, playwright

his debut and garnered him the coveted Whitbread

Paul Farley was born to a working-class family

Award for poetry. He also demonstrated his ver-

(his father was a high-rise window washer) in

satility as a poet, writing of subjects as disparate

Liverpool in 1965. He says he had a happy child-

as failing memory, a train ride from Liverpool to

hood, although it was difficult for his family

London, the river Mersey, everyday kitchen objects,

to understand his desire to attend the Chelsea

and the tendency of “Big Safe Themes” in poetry to

School of Art, where he studied painting. “Art

“walk all over / incest and morris dancing in their

college was the first poncy hurdle my family had

ten-league boots.” His style is never difficult, but

to overcome . . . they weren’t obstructive but they

rather quite accessible, which has contributed to

did groan. I think they were bemused, largely,”

his popularity; on the other hand, his approach

Farley has said.

does not preclude the use of original and insightful

While still in school in the mid-1980s, Farley

imagery, such as when he depicts his childhood in

began writing poetry, turning his full attention to

Liverpool as a thornbush, a tangle of family rela-

the craft in the mid-1990s. He had an auspicious

tionships, and detritus from consumer society and

start, winning the 1996 Observer Avron award for

the natural world. Of his accessibility, Farley has

“Laws of Gravity,” a poem about his father, who

said, “I don’t go out of my way to write poetry that

died in 1986. Two years later, his debut collec-

appeals to everyone, just as I wouldn’t try to make

tion, The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You,

it deliberately difficult. . . . there’s a part of me that

won the Forward Prize and a Somerset Maugham

loves the idea of people from a similar background

Award. In this collection, Farley wrote about his

to me reading my stuff and feeling that they could

early life in Liverpool as well as about paintings

write poetry too, because if that doesn’t happen,

and painters. This collection was so well received

then I’m wasting my time.”

that Farley was named Sunday Times Young

Farley’s gifts for transforming the mundane

Writer of the Year in 1999, as well as writer-in-

into the powerfully significant and for mixing


Farrell, M. J. 163

the humorous and the philosophical have won

crawling with white maggots. From the middle of

him an appreciative following. He has lectured on

this object a large eye, bluish and corrupt, gazed

poetry at the University of Lancaster since 2006.

up at the Major, who scarcely had enough time to

In addition to poetry, he has written a number of

reach the bathroom before he began to vomit. . . .”

radio plays.

The Siege of Krishnapur describes a British gar-

rison’s defense of a small town during the Indian

Other Works by Paul Farley

Mutiny of 1857. Farrell is sympathetic to the vir-

Distant Voices, Still Lives. London: BFI Publishing,

tues of British Empire in this book as he relates


the heroic efforts of Mr. Hopkins in defending

Tramp in Flames. London: Picador, 2006.

the town against the sinisterly portrayed Indians.

Critic John Spurling praised the book in the New

Works about Paul Farley

Statesman: “For a novel to be witty is one thing,

Griffin Poetry Prize 2007, International Short list.

to tell a good story is another, to be serious is yet

The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. Avail-

another, but to be all three is surely enough to

able online. URL: http:/ www.griffinpoetryprize.

make it a masterpiece.” The Siege of Krishnapur

com/shortlist_2007.php?t=4. Accessed January 9,

won the Booker Prize in 1973 and was short-


listed for the Best of the Booker in 2008.

Interview with author. Stephanie Merritt. Guardian

The Singapore Grip covers the Japanese cap-

Unlimited. Available online. URL: http://observer.

ture of Singapore during World War II. Here the, 882180,00.html.

declining empire is treated less sympathetically;

Accessed January 9, 2008.

the British characters are portrayed as selfish and

shortsighted. Near the end of the novel, British

businessman Walter Blackett notices spots of soot

Farrell, James Gordon (1935–1979)

on his white linen suit as he watches the city burn.


Farrell uses his actions to describe his moral cor-

J. G. Farrell was born in Liverpool, England, to

ruption: “He tried to brush them off, but that only

Anglo-Irish parents; his father was an accoun-

made them worse. Soon his suit, his shirt and his

tant. Farrell attended Oxford, where he studied

face were covered in oily black smudges.”

French and Spanish. His novel The Lung (1965)

In assessing Farrell’s significance, the critic

tells the story of a victim of polio, a disease he

Nicholas Shrimpton wrote that his “remarkable

contracted while at college. In the 1970s he wrote

trilogy . . . suggests that we too, the British, will

the three books that compose his Empire Trilogy

not properly understand how we live now until

and established his reputation: Troubles (1970),

we make some sense of our neglected national

The Siege of Krishnapur (1973), and The Singapore


Grip (1978).

Troubles is set at the huge but ramshackle

Another Work by J. G. Farrell

Majestic Hotel in Kilnolough, Ireland, during

A Girl in the Head. New York: Harper, 1969.

the Irish uprisings of 1919. The crumbling hotel

is a symbol for the collapse of the British Empire,

A Work about J. G. Farrell

which Farrell portrays with sympathy. Critics

Binns, Ronald. J. G. Farrel . New York: Methuen,

noted its lively details and flashes of dark humor.


For example, Farrell uses a rotting sheep’s head

that British major Brendan Archer discovers in

his room to represent the decay of the Irish body

Farrell, M. J.

politic: “In the chamber pot was a decaying object

See Keane, Molly.

164 Faulks, Sebastian

Faulks, Sebastian (1953– ) novelist,

cators of the pressure of public attitudes . . . [and]


in their premature ends is a natural poignancy.”

Faulks was educated at Wellington College and

Recently the estate of the late novelist Ian

Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was the first

Fleming commissioned Faulks to write a new

literary editor of the Independent, later becoming

James Bond novel entitled Devil May Care (2008),

the deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday.

in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Flem-

In 1991 he left journalism to concentrate on his

ing’s birth. Set in 1967, Faulks’s version presents


a Bond who is somewhat more vulnerable than

Faulks’s first novel, A Trick of the Light (1984),

Fleming’s hero.

tells the story of a young Frenchman who has

come to London to recover from a love affair gone

Other Works by Sebastian Faulks

bad. Although well received at the time of its pub-

Engleby. London: Hutchinson, 2007.

lication, Faulks has not allowed it to be printed in

Human Traces. London: Hutchinson, 2005.

paperback and now says, “It’s so far from what I

On Green Dolphin Street. London: Hutchinson,

went on to write that I think it was a distraction, a


kind of throat-clearing.”

Pistache. London: Hutchinson, 2006.

Faulks is best known for his three novels that

are sometimes referred to as his French trilogy,

The Girl at the Lion d’Or (1989), Birdsong (1993),

Feinstein, Elaine (1930– ) poet, novelist

and Charlotte Grey (1998). All three novels are set

Born in Bootle, Lancashire, England, to Isidore

in France during the period from 1910 to 1945,

and Fay Compton Cooklin, Elaine Feinstein

encompassing both world wars. The Girl at the Lion

received a B.A. (1952) and an M.A. (1955) in Eng-

d’Or is set in post–World War I France and tells

lish from Cambridge University. She then served

the story of the ill-fated love affair of Anne Louvet

as an editor for Cambridge University Press, lec-

and an older, married veteran Charles Hartman.

tured at several colleges, and studied for a career

Birdsong begins with the passionate love affair

in law before her first volume of poetry was pub-

between the central character, Stephen Wray-

lished in 1966.

sford, and Isabelle, the wife of a factory owner.

Feinstein is a feminist poet and novelist whose

Soon the romance is overshadowed by the war,

work, according to critic Jennifer Birkett, often

and Stephen is transformed from a naïve, idealis-

presents “landscapes of exile, suffering, and loss.”

tic young man into a war-weary cynic. Charlotte

For example, Feinstein’s early poetry collection,

Grey, which was made into a film starring Cate

In a Green Eye (1966), explores domesticity and

Blanchett in 2002, tells the story of Charlotte and

her deep attachment to various people in her life,

her lover Julien, a fighter in the French Resistance

while also demonstrating the profound influence

during World War II. The French trilogy has been

of the American poet William Carlos Williams

praised for its luscious evocation of France, the

with short, terse lines of verse. Her attention to

passion of its prose, and its theme of the human

domesticity is nowhere more evident than in the

cost of both love and war.

poem “Buying a House for Now,” which begins

Faulks’s 1996 nonfiction work, The Fatal Eng-

joyfully, “To live here, grace / fills me like sun-

lishman: Three Short Lives, tells the stories of the

shine” and goes on to describe the process of

painter Christopher Wood, the RAF pilot Rich-

moving into a new home. Her attachment to

ard Hillary, and the journalist Jeremy Wolfenden.

other people is evident in “Dance for a Dead

All three were brilliant but flawed men who died

Aunt,” which describes her emotions on receiving

youthful, tragic deaths. Of this work, Faulks has

a small inheritance from an aunt after the woman

observed that “short lives are more sensitive indi-

is nothing but “ashes / scattered.” Feinstein is not

Fenton, James 165

limited to such emotional, domestic poems and,

Oxford in 1970. Immediately upon graduation, he

as The Feast of Eurydice (1980) demonstrates,

began a career in journalism, writing for the New

she is capable of using subjects as remote as the

Statesman. Initially he wrote literary criticism,

classical Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice

but he later shifted to politics. His work took him

to explore complex themes, such as the effects of

to both Germany and Indochina, where he served

past generations on the present.

as a foreign correspondent and found a wealth of

As a novelist, two of Feinstein’s most successful

material for his poetry.

novels are The Circle (1970), which follows a char-

Fenton’s interest in poetry began in school

acter named Lena as she searches for joy in life

when he discovered W. H. Auden’s poetry. Auden’s

and ultimately finds it outside of her family obli-

poetry—highly technical, formalistic (using

gations in the solitary comfort of literature; and

defined poetic forms like sonnets and haikus), and

The Survivors (1982), a historical novel about two

often political—appealed to the young Fenton.

Jewish families who move to England from Odessa

Auden’s influence is nowhere more evident than

at the turn of the 20th century. The two families

in Fenton’s first collection of poems, Our Western

live vastly different lives (one affluent, one impov-

Furniture (1968). Written specifically for Oxford’s

erished) in Liverpool, but they are united when

Newdigate undergraduate poetry contest (which

their children marry. The Survivors is remarkable,

he won), this sonnet sequence explores the meet-

according to the critic Neil Philip, for its epic

ing of American and Japanese cultures in the 19th

scope and the author’s ability to “encompass three

century when America was expanding and Japan

generations, to manage such a large cast, without

was emerging from centuries of isolation.

losing sight of the personal, the individual, the

While Our Western Furniture displayed Fen-

sense of the minute as well as the year.” Accord-

ton’s promise as a young poet, the work on which

ing to the scholar Deborah Mitchell, Feinstein is

his reputation stands grew out of the time he spent

“something of a rarity among writers—equally

abroad. Inspired by his time in Germany, “A Ger-

at home in verse and fiction,” achieving a unique

man Requiem” (1981) is an elegy both for the Ger-

“cross-fertilization between narrative and lyric”

man Jews who died in World War II and for the

that allows her to incessantly explore “new and

survivors of the war who struggle daily with their

enriching approaches to writing.”

memories of the past, trying to forget the horrors

they saw and selectively omitting them from the

Other Works by Elaine Feinstein

stories they tell. In lines that capture the essence

Anna of All the Russians: The Life of a Poet under

of this poem, Fenton writes, “It is not your memo-

Stalin. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2005.

ries that haunt you. . . . It is what you have forgot-

Gold. Manchester, England: Carcanet, 2001.

ten, what you must forget.”

Lawrence and the Women: The Intimate Life of D. H.

When Fenton wrote about his experiences in

Lawrence. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Indochina in The Memory of War (1982), he found

Talking to the Dead. Manchester, England: Car-

widespread popular and critical acclaim. As is

canet, 2007.

typical with most of Fenton’s work, the poems

of this collection deal with war and politics in

highly structured verse. In “Cambodia,” for

Fenton, James (1949– ) poet, journalist

instance, Fenton discusses war’s senselessness in

James Fenton was born in Lincoln in eastern

10 rhymed couplets: “One man shall wake from

England to Mary Hamilton Ingoldby Fenton

terror to his bed / Five men shall be dead.” The

and John Charles Fenton, an Anglican priest and

ironic tone imparted by the rhyming couplets

theologian. He attended both public and pri-

describing death in “Cambodia” reappears even

vate schools, eventually earning his degree from

more intensely in “Dead Soldiers.” In this poem

166 Fforde, Jasper

Fenton recounts, in a stark and straightforward

In the late 1980s, Fforde began writing, which

style, a disgustingly decadent lunch of frog legs

he attributes to his experiences in the film indus-

and wine that he had with the military leader of

try: “I think the idea of writing is an extension

Cambodia on a site overlooking an active battle-

of this love [for film]—the idea that given one’s

field. As the leader describes empty wine bottles

imagination there is really nowhere you can’t go,

as “dead soldiers,” it becomes evident that his

no impossible situations that can’t be created,

strange position in the civil war is impossible for

no boundaries that can’t be pushed.” His fiction

the West to understand. Of this war, the West’s

embodies this sentiment to an extreme degree,

expectations “were always wrong,” Fenton writes,

crossing numerous genres and drawing on a

“It was a family war.”

breathtakingly wide range of sources to present

Although Fenton has not been a prolific writer,

a compellingly detailed world full of nonsense as

his work has always been of the highest quality

well as suspense. He alternated working in film

and has consistently earned him comparisons

with writing spells, producing four full novels

to Auden and William Butler Yeats. Accord-

before his fifth, The Eyre Affair, was accepted by a

ing to the critic Julian Symons, “Fenton’s work,

publisher in 2001—after being rejected 76 times.

ironic, elegant, aware of yet always a little detached

In this book, Fforde introduced Thursday

from the suffering it deals with, is the truest social

Next, a bright and bold literary detective, or Lit-

poetry of our time.”

eraTec, who finds her detective work stifling and

would frankly like to be transferred to another

Other Works by James Fenton

department of Special Operations. Next has been

Children in Exile: Poems, 1968–1984. New York:

described by Michiko Kakutani of the New York

Noonday Press, 1994.

Times as “part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew

A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seed. New

and part Dirty Harry.” She lives in 1985, in a

York: Viking, 2001.

parallel world in which literary crime is a serious

Out of Danger. New York: Penguin, 1993.

offense (there is a thriving black market for forged

The Strength of Poetry. New York: Farrar, Straus &

first editions of the likes of Keats and Byron, for

Giroux, 2001.

instance), the Crimean War never ended (though

after more than 100 years of fighting, little

remains there worth fighting for), and cloning has

Fforde, Jasper (1961– ) novelist

become an accepted fact of life (Next’s pet dodo,

Jasper Fforde was born on January 11, 1961, in

Pickwick, has no wings, since he was an early ver-

London. His father, John Standish Fforde, was the

sion, cloned before they finished sequencing the

24th chief cashier for the Bank of England. Fforde

dodo genome).

was educated at Dartington Hail School, a pro-

Fforde’s eccentric, playful, and dramatic first

gressive coeducational institution near Devon.

novel was hailed by critics and won him an imme-

At 18, he began working in the film industry as

diate following. His sequel, Lost in a Good Book

a focus puller, a technically demanding position

(2002), also featuring Next, sold out in hardback

that involves maintaining proper focus on the

edition the day it was released. Fforde’s combi-

subject of a shot as well as taking care of the cam-

nation of tight plotting, brilliant satire, literary

era, loading new film, and otherwise ensuring that

allusions, and reality-bending twists on the con-

the camera is in good working condition. Having

ventions of our familiar world earned him com-

had no interest in pursuing higher education, he

parisons with Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut,

remained in the industry for 20 years, working on

Lewis Carroll, and P. G. Wodehouse. Indeed,

major films such as Quil s, Entrapment, Golden-

the third novel in the Next series, The Well of

eye, and The Mask of Zorro.

Lost Plots (2003), won the Wodehouse Prize for

Fforde, Jasper 167

comic fiction; it was described by the Guardian

becomes literary in these books, with firebomb-

Hay festival director Peter Florence as having “the

ings and gunfights between radical groups who

true Wodehousian joy of brilliant verbal playful-

propound opposing theories of the real author of

ness. . . . It’s a happy marriage of delightful intel-

William Shakespeare’s works (the Baconians back

ligence and complete lunacy.”

Sir Francis Bacon, while the New Marlovians sup-

In the five novels of the Next series, Fforde

port Christopher Marlowe). Thursday Next and

has created a quirky, engaging, and incredibly

Jack Spratt both run into literary characters who

detailed world, as real and appealing as those of

act as allies as well as adversaries.

J. K. Rowling or Terry Pratchett. However,

Yet the literariness of Fforde’s novels is not

his wit and love of literature have led to another

imposing; in fact, he pokes fun at adulation of the

series as well, every bit as bizarre and appealing as

classics. In his world, Jane Eyre is widely beloved

the chronicles of Thursday Next.

but also provokes disappointment and confusion

The first book in this Nursery Crimes series,

in its fans because, unlike in the actual novel, Jane

The Big Over Easy (2005), shares many similari-

Eyre does not marry Rochester and live happily

ties with his Next novels. Detective Inspector Jack

ever after at the end, but instead leaves for India.

Spratt, an investigator in the Nursery Crimes Divi-

Fforde delights in puns as well, even bad ones:

sion of Reading’s Police Department, attempts to

the names of his characters include Paige Turner

solve the mystery of who killed Humpty Dumpty.

and Landen Park-Laine (an allusion to the Park

As might be expected, Spratt’s world is a mish-

Place space on a British Monopoly board). To take

mash of puns, incongruous juxtapositions of low-

another example, Next’s archnemesis, Acheron

brow and highbrow humor, and original touches

Hades, is a former professor of literature with

that add to the strangeness of Fforde’s worlds (such

a variety of distinctly demonic powers. To cast

as Ashley, an alien who works at the police sta-

a onetime literary critic in such a role speaks of

tion and who speaks binary). The Nursery Crime

Fforde’s skepticism of convention, literary or not.

novels are as wide-ranging in their allusions, but

Indeed, following convention seems to be last

not in their plots; they are strictly crime thrillers,

on Fforde’s list of writing priorities. “In The Eyre

while the Next novels incorporate elements of

Affair I link the Charge of the Light Brigade, Jane

many different genres.

Eyre, the biggest corporation ever, an explanation

In addition to his novels, Fforde maintains an

of spontaneous human combustion, the notion of

ever-expanding Web site full of additional mate-

catching a meteorite with a baseball mitt, argu-

rial that further contributes to the reality of his

ing about who wrote Shakespeare’s plays, driving

literary worlds. He readily and enthusiastically

through a time warp and a police department that

engages with his fans through this site.

deals with werewolves,” Fforde has explained in

When he is not writing, Fforde enjoys flying a

an interview. “I suppose the idea is to keep the

biplane. He lives in Wales.

audience from falling asleep.”

The devotion of Fforde’s fans has precluded

Critical Analysis

that possibility. So popular has his Thursday Next

The imaginary world of Jasper Fforde’s fiction is

series become that his readers have organized a

above all a literary one. Classic works of literature

yearly Fforde Ffiesta in Swindon, the setting for

take center stage; for instance, the initial plot of

his Thursday Next series. In his playful metafic-

The Eyre Affair revolves around the theft of the

tion, Fforde offers a strong, willful protagonist

original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s Martin

struggling to make her way through a compli-

Chuzzlewit. Other such manuscripts are regularly

cated and increasingly irregular world; both are

targeted by robbers, extortionists, and, worst of

memorable as much for their originality as for the

all, terrorists, who destroy them. Terrorism itself

entertainment they offer.

168 Fielding, Helen

Other Works by Jasper Fforde

with their still-single friends with questions such

First Among Sequels. New York: Viking, 2007.

as, “found anyone yet?” Fielding has said that she

The Fourth Bear. New York: Viking, 2006.

borrowed her plot from Jane Austen’s Pride and

Something Rotten. New York: Viking, 2004.

Prejudice. The author lives in Los Angeles with her

partner, Kevin Curran, and their two children.

Works about Jasper Fforde

Author Web site. Available online. URL: http://www.

Another Work by Helen Fielding Accessed June 23, 2008.

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination. New

Ezard, John. “Lost Plot gains a prize.” Guardian

York: Penguin, 2005.

Unlimited. Available online. URL: http://books., 1228118,00.html.

Accessed January 20, 2008.

Finlay, Ian Hamilton (1925–2006) poet,

Swink, Simone. Interview with author. January

artist, short story writer, playwright

magazine. Available online. URL: http://january

Born in Nassau, the Bahamas, to James and Annie Accessed

Whitlaw Finlay, Ian Finlay attended school in

January 20, 2008.

Scotland until age 13. When World War II broke

out, he evacuated to Scotland’s Orkney Islands,

where he studied philosophy and worked as a

Fielding, Helen (1958– ) novelist

shepherd. After briefly attending Glasgow School

Fielding was born in 1958 in Morely, West York-

of Art, he wrote short stories and plays, some of

shire. She was educated at St. Anne’s College,

which were broadcast by the BBC.

Oxford, where she studied English. After college,

Finlay’s first book of poetry, The Dancers

Fielding worked for the BBC. She filmed docu-

Inherit the Party (1960), contains short, rhym-

mentaries in Africa for a program called Comic

ing poems about love, the Orkneys, and other

Relief and also worked as a researcher for The

subjects: “The hollowness is amazing. That’s the

Late, Late Breakfast Show.

way a boat floats” (“Orkney Lyrics 2, The English

Fielding’s first novel, Cause Celeb (1994), was

Colonel Explains an Orkney Boat”). Through

a comic look at the business of humanitarian aid

the Wild Hawthorn Press, which he founded

to Africa. Fielding is best known today for Bridget

in 1961, and Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. (P.O.T.H.),

Jones’s Diary (1999) and its several sequels: Bridget

a magazine he edited from 1961 to 1968, Finlay

Jones: This Time I Real y Have Changed (2001);

published much of his experimental typographi-

Bridget Jones’s Guide to Life (2001); and The Edge

cal work. He soon emerged as Britain’s foremost

of Reason (1999). The idea for the novels evolved

writer of concrete poetry (in which the arrange-

from a column Fielding wrote for two London

ment of the words on the page contributes to the

papers in 1997 and 1998. The first novel was a huge

meaning) with Rapel: Ten Fauve and Suprematist

popular success on both sides of the Atlantic, and

Poems (1963).

it and The Edge of Reason were made into films

Finlay wrote “Star/steer” (1966)—which repeats

starring Renée Zellwegger. The character Bridget

the word “star” in a curved line from top to bot-

Jones works in London in the publishing indus-

tom, ending in the single word “steer”—on both

try; she is in her 30s, still single, and engaged in a

paper and slate. He cast other “poem-objects” in

number of comic struggles with smoking, weight,

such materials as wood and even neon lights, as in

and romance. The novel has added several new

“Windflower” (1976). “Wave/rock” (1966) was the

terms to the language, including “singleton” (sin-

first poem ever made from sandblasted glass.

gle person) and “smug married,” which refers to

Through his work, Finlay explores both wild

married women who always begin conversations

and cultivated nature as well as themes of war

Firbank, Ronald 169

and conflict. “View to a Temple” (1987), one of

known about Firbank’s early life other than that

his open-air installations (multimedia, multi-

he suffered from poor health and was educated

dimensional works created temporarily for an

almost entirely by tutors. He did spend several

indoor or outdoor space), frames a view of a clas-

years at Cambridge, but the painfully shy and

sical temple through an avenue of guillotines, a

effeminate young man succeeded only in estab-

reference to the French Revolution. Evidence

lishing himself as an eccentric. He never received

of Finlay’s interest in both nature and classi-

a degree and spent most of his time writing his

cal antiquity is seen at Stonypath (also known

first major novels.

as “Little Sparta”), an allegorical garden that he

Firbank’s books prepared the way for those of

and his wife, Sue, began creating in 1967 at their

James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Law-

farmhouse in Dunsyre, Scotland. At Stonypath,

rence. His novel Vainglory (1915)—the story of

Finlay sets his inscribed slabs (including one

Mrs. Shamefoot, who tries to memorialize herself

containing the single word cloud and another

by having a window in a cathedral dedicated to

the monogram of the artist Albrecht Dürer, in

her—anticipates the rise of modernism with its

a setting reminiscent of one of his paintings),

minimal plot and its fragmented and circular

benches, fountains, and sundials among trees,

narrative. Firbank followed Vainglory with Incli-

water, plants, and flowers. He also has sundials

nations (1916), a story riddled with suggestions of

at Canterbury, the University of Kent, and Edin-

homosexuality, about two single British women

burgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

traveling through Greece.

Finlay exhibited at the National Maritime

Caprice (1917), a more plot-driven novel, tells

Museum at Greenwich, the Max Planck Institute

the story of a young woman, Sarah Sinquier, who

(Stuttgart), and the Scottish National Gallery

steals her family’s silver and runs away from a

of Modern Art, winning awards from the Scot-

small town to London in hope of becoming an

tish Arts Council bursary (1966–68). In 1990 he

actress. Selling the silver, she finances a produc-

installed an inscription from Plato’s Republic on

tion of Romeo and Juliet. The play propels Sarah

Glasgow’s Bridge Piers (stone blocks that once

into stardom, but at the novel’s end she dies when

supported a highway). A fellow author writes,

she falls from the stage.

“In Finlay’s work, meaning is ultimately depen-

Valmouth (1918) is set in an imaginary health

dent upon context. His art explores the limits of

spa and filled with elderly characters. This novel

what can be said, and it returns us to the daily

contains hardly any action; instead, it is filled

act of re-creating or re-composing our ‘mode of

with the conversations of an extremely large cast

being.’ ”

of characters. Dialogue was Firbank’s forte. At

one point in Valmouth he assembles a roomful of

A Work about Ian Finlay

characters, whose snippets of speech form a col-

Finlay, Alec, ed. Wood Notes Wild: Essays on the Po-

lage. It is as though the reader is standing in the

etry and Art of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Edinburgh:

middle of the crowded room and hearing frag-

Polygon, 1995.

ments of a dozen different conversations.

Valmouth earned Firbank more critical acclaim

than any of his previous work. It is rivaled in its

Firbank, Ronald (1886–1926) novelist

success only by Sorrow in Sunlight (1924; published

Ronald Firbank was born in London to Joseph

as The Prancing Nigger in the United States). This

Thomas and Jane Harriette Firbank. His parents

latter novel centers on a West Indian family, the

were a wealthy couple living off the inherited

Mouths, who move from their small village to a city

earnings of Firbank’s grandfather, a railway con-

in hopes of entering their island’s elite social circles.

tractor who had amassed a small fortune. Little is

As it turns out, the move to the city is a journey

170 Fischer, Tibor

into a world of vice, a place, as the scholar James

Fischer, Tibor (1959– ) novelist, short

Merritt notes, where “ ‘Sin’ is the major pastime of

story writer, journalist

its inhabitants.” The stereotypical “sinfulness” and

Tibor Fischer was born on November 15, 1959,

descriptions of the novel’s black characters often

in Stockport, England. His Hungarian parents,

turn them into caricatures. Nonetheless, Firbank

George and Margaret Fekete Fischer, were both

shows a keen interest in Afro-West Indians and

professional basketball players who fled Hun-

their culture:

gary after the brief and bloody 1956 anticommu-

nist uprising. Fischer grew up in South London,

[T]he Cunans [the novel’s islanders], in

then studied Latin and French at Cambridge

their elegant equipages, made, for anyone


fresh from the provinces, an interesting and

After graduating in 1980 Fischer worked as a

absorbing sight. The liquid-eyed loveliness of

journalist and eventually lived in Hungary from

the women and the handsomeness of the men,

1988 to 1990 as the Daily Telegraph’s foreign cor-

with their black moustaches and their treach-

respondent there. No doubt this assignment was

erous smiles—these, indeed, were things to

very helpful for Fischer, who culled many details

gaze on.

of daily Hungarian life for his debut novel, Under

the Frog.

During his lifetime, Firbank received neither

Rejected 58 times before the small Edinburgh

widespread popular appeal nor overwhelm-

press Polygon accepted the manuscript, Under

ing critical praise. Many scholars consider him

the Frog (1992) won immediate critical acclaim

important only for his paving the way through his

for its originality, dark comedy, and emotional

narrative experimentation for the next generation

depth. The book won the Betty Trask Award

of British authors. Merritt, however, disagrees,

and was short-listed for the Booker Prize. Set

arguing that “Firbank is a classic, a writer whose

in post–World War II Hungary, Under the Frog

chief works are of genuine literary excellence” and

takes its title from a Hungarian proverb mean-

whose writing “offers to the reader a constantly

ing “the worst of all places.” It follows the travels

diverting view of humanity unlike that offered by

and misadventures of a basketball team, whose

any other novelist.”

members dream of escaping to the West as they

play in bizarre and squalid locations, outrun the

Other Works by Ronald Firbank

farcically incompetent secret police, and chase

Firbankiana: Being a Col ection of Reminiscences of


Ronald Firbank. New York: Hanuman Books,

Not only did Under the Frog launch Fischer’s


career as a novelist, it centered him firmly in the

Five Novels. Norfolk, Va.: New Directions, 1989.

literary spotlight trained on writers of his genera-

Santal. 1921. Reprint, Los Angeles: Sun and Moon,

tion. Granta magazine included him in its 1993


list of best young British novelists, alongside such

3 More Novels. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.

figures as Will Self, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeanette

Winterson, and Iain Banks.

Works about Ronald Firbank

Fischer’s second novel, The Thought Gang

Brophy, Brigid. Prancing Novelist: A Defense of Fic-

(1994), although equally inventive, witty, and

tion in the Form of a Critical Biography in Praise

entertaining, did not garner the same critical

of Ronald Firbank. New York: Barnes and Noble,

attention as his first. In this book, a former profes-


sor of philosophy, Eddie Coffin, joins forces with

Merritt, James Douglas. Ronald Firbank. Boston:

a one-armed, one-eyed, and one-legged criminal

Twayne, 1969.

named Hubert to pull off a series of heists in the

Fischer, Tibor 171

south of France. These elaborate thefts are based

cruncher,” was given the rare honor of being pub-

on a complex system drawn from Coffin’s vast

lished in the Times Literary Supplement prior to

and, during the period from the loss of his job to

the publication of the collection.

the start of his criminal activity, useless knowl-

Voyage to the End of the Room (2003) features

edge of philosophy. In preparation for writing,

many characteristic aspects such as a disjointed

Fischer spent six months reading philosophy, a

narrative, unusual characters, a fundamentally

subject with which he was not deeply familiar.

dark outlook, abundant wit, and a host of inventive

More than its philosophical content, however, it

and entertaining tales. Oceane, a retired sex-show

was the book’s dazzling verbal play that made it

performer, hires an unorthodox debt collector to

a success, though a more modest one than Under

pursue a mysterious man named Walter. Although

the Frog. The novel has been compared to Tris-

Oceane is afraid to leave her home, she leads a rich

tram Shandy for its relentless systematizing (the

vicarious life online, receiving video and audio

attempt to develop all-encompassing systems

dispatches from the debt collector as he travels

into which everything—objects, actions, even

the world. However, many critics found that the

people—can fit neatly) and to the work of Donald

novel suffered from the same cynicism and lack of

Barthelme for its linguistic playfulness. Of the

narrative coherence that dogged Fischer’s earlier

book, Fischer has said, “If you can’t have fun with

works. His latest novel is Good to Be God (2008).

the language of a Cambridge philosopher, then

In addition to fiction, Fischer continues to

when can you?”

write book reviews for newspapers. He sat on the

Fischer gave even fuller play to his dark sense

panel of Booker Prize judges in 2004.

of humor and gift for bizarre invention in his

third book, The Col ector Col ector (1997). Nar-

Critical Analysis

rated by a sentient, immortal, shapeshifting

Under the Frog has been linked to a tradition of

ceramic bowl, the book is full of eccentric minor

black comedy in Eastern European writing; its

characters, slapstick episodes of sex and violence,

bitterness and wit alike have reminded critics of

and, most highly praised by critics, well-crafted

Milan Kundera’s The Joke and George Konrad’s

anecdotes from the bowl about some of its more

Feast in the Garden. Spanning the period of

than 10,000 owners over its 6,500-year history.

Hungarian history from the end of World War

Despite its originality and surreal wit, the book

II to the 1956 uprising, the book follows the

did not win the same praise as its predecessors

adventures of Gyuri Fischer and Tibor Pataki,

and was in fact criticized for lacking a sense of

two basketball players on the National Railways

overall coherence. Some critics went so far as to

team, “The Locomotive.” Delighted that they do

point out strains of misogyny and misanthropy

not have to work as long as they play on the team,

in Fischer’s third book.

they spend as much time as they can chasing

In 2000 Fischer published a collection of short

women and taunting the police. All the while,

stories, Don’t Read This Book If You’re Stupid

they condemn and bemoan the corruption and

(retitled I Like Being Kil ed in the American ver-

chaos that confront them throughout the coun-

sion). Critics panned the book almost universally,

try. Eventually, an anguished Gyuri escapes to

complaining of its overt nihilistic tone, its nar-

the West, leaving behind his Polish girlfriend;

row emotional focus on dark whimsy, and the

the combination of horror and banality that

aimlessness of most of its stories. These deal with

marks the Communist regime in Hungary leaves

marginalized, unsuccessful, and unfulfilled char-

him little choice.

acters, including a bibliophile who pursues the

Full of authentic detail and a headlong narra-

futile project of reading every book published in

tive energy, this picaresque novel made a name

English in chronological order. This story, “Book-

for Tibor Fischer almost overnight. It combined

172 Fisher, Roy

dazzling verbal play with bawdy slapstick, but also

in this poem, which intersperses verse with pas-

offered an acid critique of the Communist regime

sages of prose: “The city is asleep. In it there are

as well as an involving emotional tale. With this

shadows that are sulphorous, tanks of black bile.

book, Fischer became the first writer to be short-

The glitter on the roadways is the deceptive ore

listed for the Booker Prize with a debut novel.

that shines in coal.”

Part of what attracted such attention was the

Fisher solidified his reputation as one of the

contrast between Fischer’s tone, subject matter,

few British masters of prose poetry with Meta-

and general approach and a then-popular kind of

morphoses (1970), a collection about the unfore-

novel featuring a witty and sarcastic narrator but

seen outcomes of change. His verse most often

little in the way of Under the Frog’s political and

explores natural occurrences of the world through

emotional substance. Fischer had succeeded in

clear, vivid descriptions. He makes his images

transforming his humor into a powerful form of

memorable by taking real things and making

protest, much like the Eastern European writers

them strange. In “As He Came Near Death” he

who had preceded him in visiting the same geo-

writes, “Then the hole: this was a slot punched in

graphical and historical territory.

a square / of plastic grass rug, a slot lined with the

white polythene, floored with dyed green gravel.”

Another Work by Tibor Fischer

Fisher published several volumes of verse in the

New Writing 8. Editor, with Lawrence Norfolk. Lon-

1960s and 1970s, but because only small presses

don: Vintage, 1999.

would handle his early collections, he received

limited critical attention before the 1980s. When

A Work about Tibor Fischer

Oxford University Press published Poems 1955–

Hogan, Ron. Interview with the author. Beatrice.

1980 (1980), he emerged from obscurity to gain

Available online. URL: http://www.beatrice.

recognition as one of Britain’s most original poets.

com/interviews/fischer/. Accessed January 26,

He won the Cholmondeley Award for Poetry the


following year.

Fisher’s emphasis on sensory details in his

poems consistently wins praise from critics.

Fisher, Roy (1930– ) poet

David Zaiss writes that his poems “speak to an

Roy Fisher was born in Birmingham, England, to

awareness; their dark heat raises an ordinary

Walter Fisher, a jewelry maker, and Emma Jones

moment in the mind, so that the images almost

Fisher. He attended Wattville Road Elementary

crunch.” Poet and critic Andrew Motion notes

School, Handsworth Grammar School, and Bir-

that Fisher’s poems “make the act of seeing itself

mingham University. After receiving his degree

dramatic. Throughout his career he has tried to

in English, Fisher taught at Dudley College of

create an absolutely authentic realism, consis-

Education and Bordesley College. He was also

tently addressing himself to the world with a lat-

a senior lecturer in American Studies at Keele

ter-day kind of wise passiveness.”


Fisher started writing poetry as a teenager

Other Works by Roy Fisher

and published his first book, City, a collage of

Consolidated Comedies. Heaton, England: Pig Press,

poetry and prose, in 1961. Evoking a strong sense


of place, his poems describe moments, envi-

The Half-Year Letters. Guildford, Surrey, England:

ronments, landscapes, and human lives in an

Circle Press, 1983.

industrial city. The title poem, which appears in

The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955–2005. Nor-

revised form in Col ected Poems 1968, is his best-

thumberland, England: Bloodaxe Books, Ltd.,

known work. Fisher describes urban desolation


Fitzgerald, Penelope 173

A Work about Roy Fisher

dated Old House into a flourishing bookshop

Kerrigan, John, and Peter Robinson, eds. The Thing

are thwarted by local interests. Green’s decision

about Roy Fisher: Critical Studies. Liverpool: Liv-

to stock Nabokov’s Lolita is the last straw: She is

erpool University Press, 2000.

evicted from the Old House and from staid and

stuffy Hardborough.

Fitzgerald’s Offshore (1979) won the Booker

Fitzgerald, Penelope (1916–2000) novelist,

Prize. It draws on the years when the author and


her family lived on a Thames houseboat and is

Penelope Mary Fitzgerald was born in Lincoln,

both comic and sad. The critic R. E. Hosmer sees

England, the daughter of Edmund Valpy Knox,

it as depicting a kind of “utopian community of

the editor of Punch, and Christine Hicks Knox,

houseboat dwellers” living on the tidal Thames

a moderate suffragette. Educated at Oxford, she

around Battersea Reach. In the space of fewer

subsequently worked as a programmer for the

than 150 pages, the author presents a miniature

BBC, a journalist, a bookshop owner, and a tutor.

world whose inhabitants spend half their lives

Fitzgerald came to writing late: She was 59

mired in mud, the rest drifting on water. In Off-

when she published her first book, a biography of

shore, Catherine Cole notes, “a precisely evoked

the Victorian painter Edward Burne-Jones; and

world is perfectly matched with the apparent

61 when the first of her nine novels, The Golden

inconclusiveness, the hesitancies and reticences,

Child (1977), was published. Fitzgerald’s fiction is

the ebb and flow of the book’s construction.”

remarkable for its compression and imaginative

Another novel presenting a miniature world

empathy. She referred to her novels as “micro-

and resembling a controlled experiment is

chips.” Asked to cut the length of her first work,

Human Voices (1980), which takes place at Broad-

she made this her standard practice, thus achiev-

casting House, the London headquarters of the

ing remarkable concision.

BBC, from May through September 1940. France

Most of Fitzgerald’s novels reflect periods of

has fallen; Britain awaits invasion, and London

her life when she was engaged in specific activi-

is being heavily bombed. In this novel, style is

ties. For instance, The Golden Child (1977) was

content, for it is a work seriocomically concerned

inspired by a visit to the Tutankhamen exhibition

with communication, with what people say and

at the British Museum in the winter of 1971–72.

how they say it—and also with what they do not

This novel, a thriller set in a claustrophobic

say. The novel’s staple is dialogue. In her observa-

museum, follows Waring Smith, a junior museum

tion that the BBC prefers truth to consolation, the

functionary, as he discovers that his world is run

author comments on her own candid art.

by fakes. The first of several Fitzgerald excursions

Critics have remarked on Fitzgerald’s rare gift

into self-enclosed worlds with special rituals and

for portraying the very young and very old. This

ways of thinking, here she captures the stifling

is in evidence among the elderly eccentrics and

atmosphere and arch rivalries of the art world

knowing children of At Freddie’s (1982), which

and of museum politics and administration.

features the Temple School that trains child

Scholar Catherine Cole sees The Golden Child as

actors for the London stage. The novel draws on

questioning “value, power, and authority” and

the author’s experiences at the Italia Conti School.

demonstrating “the secrecy of their operation.”

On the other hand, Innocence (1986), set in Flor-

Out of Fitzgerald’s experience as a bookstore

ence in the 1950s, seems to be an excursion into

owner came The Bookshop (1978), set in an East

imagination. This love story between the Ridolfis,

Anglian coastal town that is stagnating socially,

a family descended from Renaissance midgets,

economically, and politically. Florence Green’s

and the Rossis, former peasants, has an allegori-

well-meaning efforts to transform the dilapi-

cal air and somewhat resembles E. M. Forster’s

174 Fleming, Ian

Italian novels. Fitzgerald was fascinated by the

Fleming, Ian (1908–1964) novelist, children’s

concept of innocence.


Fitzgerald’s biographies are remarkable for the

Ian Fleming was born in London, the son of Major

way they capture their subjects’ milieus and times.

Valentine Fleming, a Conservative member of

Similarly, her historical novels— The Beginning of

Parliament, and Evelyn St. Croix Rose Fleming.

Spring (1988), The Gate of Angels (1990), and The

He became a journalist and, during World War

Blue Flower (1955)—show thorough research and

II, assistant to the director of Royal Naval Intelli-

imaginative penetration. Pre-revolutionary Rus-

gence. His intelligence work, particularly in help-

sia comes vividly to life in the first of these, pre-

ing the Americans set up the OSS, the forerunner

World War I Cambridge in the second, and the

of the CIA, earned him a pistol engraved with the

life of a late 18th-century German principality is

slogan “For Special Services” and provided him

recreated in the third, as in this description of the

with inspiration for his central character, James

protagonist’s homeland in The Blue Flower:

Bond, secret agent 007 of the British Secret Ser-

vice. As critic Tony Buchsbaum notes, the fanci-

His life was lived in the “golden hollow” in

ful character Fleming created while on a romantic

the Holy Roman Empire, bounded by the

getaway in Jamaica “would become the most suc-

Harz Mountains and the deep forest, crossed

cessful action hero of all time,” due largely to the

by rivers . . . proceeding in gracious though

film series based on the books.

seemingly unnecessary bends and sweeps past

Bond, first seen in Casino Royale (1953), is

mine-workings, salt-houses, timber mills,

witty, emotionally detached, and skilled at every-

waterside inns. . . . Scores of miles of rolling

thing from killing enemy agents to romancing the

country bringing forth potatoes and turnips

numerous women who pass briefly through the

and . . . cabbages . . .

novels. Bond is more prone to political reflection

and moral doubts in Casino Royale than is his on-

The Blue Flower is the story of poet-philosopher

screen incarnation. Noting the excesses of his own

Novalis’s love for 12-year-old Sophie Kühn. It

government at the conclusion of this first mission,

won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Bond remarks that “this country-right-or-wrong

Al in al , Fitzgerald’s work demonstrates, as

business is getting a little out-of-date. . . . If I’d

R. E. Hosmer observes, “a keenly intel igent and

been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conserva-

analytical insight into human thought and behavior,

tism we have today would have been damn near

matched to a remarkable and extraordinary sympa-

called Communism and we should have been told

thy for the foibles and failures of humankind.”

to go and fight that.”

Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die (1954) was set

Other Works by Penelope Fitzgerald

in Jamaica, one of many exotic locations to which

Edward Burne-Jones. Phoenix Hill, England: Sutton

the author sent Bond and one to which he would

Publishing, 1975, reprinted 1997.

return in Dr. No (1958). As described in From

The Knox Brothers. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint

Russia with Love (1957), Bond is handsome but

Press, 2000.

battle-scarred: “It was a dark but clean-cut face,

with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the

Works about Penelope Fitzgerald

sunburned skin of the right cheek.”

A Reader’s Guide to Penelope Fitzgerald. New York:

From Russia with Love clearly established Bond

Mariner Books, 1999.

as a cold war hero fighting communism. However,

Wolfe, Peter. Understanding Penelope Fitzgerald.

his best-known enemies were the criminal mas-

Columbia: University of South Carolina Press,

termind Blofeld and the organization SPECTRE,


which appeared primarily in the novels Thunder-

Fletcher, Susan 175

bal (1961), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963),

Rosenberg, Bruce A., and Ann Harleman Stewart.

and You Only Live Twice (1964).

Ian Fleming. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989.

Shortly before his death, Fleming also wrote

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964), a children’s tale

about a flying car. It was also adapted for the

Fletcher, Susan (1979– ) novelist

screen and stage. After Fleming died, the Bond

Susan Fletcher was born in Birmingham in 1979

novels were continued by other authors, including

and studied creative writing at the University of

Kingsley Amis, who wrote Colonel Sun (1968) as

East Anglia. Her debut novel, Eve Green (2004),

Robert Markham. Historian Jeremy Black, in his

won the Whitbread First Novel Award and

book The Politics of James Bond, notes that Bond

the 2005 Betty Trask Prize, making Fletcher a

may be “the most famous Briton of the twentieth

national literary sensation overnight, when she

century” and concludes that the “Fleming novels

was scarcely out of college.

are not great literature. . . . Yet the very success of

Fletcher set the novel in rural Wales, though

the novels as adventure stories suggests a degree

she did not grow up there. She first visited Wales

of potency that is worth probing.”

when she was 11 or 12 on pony-riding holidays,

To celebrate what would have been Fleming’s

when she was profoundly influenced by the land-

100th birthday, Ian Fleming Publications asked

scape. “It’s really atmospheric and very ancient. . . .

novelist Sebastian Faulks to write a new James

I felt quite small there,” Fletcher said of Wales in

Bond novel. Devil May Care was published in 2008.

an interview. It was “the place where I first really

Commenting on his assignment, Faulks said, “In

felt woken up in a literary sense.”

his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a

In Eve Green, the eponymous protagonist

thousand words in the morning, then go snorkel-

reflects on the joys and terrors of growing up in

ing, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more div-

the remote Welsh community of Tor-y-Gwynt.

ing, another thousand words in the late afternoon,

When her mother dies unexpectedly, eight-year-

then more martinis and glamorous women. In my

old Eve is sent to live with her grandparents. Eve’s

house in London, I followed this routine exactly,

new life in rural Wales is further complicated by

apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkel-

her grandparents’ request that she not ask about

ing.” Toby Litt, reviewing Devil May Care for the

her father’s identity. Additionally, when a local girl

British newspaper the Guardian, says that Faulks

disappears and one of Eve’s friends is placed under

“doesn’t write anything like as well as Ian Flem-

suspicion, Eve protects her friend at her own great

ing—not as elegantly, vividly, wittily, excitingly.”

risk. Fletcher was praised for her ability to render

the misty landscape of Wales in a lyrical, awesome,

Other Works by Ian Fleming

and even menacing way, transforming a coming-

Diamonds Are Forever. New York: Berkley, 1956.

of-age story into a memorable tale of love.

Goldfinger. New York: Fine Communications, 1959.

Fletcher followed this formidable debut with

The Man with the Golden Gun. New York: Signet,

another impressive novel, Oystercatchers (2007).


She revisits themes of painful family relations,

love, loss, and private reflection in this novel. It

Works about Ian Fleming

follows the life of Moira Stone, whose relationship

Comantale, Edward P., Stephen Watt, and Skip

with her younger sister, Amy, is made poignant

Willman, eds. Ian Fleming and James Bond: The

by the reader’s early knowledge that Amy will fall

Cultural Politics of 007. Bloomington: Indiana

from a rock and end up in a coma while Moira

University Press, 2005.

keeps her company.

Lycett, Andrew. Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James

Her intensely poetic voice and masterful ren-

Bond. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1995.

dering of complex emotional relationships have

176 Flying Officer X

made Fletcher one of the most celebrated and

tor, Nicholas Garrigan, who fills a post at a rural

watched young novelists of her day.

Ugandan hospital. He is eventually appointed per-

sonal physician to Amin and becomes fascinated

A Work about Susan Fletcher

with the charismatic dictator, in the end failing to

Briscoe, Joanna. Review of Oystercatchers. Guardian

find the inner strength necessary to condemn the

Unlimited. Available online. URL: http://books.

atrocities of his increasingly nightmarish regime., 2014103,00.html.

The novel was universally hailed as a triumph,

Accessed January 9, 2008.

winning the Whitbread First Novel Award, a Som-

erset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award, and

the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. It was also

Flying Officer X

made into a prizewinning movie in 2006; Forest

See Bates, H. E.

Whitaker received the Best Actor award at the

Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen

Actors Guild, and the BAFTAs for his portrayal of

Foden, Giles (1967– ) novelist, short story

Amin, while the film itself won the 2007 BAFTA

writer, journalist

Award for Best British Film.

Giles William Thomas Foden was born on Janu-

In 1999 Foden published Ladysmith, another

ary 11, 1967, in Warwickshire. His father, Jona-

novel in which he made extensive use of historical

than, was an agricultural adviser, and his mother,

events. Set in South Africa during the Boer War,

Mary, was a farmer. The death of Foden’s grandfa-

its narrative is carried along by a host of char-

ther forced his family to sell their farm and move

acters. Foden was inspired to write the novel by

to Malawi (southeastern Africa), where Jonathan

his discovery, at 16, of a bundle of letters written

became an agricultural adviser when Foden was

by his great-grandfather, who served as a soldier

five years old. He spent most of his childhood liv-

at Ladysmith. The novel was not as popular or

ing in and traveling around other parts of Africa,

critically successful as Foden’s first, in spite of its

including Uganda. He has said that for him, writ-

more sweeping scope and powerful depictions of

ing was an attempt “to recreate those vivid expe-


riences on the page, including the frightening

Foden’s third novel, Zanzibar (2002), was


inspired by a 1998 journalistic assignment to Dar-

Foden returned to England in 1980 while his

es-Salaam and Zanzibar following the bombing

family continued to work in Africa. He attended

of American embassies by al-Qaeda there. It is

Malvern College, then read English at Cambridge

an account of the bombings, including the back-

University. Upon graduating, he won a scholar-

ground leading up to them, told through the lives

ship to travel and write for a year, and, after visit-

of ordinary individuals who had some connec-

ing East Africa, he began work on his first novel,

tion with them. This novel has been described

which would become The Last King of Scotland

as being closer to a thriller than Foden’s earlier

(1998). When he returned to England, he started

work, though it also merges fiction with historical

working as a journalist for Media Week maga-

fact in a moving and intimate way that is charac-

zine, then moved on to the position of assistant

teristic of his writing.

editor at the Times Literary Supplement in 1991,

Mimi and Toutou’s Big Adventure: The Bizarre

and, subsequently, deputy literary editor of the

Battle of Lake Tanganyika (2004), Foden’s latest


book, recounts a little-known British attack on

The Last King of Scotland is set in Uganda

German forces at Lake Tanganyika during World

during Idi Amin’s rule in the 1970s. It comprises

War I. Much like his earlier books, in this book

the journals of a young and naïve Scottish doc-

Foden displays a remarkable command of histori-

Ford, Ford Madox 177

cal and descriptive detail that makes his narrative

though more proactively. Foden struggled to

both moving and entertaining.

portray Amin himself, a larger-than-life charac-

In addition to his novels, Foden continues to

ter “already a novel, so to speak,” but critics have

contribute regularly to the Guardian and other

praised him for the results.


Although his subsequent novels have not

attracted the same critical and popular success

Critical Analysis

of his first, through them Foden has established a

Giles Foden originally intended to write about a

place for himself among the foremost of Britain’s

fictional African dictator when he began work on

contemporary novelists.

The Last King of Scotland, but the Ugandan dicta-

tor Idi Amin, who by then had retired to Saudi

Other Works by Giles Foden

Arabia after being driven from the country by

The Guardian Century (contributor). London:

Tanzanian forces in 1979, attracted the author’s

Fourth Estate, 1999.

attention instead with his megalomania, erratic

The Weekenders: Travels in the Heart of Africa (con-

behavior, and horrific acts.

tributor). London: Ebury Press, 2001.

The story is told through the journals of Nich-

olas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor who has

A Work about Giles Foden

taken a position at a remote Ugandan hospital in

Interview with author. Bold Type Online. Available

order to advance his career as well as escape the

online. URL:

psychological confines of his Presbyterian family.

boldtype/1298/foden/interview.html. Accessed

A car accident puts him in contact with Amin,

December 28, 2007.

who later names him his personal physician.

The novel is largely a psychological study of

these two characters amid the historical events

Ford, Ford Madox (Ford Hermann

of Amin’s regime. The dictator, famously char-

Madox Hueffer) (1873–1939) novelist,

ismatic, exerts a fatal pull on Garrigan, who

fairy tale writer, poet, editor, nonfiction writer

does not possess the inner resources to confront

Ford Madox Ford was born in Merton, Surrey,

the truth of Amin’s actions. He becomes a pas-

to Francis Hueffer, the art editor of the London

sive accomplice in the dictator’s crimes. When

Times, and Catherine Madox Hueffer, an art-

recounting these, Garrigan often deludes himself,

ist. He was christened Ford Hermann Madox

omitting overt descriptions of events or claiming

Hueffer but changed his name to Ford Madox

he cannot remember exactly what happened. Even

Ford in 1919. He was educated in private schools

when presented with an opportunity to kill Amin

and, throughout his youth, felt intellectually

as his regime collapses, the doctor cannot bring

insecure around his rather intimidating parents

himself to act.

and their friends. He did not receive a university

In interviews, Foden has talked about this


novel as an attempt to understand the ambiguous

Ford distinguished himself as an editor, a

role of “white Westerners” in Africa. “I was also

nonfiction writer, a poet, and, most notably, a

trying to explore, in a literary way, how sensa-

novelist. In 1908 he founded the journal English

tionalism relates to the writing of fiction: at what

Review, which published the work of prominent

point, I tried to ask myself, am I myself involved

authors like Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, and

in the glamorization of Amin’s deeds?”

John Galsworthy. In 1924 Ford also started the

Foden masterfully blends fiction with fact in

journal Transatlantic Review, which published an

this book. The character of Garrigan is based on

even more impressive list of authors, including

a British military officer who supported Amin,

D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce.

178 Ford, Ford Madox

The early years of Ford’s career were marked

divine and omnipresent intelligence, but as it was

by his close friendship with the novelist Joseph

observed by some intervener not too intimately

Conrad, with whom he collaborated on several

concerned in the plot” was more successful than

largely unsuccessful, jointly written novels. These

Conrad’s attempts at the same goal.

included Romance (1903), about a young British

The Parade’s End tetralogy consists of Some Do

man traveling in the Caribbean. Out of his rela-

Not (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could

tionship with Conrad, however, Ford developed

Stand Up (1926), and The Last Post (1928). The four

a theory of the novel that demanded, in par-

novels tell the story of Christopher Tietjens, born

ticular, clearly drawn characters and a detached

into the upper class that initially represents all of


the traditional values of pre–World War I Britain.

Ford began his writing career with several

Tietjens first engages in a personal psychologi-

books of fairy tales; a book of poetry; some

cal war with his wife before becoming involved

works of nonfiction; Poems for Pictures and for

in the actual trench warfare of World War I. At

Notes of Music (1900), illustrated by his grand-

the end of the tetralogy, in Ford’s words “weary

father; and The Fifth Queen trilogy, three novels

to death—of the Office, of the nation, of the world

about the life of Katharine Howard, the fifth wife

and people . . . and of the streets,” Tietjens rejects

of Henry VIII. The scholar Charles G. Hoffman

the dominant, commercial culture and moves to

credits the trilogy with saving “Katharine How-

a subsistence farm with a new wife. According to

ard from the obscurity of history.” Nevertheless,

the scholar Frank MacShane, Parade’s End is “a

success eluded Ford until the publication of The

panoramic work covering many levels of society

Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (1915), which

. . . [and] shows that it is necessary to abandon

is regarded as his greatest achievement. In this

social forms and privilege to preserve the old val-

novel, an American named John Dowell nar-

ues that gave England its character.”

rates the story of his life as he attempts to fit the

Because of his contributions to the literary

disjointed pieces of his memory together like the

world as an editor and the quality of his novels,

pieces of a puzzle. Much of the story centers on

Ford Madox Ford is still highly regarded. Accord-

an affair that Dowell’s wife, Florence, had with

ing to the scholar Richard Peterson, “Ford is now

his friend, Edward Ashburnham, a former Brit-

generally perceived as a legitimate member of an

ish soldier with whom Dowell seems strangely

exclusive company of artists who shaped modern

infatuated himself. The most remarkable ele-

literature because of their belief in the autonomy

ment of the novel is Dowell, in whom Ford finally

of the artist and the primacy of literature in defin-

achieves the type of powerful, detached narrator

ing the values of civilization.”

that he envisioned with Conrad. Dowell’s narra-

tion, ironically, utterly lacks any of the passion

Critical Analysis

suggested in the book’s subtitle. Even in the

The Good Soldier, subtitled A Tale of Passion, is a

description of his wife’s suicide the voice seems

thoroughly modern work. Until the beginning of

neither horrified nor sad. He simply relates the

the 20th century, novelists often told their stories

event matter-of-factly: “She drank a little phial

from the point of view of an omniscient narrator

of prussic acid and there she lay—O, extremely

who sees all and knows all. Such a narrative stance

charming and clearcut—looking with a puzzled

presupposes the possibility that there is such a

expression at the electric light bulb. . . . Anyhow

thing as truth. Through the naïve and unreliable

there was the end of Florence.” This method

narrator of The Good Soldier, John Dowell, Ford

of narration drew high praise from the critic

suggests that all that remains in the modem world

Rebecca West, who felt that Ford’s technique

is uncertainty: We know little about others and

of “presenting the story not as it appeared to a

perhaps even less about ourselves.

Forester, Cecil Scott 179

Dowell says that his tale of two couples—he

Other Works by Ford Madox Ford

and his wife, Florence, and Edward and Leonora

Antwerp. 1914. Reprint, Murrieta, Calif.: Classic,

Ashbumham—who met annually at a German


spa is “the saddest story I have ever heard.” Dow-

England and the English. 1907. Reprint, Murrieta,

ell’s word choice is instructive. The story, despite

Calif.: Classic, 2001.

all its death and despair is not tragic, only sad.

The Portrait. 1910. Reprint, Murrieta, Calif.: Classic,

People are stumbling about, blindly tearing each


other to pieces, but nothing they do rises to the

level of tragedy. It is all simply ordinary awful-

Works about Ford Madox Ford

ness. Dowell struggles continuously with the gap

Bender, Todd K. Literary Impressionism in Jean Rhys,

between what he thought he knew about his wife

Ford Madox Ford, Joseph Conrad and Charlotte

and friends and what he thinks he knows now.

Brontë. New York: Garland, 1997.

He wonders, “If for nine years I have possessed

Goldring, Douglas. The Last Pre-Raphaelite: The Life

a goodly apple that is rotten at the core and dis-

of Ford Madox Ford. Columbus, Ohio: Harding

cover its rottenness only in nine years and six

Press, 2007.

months less four days, isn’t it true to say that

Hampson, Robert, and Max Saunders. Ford Madox

for nine years I possessed a goodly apple?” Then

Ford’s Modernity. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003.

in an anguished cry he acknowledges, “I know

Saunders, Max. Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life. New

nothing—nothing in the world—or the hearts of

York: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Dowell tells his sad tale out of chronological

order. He says, “I have, I am aware, told this story

Forester, Cecil Scott (1899–1966) novelist,

in a very rambling way so that it may be difficult

screenwriter, short story writer, historian

for anyone to find their path through what may

C. S. Forester was born Cecil Lewis Troughton

be a sort of maze. . . . I console myself with think-

Smith to George Smith, an English teacher, and

ing that this is a real story and that, after all, real

Sarah Troughton Smith in Cairo. He spent most

stories are probably told best in the way a person

of his childhood in England, and by the time he

telling a story would tell them.” Thus the reader

was seven he had formed his lifetime habit of read-

learns early on that both Edward and Florence are

ing at least one book a day. Although he enrolled

dead but only learns much later how and when

in medical school, the “pure, barbaric yearning to

they died. The narrator tells the story slowly, halt-

tell a story” prompted him to begin writing under

ingly, in part because he would have preferred not

the pen name C. S. Forester.

to be telling it at all, and partly because that is how

In 1920 Forester wrote his first novel in a two-

he learned it, in bits and pieces and at different

week burst of inspiration. After its rejection by

times. As he casts his mind back, he remembers

several publishers, he took a more disciplined

events, interpreting them in the light of his new

approach to writing. The success of Payment

knowledge. Yet, at the end, he possesses nothing

Deferred (1926), a crime novel which mystery

that one could easily call truth.

critic Martin Edwards calls “his masterpiece

According to the novelist Jane Smiley, “There

of suspense,” enabled him to marry Kathleen

are those who believe that The Good Soldier is

Belcher. In the 1930s Forester wrote Hollywood

one of the few stylistically perfect novels in

film scripts and served as a foreign correspondent,

any language.” The complexity of the narrative

covering the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

stance alone is a remarkable accomplishment.

Eventually he moved to Berkeley, California.

Few writers have the skill for such an intricate

Among Forester’s best-known works is The

balancing act.

African Queen (1935), a romantic adventure on

180 Forster, Edward Morgan

which director John Huston based his classic

Forster grew up surrounded by a bevy of impos-

1951 film about a proper English missionary and

ing women. He lived with his mother, Alice (Lily)

a rough engineer who resist the Germans during

Clara Whichelo, until she died in 1945 at age 90.

World War I. Besides novels, Forester also wrote

His great-aunt Marianne Thornton, a member of

short stories and histories, such as the biography

the evangelical, philanthropic Clapham Sect, was

Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress (1935) and The Age

the subject of a Forster biography.

of Fighting Sail: The Story of the Naval War of 1812

Forster was educated at Tonbridge School


and at a school in Eastbourne, both of which

Forester’s most enduring creation is Cap-

he loathed. His years at Cambridge University

tain Horatio Hornblower, introduced in Beat to

(1897–1901) were idyllic. There he read classics

Quarters (1937) as a naval genius who fights for

and history; was tutored by Goldworthy Lowes

England during the Napoleonic Wars. The 10

Dickinson, subject of another biography; and

books of the Hornblower saga, which follow his

absorbed the philosophy of G. E. Moore, which

career from midshipman to admiral of the West

exalted the pleasures of human relationships and

Indies, sold more than 8 million copies. Reviewer

the enjoyment of beautiful objects. At Cambridge

Sanford Sternlicht attributes the popularity of

Forster realized he was homosexual, but he kept

these romantic historical novels to Hornblower’s

this secret for some years.

stature as “the prototype British hero” of his age.

Most of Forster’s life was lived in Hertford-

“Hornblower leads men. . . . He causes them to

shire, Kent, and Surrey, whose stifling lifestyle

see and do their duty.” Former U.S. Secretary of

he satirized in his early fiction. A legacy from

Defense Caspar Weinberger, who praises “the

his great-aunt enabled him to travel to Italy and

excitement, the scrupulously accurate back-

Greece, and travel inspired him to write. The

grounds and authenticity of technical detail” in

sense of place is strongly developed in Forster; his

the saga, says, “Forester to a superlative degree

discovery of the beauty and animation of classic

has the ability to convey the spray, the color, the

Mediterranean lands liberated his imagination,

wind, and the men molded by the sea.”

inspiring novels and short stories. Virtually all

of Forster’s fiction hinges on contrasting places,

Other Works by C. S. Forester

manners, and ways of life.

The Good Shepherd. 1955. Reprint, New York: Simon

During World War I, Forster worked in Alex-

& Schuster, 2001.

andria as a volunteer with the Red Cross. Out of

The Hornblower Companion. Annapolis, Md.: Naval

this Egyptian experience emerged two books:

Institute Press, 1999.

Alexandria: A History and a Guide (1922) and

Pharos and Pharil on (1923). He also traveled to

A Work about C. S. Forester

India three times between 1912 and 1945. From

Sternlicht, Sanford V. C. S. Forester and the Horn-

his first two journeys came the travel book The

blower Saga. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University

Hill of Devi (1953) and the last novel published in

Press, 1999.

his lifetime, A Passage to India (1924).

For the remaining 46 years of his life, Forster

wrote nonfiction, including Aspects of the Novel

Forster, Edward Morgan (1879–1970)

(1927). Other literary essays are collected in

novelist, short story writer, essayist, nonfiction

Abinger Harvest (1936) and political ones in Two


Cheers for Democracy (1951). A liberal humanist,

E. M. Forster was born in Marylebone, London,

Forster became popular as a broadcaster during

England, the son of an architect of the same name

World War II. During the final quarter-century

who died while his son was a baby. An only child,

of his life, he was invited by King’s College to live

Forster, Edward Morgan 181

there as an honorary resident. Refusing a knight-

Room with a View (1908), both take English trav-

hood, he was made a Companion of Honour in

elers to Italy, contrasting the repressed, stuffy, and

1953 and in 1969 was awarded the Order of Merit.

“proper” manners of English middle-class visitors

His novel Maurice, which addressed homosexual

with Italian naturalness, spontaneity, and vitality.

themes, was published posthumously in 1972.

A story of young love triumphing, A Room with a

View is simpler and lighter-hearted than Where

Critical Analysis

Angels Fear to Tread, which involves the kidnap-

If not given to stylistic experiment, Forster is still

ping of a baby who is killed when thrown out of a

an original novelist with unusual gifts. He fuses

carriage. The latter novel’s open ending leaves its

social realism with psychological insight and

principal characters, Philip Herriton and Caro-

larger-than-life symbolism, and he has a dry wit

line Abbott, sadder but wiser, largely because,

and quirky temperament. Scholar John Colmer

after experiencing Monteriano and Italy, they

regards him—together with D. H. Lawrence—as

transcend homegrown Sawston values.

“one of the two most original [English] novel-

Forster’s own favorite among his works was

ists of the first half of this century.” As the critic

The Longest Journey (1907), which he called the

Frederick P. W. MacDowell says, “All of his novels

book “I was most glad to have written,” because

have become classics, and the word Forsterian

it came closest to “saying what I wanted.” Both

can alone describe their rich mixture of comedy

The Longest Journey and Howards End (1910) take

and poetry, and their luminous . . . style.”

place entirely in England and are quintessentially

Forster began by writing domestic comedies

English; indeed, they are about who shall inherit

of manners resembling Jane Austen’s, but with,

that country.

as Colmer puts it, “a malicious dash of Samuel

Each of The Longest Journey’s three parts—

Butler” added. While completing A Passage to

“Cambridge,” “Sawston,” and “Wiltshire”—is

India, he fell under the spell of French novelist

presided over by a character or characters: Cam-

Marcel Proust. Forster also had a mystic strain.

bridge by Stuart Ansell, Sawston by Herbert

As scholar Philip Gardner observes, his fiction

and Agnes Pembroke, and Wiltshire by Stephen

“moves easily from the realistic into the symbolic

Wonham. Rickie Elliot is the central character

or mystical.”

who links the others. He is an idealist not wholly

Before turning to novels, Forster wrote short

comfortable with the values by which the others

stories. These are mostly classical and pantheis-

live: Ansell values intellect; Stephen Wonham,

tic, full of fantasy and the supernatural; they turn

instinct; and the Pembrokes, materialism. In his

on moments of revelation and liberation, or the

efforts to bridge the radically different worlds of

reverse. A handful are memorable: “The Story of

the other characters, Rickie is torn apart; he loses

a Panic” (1904), “The Road to Colonus” (1904),

his life trying to save his half brother, Wonham.

and “The Machine Stops” (1909). Forster’s stories

Howards End is more integrated and finished

are collected in The Celestial Omnibus and Other

than its predecessor, though it too contains melo-

Stories (1911), The Eternal Moment and Other Sto-

dramatic elements. Here Forster sets in conflict

ries (1947), and The Life to Come and Other Stories

and reconciles two social classes and ways of life.


The Schlegels represent the upper-middle-class

Forster’s novels, by contrast, are realistic, but

life of culture and values, while the Wilcoxes

with melodramatic plots containing considerable

stand for the business or imperial class, inhabit-

contrivance, including frequent sudden, unpre-

ing a world of what Forster calls “telegrams and

pared-for deaths (as many as five in The Longest

anger.” The means of reconciling the two classes

Journey). Forster’s first published and first written

is the marriage of Henry Wilcox to Margaret

novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A

Schlegel, an attempt to harmonize the external

182 Forster, Edward Morgan

with the internal, or the prose with the passion of

novels, A Passage to India embodies a dual vision,

existence, through love. Finally, the house How-

presenting physical and social relations within a

ards End, which the first Mrs. Wilcox bequeaths

metaphysical or spiritual context. No other work

to Margaret, but which the Wilcox family seek to

exemplifies as well Forster’s brilliant use of liter-

prevent her from inheriting, becomes a home to

ary leitmotivs or repeated images accompanying

her and her sister, and to the child Helen has con-

specific people, places, events, or ideas, or of what

ceived by lower-class Leonard Bast.

he calls in his Aspects of the Novel (1927) pattern

Forster’s masterpiece, A Passage to India

and rhythm. Just one example out of many is the

(1924), shows a growth in subtlety and complex-

echo that haunts the Marabar Caves. (Forster was

ity. As in Where Angels Fear to Tread, two English

knowledgeable about music and habitually used

people—here the youthful Adela Quested and

rhythmic and musical techniques in his writing.)

the elderly Mrs. Moore—travel to a foreign land,

A Passage to India is also visually compelling

India, to prepare for Adela’s marriage to Ronny

with its panoramic geographical and geologi-

Heaslop, Mrs. Moore’s son. In Chandrapore, they

cal sweep and its vistas down the ages. Like The

meet Cyril Fielding, English principal of Govern-

Longest Journey, A Passage to India is tripartite in

ment College, and his Muslim friend Aziz. The

structure. The architectural and geologic motifs

impulsive Aziz enthusiastically invites the ladies

of mosque, caves, and temple symbolize the three

to visit the “extraordinary” Marabar Caves a

principal faiths of India: Islam, Christianity, and

short distance away. This proves a fateful expedi-

Hinduism. Islam is evoked through recurrent

tion: Shortly afterward, Mrs. Moore dies, her pre-

images of arches receding into infinity. The caves

viously ardent Christian faith undermined, and

embody the hollow Christianity practiced by

Adela accuses Aziz of assaulting and trying to

Anglo-Indians. These caves, Forster determined,

rape her. Although Adela later retracts her charge

were “to engender an event like an egg” and breed

at Aziz’s trial, it is too late: Aziz’s life and career

panic and emptiness. The final redemptive Hindu

are ruined. Fielding’s standing in the Anglo-

festival of Gokul Ashtami is represented by the

Indian community is also jeopardized because he

Hindu temple or world-mountain.

crossed racial lines to champion Aziz.

The action of A Passage also follows the seasonal

Interactions among the major characters are

cycle, opening during the cool season, coming to

skillfully presented. Thus, Fielding and Aziz are

a climax during summer, and ending with the

initially drawn to each other through intelligence,

monsoon. The first part of the narrative comprises

goodwill, and mutual respect, while Aziz and

principally exposition; the second, the catastro-

Mrs. Moore bond instantly through their instinc-

phe; while the third offers an open ending. Since

tual natures. Adela and Fielding, both rationalists

Forster believed less and less in closed endings, he

lacking the spiritual dimension Mrs. Moore and

offers here an ending that opens on infinity.

Aziz possess, merely like each other. However,

huge obstacles erected by time and space, race,

Works about E. M. Forster

caste, class, and creed block satisfactory personal

Beauman, Nicola. E. M. Forster: A Biography. New

relationships in this work.

York: Knopf, 1994.

The novel’s title alludes to 19th-century Amer-

Furbank, P. N. E. M. Forster: A Life. New York: Har-

ican Walt Whitman’s poem “Passage to India.”

court Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

Forster skeptically views Whitman’s buoyant

Lago, Mary. E. M. Forster: A Literary Life. New York:

optimism calling for “the earth to be spann’d,

St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

connected by network, / The races, neighbors, to

Stone, Wilfred. The Cave and the Mountain: A Study

marry, and be given in marriage,” and the soul’s

of E. M. Forster. New York: Oxford University

passage to union with God. Like other Forster

Press, 1966.

Fowles, John Robert 183

Forsyth, Frederick (1938– ) novelist,

Forsyth’s first novel was followed by The Odessa

short story writer, journalist

File (1972), a novel of Nazi intrigue, The Dogs of

The author of many popular thrillers, Frederick

War (1974) about African mercenaries, and many

Forsyth was born in August 1938 in Ashford,

others. The first three were made into films, and

Kent, England, and was educated at Tonbridge

dozens of his other works have been adapted for

school and later at Granada University in Spain.

the screen and television. In a career notable for

He served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force from

its generic consistency, there is a notable depar-

1956 to 1958. From 1958 to 1961, he worked as a

ture. Inspired by a meeting with Andrew Lloyd

reporter for the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk,

Weber, Forsyth wrote a sequel to Gaston Leroux’s

before becoming a correspondent for Reuters in

The Phantom of the Opera entitled The Phantom of

1961. He reported first from Paris and then from

Manhattan (1999).

East Germany and Czechoslovakia, locations that

provided him with information for his first nov-

Other Works by Frederick Forsyth

els. In 1965 he began working as a radio and tele-

The Afghan. New York: Putnam, 2006.

vision reporter for the BBC in London, covering

Avenger. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003.

international affairs. In this period, he reported

The Devil’s Alternative. New York: Random House,

on the Nigerian civil war. In 1968 he left the BBC


to return to Africa, where he continued to report

The Fourth Protocol. New York: Bantam Books,

on the war, first as a freelance writer and later for


the Daily Express and Time magazine. In 1969,

Forsyth published The Biafra Story: The Making

A Work about Frederick Forsyth

of an African Legend, his first attempt to assemble

Clive Bloom, ed. Spy Thril ers: From Buchan to le

his reportage into a larger tableau.

Carré. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

In 1970 he published The Day of the Jackal, an

immediate best seller and the first of a series of

popular novels. The Day of the Jackal features an

Fowles, John Robert (1926–2005)

assassination plot in which a mysterious, cold-

novelist, short story writer, essayist

blooded English sniper with expensive tastes

John Fowles was born in the town of Leigh-on-Sea

is hired by the shadowy French Organisation

in Essex, England. His family life was suburban

Armée Secrète (O.A.S.) to kill the French leader

and conventional, and Fowles said later that he

Charles de Gaulle. While the slick, stealthy assas-

tried to escape his childhood environment all his

sin hunts his quarry, he is in turn pursued by a

life. He was educated at Bedford School, a board-

rumpled, henpecked detective, Inspector Charles

ing school, and then briefly attended Edinburgh

Lebel. With a plot filled with cleverly concealed


clues dealing with actual events, a devilish sym-

Fowles studied French at Oxford, graduat-

pathy for the assassin, and descriptions rife with

ing in 1950. While there he became enthusiastic

precise technical details about high-powered

about the philosophies of French existentialists

weaponry, performance sports cars, forged docu-

like Sartre and Camus. His hatred of convention-

ments, tapped telephones, and brutal sex, The Day

ality meshed neatly with their views.

of the Jackal set the standard for novels of interna-

Fowles is known for his psychologically fraught

tional intrigue. Forsyth’s novel with its mixture

novels. His first published novel was The Collec-

of ingenious plotting and plodding prose would

tor (1963), which describes a deranged butterfly

set a standard for popular fiction that would be

collector who acquires a different ambition. In a

emulated by Robert Ludlum, Len Deighton, and

desperate attempt to gain love, he kidnaps an art

Tom Clancy.

student and keeps her captive in his basement,

184 Fowles, John Robert

where he tries to make her fall in love with him. “It

In the 1970s Fowles wrote a novella and sev-

was like not having a net and catching a specimen

eral short stories. The stories were col ected in

you wanted . . . you had to nip the thorax, and it

The Ebony Tower (1974). In 1977 he published

would be quivering there. It wasn’t easy like it was

the long novel Daniel Martin. Partly autobio-

with a killing-bottle.” The novel begins with the

graphical, this book describes the life of a Hol-

kidnapper’s story of the experience, a frightening

lywood screenwriter who has begun to feel his

blend of affection for her and deranged cruelty.

work and life are meaningless: “I feel I’ve become

For the second half of the novel, the imprisoned

a man driving through nothingness.” The novel

girl tells her story, and her writing is a painful

shifts repeatedly between past and present, and

contrast to the kidnapper’s psychotic calm: “I’m so

in the course of it Martin comes to realize how

sick, so frightened, so alone.” The Observer praised

his disillusionment stemmed from the choices

the novel as “An intriguing study of warped sexu-

he made in his student days: “All those mirrors

ality.” It was made into a film in 1965.

and masks in my room when I was a student. I

Fowles’s second novel, The Magus (1965), is

think they just about summed it up.” Reviewer

one of his most famous books. A blend of detec-

Paul Gray wrote, “Like Henry James before him,

tive story and existential speculation, it describes

Fowles has created rarefied creatures free enough

an English schoolmaster’s stay on a Greek island,

to take on the toughest question that life offers:

where he gradually realizes that the island’s

how to live?”

strange millionaire is running the schoolmaster’s

Fowles wrote many nonfiction essays on topics

life, his love affair, and the island in such a way

ranging from philosophy to nature, for example,

as to make him uncertain of everything, even

The Aristos (1964) and Wormholes (1998). He

his own identity. Newsweek called it “fast and

wrote text to accompany photograph books, such

frightening . . . an emotional maelstrom of high

as Lyme Regis Camera (1990) and Tree (1979). He

intrigue.” The novel has acquired cult status and

lived in the south English coastal town of Lyme

became a film in 1968.

Regis since 1968 and became so fascinated with

Fowles’s third novel was the best seller The

the local history that he spent 10 years being cura-

French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969). Set in Victo-

tor of the Lyme Regis Museum.

rian England, the first 12 chapters resemble a clas-

In 1999 Fowles was nominated for the Nobel

sic Victorian novel, introducing the tragic figure

Prize in literature. Hundreds of critics have

of a woman abandoned by her sailor beloved. The

praised his inventive and astonishing writing. The

novel’s structure recalls classic novels of the 19th

reviewer John Gardner once declared, “Fowles

century in its realistic narrative and its moral

is the only writer in English who has the power,

digressions. Then Fowles suddenly and shock-

range, knowledge, and wisdom of a Tolstoy or

ingly unsettles these conventions by having an


authorial narrator interject commentary: “I do

not know. This story I am telling is all imagina-

Critical Analysis

tion. . . . So perhaps I am writing a transposed

The French Lieutenant’s Woman is simultaneously

autobiography. . . . Perhaps it is only a game.”

a postmodern work of self-conscious fiction and a

American writer Joyce Carol Oates described The

Victorian novel replete with richly drawn charac-

French Lieutenant’s Woman as “[a] remarkable

ters, conflict, and a happy ending. The novel tells

original work in which at least two visions operate

the story of Charles Smithson, a young, wealthy

simultaneously, the one Victorian and melodra-

paleontologist engaged to marry the shallow,

matic, the other modern and wise. An outlandish

wealthy Emestina Freeman and his chance meet-

achievement.” Haunting and passionate, the novel

ing with Sarah Woodruff, the French Lieutenant’s

was extremely popular and became a film in 1981.

Woman of the title, a “fallen” woman ostracized

Francis, Dick 185

by everyone in the small seaside town where the

ing backward to 1867 and forward to 1967. The

characters all come together.

Victorian era, as it cracks, gives birth to moder-

Much more important than any of these char-

nity. The narrator stands astride the century and

acters, however, is the narrator, who takes on

sees advantages of both the slower, more certain,

role after role, voice after voice, calling attention

more structured earlier culture and the more cha-

to himself and the artificiality of his enterprise.

otic yet more free later times. Charles and Sarah,

He begins as a typical omniscient narrator of

together, live through the transformation, each

Victorian fiction who knows the past, something

changing utterly into creatures much more mod-

of the future, as well as his characters’ feelings

ern than they were when the novel began.

and motives. As the story goes on, however, the

Not surprisingly this narrator, who travels on

narrator changes his stance. Although he seems

trains with his characters and lurks outside their

to know what most characters are thinking and

homes, writes three different endings to his novel,

feeling, he admits to being at a loss on occasion

one that may be described as conventional, two

with Sarah. “Perhaps you think she must, to be

that are decidedly not. He tells his readers that he

so changed . . . have heard from or of Charles. But

has flipped a coin to determine the order of the

not a word. And I no more intend to find out what

final two entries so as not to seem to prefer one to

was going on in her mind as she firegazed than I

the other. All in the end is openness, ambiguity,

did on that other occasion when her eyes welled

existential freedom—the curse and the blessing of

tears in the silent night of Marlborough House.”

the 20th century. The French Lieutenant’s Woman

At another point the narrator goes further.

is one of those books that can be read over and

“This story I am telling is all imagination. These

over again, offering the reader new possibilities

characters . . . never existed outside my own

and insights each time.

mind. If I have pretended until now to know my

characters’ minds and innermost thoughts, it is

Other Works by John Fowles

because I am writing in . . . a convention univer-

Behind the Magus. London: Colophon, 1994.

sally accepted at the time of my story: that the

The Enigma of Stonehenge. Coauthor Barry Brukoff.

novelist stands next to God.” He further admits

London: Cape, 1980.

that he cannot control what his characters do.

Figures of the Human: Poems. Middletown, Conn.:

While many modern novels have adopted this

Wesleyan University Press, 1964.

narrative pose, none have juxtaposed it with a

Islands. Photographs by Fay Godwin. London: Jona-

Victorian novel, Victorian narrator, and Victo-

than Cape, 1978.

rian theme. Yet the choice is a perfectly apt one,

as Fowles demonstrates. The year in which The

Works about John Fowles

French Lieutenant’s Woman begins, 1867, comes

Acheson, James. John Fowles. New York: St. Martin’s

at the midpoint of Victoria’s reign and at a time

Press, 1998.

when the certainties of the Victorian era were

Aubrey, James R. John Fowles: A Reference Compan-

beginning to crumble—certainties having to do

ion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1991.

with religion, social class, prosperity, the place of

Warburton, Eileen. John Fowles: A Life in Two

women, art, and governance were all challenged

Worlds. New York: Viking, 2004.

during these times. Early in the novel the narrator

tells that as Charles looks down and sees Sarah

sleeping on an outcropping overlooking the sea,

Francis, Dick (1920– ) novelist

“in that luminous evening silence broken only by

Dick Francis was born in Pembrokeshire, South

the waves’ quiet wash, the whole Victorian Age

Wales, into a family that loved horses. On his

was lost.” The narrator stands at the center, look-

mother Catherine Thomas Francis’s side, his

186 Fraser, Lady Antonia

grandfather bred hunters. His father, Vincent

Scholar Rachel Schaffer notes that “he has made

Francis, was a jockey and stable manager who

lasting contributions to the hard-boiled mystery

encouraged Francis to develop his riding skills.

genre, expanding the formula to highlight the

When he was five, his older brother offered him

racing world and develop his own vision of what

sixpence to jump a donkey over a fence. “In my

it means to be a moral man in an often corrupt

heart, from that moment, I became a professional


horseman,” he recalled. After serving as a pilot

during World War II, Francis married Mary Mar-

Other Works by Dick Francis

garet Brenchley in 1947 and became a professional

Dead Heat. (with Felix Francis). New York: Putnam,

steeplechase jockey. Named Champion Jockey in


1954, he retired after a horse he was riding fell at

Shattered. New York: Jove, 2001.

the 1957 Grand National.

Trial Run. New York: Putnam, 2000.

Francis began his writing career as racing cor-

respondent for the London Sunday Express. At a

A Work about Dick Francis

friend’s suggestion, he wrote an autobiography,

Davis, J. Madison. Dick Francis. New York: Twayne,

The Sport of Queens (1957). Then, inspired by


“the threadbare state of a carpet and a rattle in

my car,” he decided to try his hand at a mystery

novel. Dead Cert (1962), in which a steeplechase

Fraser, Lady Antonia (1932– )

jockey investigates the accident that killed his

biographer, novelist

best friend, was an immediate success, and Fran-

Lady Antonia Fraser was born Antonia Pakenham

cis began turning out a novel a year.

in London into a family of distinguished writ-

Typically, each Francis book features a new

ers known as the literary Longfords. Her father,

hero who is involved with horses or racing. “I

Francis Aungier Pakenham, was the seventh earl

usually have a main character who has to fight his

of Longford. Her mother, Elizabeth, also a writer,

way out of tight corners and this main character

recalls her firstborn as a wonder child who “always

is learning things all along,” he notes. Because

wrote, even before she could write—poems, little

each book has a subplot related to the hero’s spe-

stories.” Fraser also enjoyed competitive sports,

cial interest, Francis and his wife, Mary, spend

playing tennis and joining the soccer team at a

months researching such topics as flying, pho-

boys’ school.

tography, and collectible toys. Francis recently

Shortly after graduating from Oxford, Fraser

acknowledged that his wife has contributed to the

published a children’s book on King Arthur. She

writing of the books.

continued to write after marrying Hugh Fraser, a

Francis was named a Grand Master by the

politician with whom she had six children. After

Mystery Writers of America in 1996. That same

a much publicized divorce, Fraser married play-

year he received the Best Novel award for Come to

wright Harold Pinter in 1980.

Grief (1995), in which ex-jockey Sid Halley inves-

Fraser works in broadcasting, having pro-

tigates what drives a man to mutilate race horses.

duced scripts for radio and television and having

For Kicks (1965) and Whip Hand (1980) received

been a regular panelist on several BBC radio quiz

awards from the Crime Writers Association.

shows, including My Word! A political activist,

While some critics consider Francis’s books

she works to free writers imprisoned for their

formulaic, most agree with critic Philip Pelham

political beliefs.

that “Francis improves with every book as both

Fraser’s reputation as a biographer was estab-

a writer of brisk, lucid prose and as a concocter

lished with Mary, Queen of Scots (1969), a lively,

of ingenious and intricately worked-out plots.”

carefully researched study that won the James Tait

Fraser, George MacDonald 187

Black Memorial Prize. The Weaker Vessel (1984),

days (1857), who is expelled from Rugby for

a vivid portrait of women’s varied roles in 17th-

drunkenness. Flashman (1969) pretends to be

century England, won the 1984 Woltzer Prize for

a volume in Flashman’s memoirs, which deals

history and the 1985 Prix Caumont-La Force.

with Harry’s adventures on a British expedition

Fraser began writing mysteries because “there

to Afghanistan. According to the introductory

was something in myself that history didn’t

note, the ex-bully eventually rises to eminence

express.” Quiet as a Nun (1977) introduced

as General Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB,

Jemima Shore, a glamorous, independent detec-

KCIE. The author describes his antihero as “an

tive. As Fraser explains, Shore solves crimes “just

unrepentant old cad,” whose only redeeming

because the public had got used to seeing her on

qualities are his “humour and shameless honesty

the telly as ‘Jemima Shore, Investigator,’ probing

as a memorialist.” Flashman’s career, detailed in

juvenile delinquency, housing shortages, women’s

several novels, spans many of the most signifi-

rights,” and other issues. According to critic

cant events of the Victorian era, including the

Anne Tolstoi Wallach, Fraser “writes both history

Afghan War and Custer’s Last Stand. Fraser cap-

and mystery with zest and verve, and her primary

tures the history and language of the period so

interest is people—foolish queens, military com-

wel that some American reviewers were fooled

manders, former wives,” all brought to vivid life

into believing that Flashman’s first adventure

by Fraser’s engaging narrative style.

was nonfiction.

While best known for the Flashman series,

Other Works by Antonia Fraser

Fraser has also written several successful screen-

Marie Antoinette: The Journey. New York: Double-

plays, including The Three Musketeers (1973), an

day, 2001.

adaptation of his novel Royal Flash (1975), and

Political Death. New York: Bantam, 1996.

the James Bond film Octopussy (1983). The novel

The Warrior Queens. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Black Ajax (1998), based on the life of a 19th-cen-

The Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Knopf, 1992.

tury black boxer who nearly defeated the reign-

ing white world champion, stirred controversy

because MacDonald Fraser chose to use language

Fraser, George MacDonald (1926–2008)

that was historically accurate but is now consid-

novelist, screenwriter, memoirist

ered racist.

George MacDonald Fraser was born in Carlisle,

Novelist Kingsley Amis called Fraser “a mar-

England, near the Scottish border, to Dr. Wil-

vellous reporter and a first-rate historical novel-

liam and Anne Struth Donaldson Fraser. Reading

ist.” Critic John Keegan calls his description of

Raphael Sabatini made him realize that his-

his service in Burma, Quartered Safe Out Here

tory was “an unending adventure story that far

(1994), “one of the great personal memoirs of the

outstripped fiction.” He left Glasgow Academy

Second World War.” Fraser noted that critics con-

at 18 to enlist in the Army. After World War II

sider him a satirist, but he refused to take his work

he became a reporter on the Carlisle paper, which

too seriously. When writing the Flashman books,

taught him to “write tight and fast.” Eventually he

“the aim is to entertain (myself, for a start) while

became deputy editor of the Glasgow Herald.

being true to history, to let Flashman comment

In 1966, Fraser says, “I suddenly decided I

on human and inhuman nature, and devil take

would write a Victorian adventure story and I

the romantics and the politically correct revision-

sat down and wrote it in 90 hours, just two hours

ists both.”

a night steadily when I came home from work.”

His inspiration was Harry Flashman, the school

Other Works by George MacDonald Fraser

bully in Thomas Hughes’s Tom Brown’s School-

Flashman and the Tiger. New York: Anchor, 2001.

188 Frayn, Michael

Flashman on the March. New York: Knopf, 2005.

stage farce called Nothing On and a “real-life”

The Light’s on at Signpost. New York: HarperCollins,

farce that develops backstage as the theater


company rehearses and tours. The play has won

The Steel Bonnets. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar

several awards and was revived on Broadway in

Square, 2001.

November 2001. New York Times reviewer Ben

Brantley wrote, “ ‘Noises Off’ . . . allows you to

laugh, loudly and wantonly, at a world in which

Frayn, Michael (1933– ) novelist,

everything seems out of joint” and noted that

playwright, journalist, screenwriter, nonfiction

Frayn “. . . brings an acute scholarly intelligence


to anything he touches.”

Michael Frayn was born in the London suburbs

Frayn also wrote a volume of philosophy, Con-

to Violet Alice Lawson and Thomas Allen Frayn,

structions (1974); and translated and adapted sev-

an asbestos company salesman. After training as

eral Anton Chekhov plays, including Wild Honey:

an interpreter and teaching Russian in the British

The Untitled Play (1984), originally discovered

army, Frayn studied philosophy at Cambridge,

with its title page missing. Frayn’s 1998 play

where he also wrote stories for Granta magazine

Copenhagen is based on a 1941 meeting between

and most of his first play, Zounds! (1957). He then

physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg.

worked as a journalist for the Manchester Guard-

Copenhagen won Tony Awards in 2000 for best

ian and later the Observer (London). For the for-

play, best actress (Blair Brown), and best director

mer, he wrote “Miscellany,” a column intended to

(Michael Blakemore). Frayn has won 17 awards,

showcase significant directors. But citing a lack

and in 2001 he received an honorary doctorate

of directors, Frayn invented material, such as the

from Cambridge University. He is married to

characters “The Crumbles,” an ambitious subur-

biographer Claire Tomalin and has three children

ban couple.

from a previous marriage.

Frayn’s first novel, The Tin Men (1965), a sat-

ire about computers that rule people’s lives, won

Other Works by Michael Frayn

the 1963 Somerset Maugham Award for fiction.

Democracy: A Play. New York: Faber and Faber,

In Against Entropy (1967; released in Britain as


Towards the End of the Morning) is a comic novel

The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the

about a 37-year-old newspaper features editor

Universe. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007.

who plans to improve his life by appearing as a

Spies. New York: Faber and Faber, 2003.

television panelist. Frayn also draws on his news-

paper background in his play Alphabetical Order

A Work about Michael Frayn

(1975), about a hyperefficient employee who tries

Page, Malcolm. File on Frayn. Westport, Conn.:

to bring order to a newspaper office by organizing

Heinemann, 1994.

its library.

Frayn’s first produced screenplay, Clockwise

(1986), starred Monty Python’s John Cleese as a

Frazer, Sir James George (1854–1941)

headmaster obsessed with punctuality. He also

nonfiction writer

wrote several documentaries about cities for the

Sir James G. Frazer was born in Glasgow, Scot-

BBC and won an Emmy Award for his screenplay

land, to Daniel Frazer, a pharmacist, and Kather-

for television’s First and Last (1989), about a man

ine Frazer. He studied classics at the University of

who sets out to walk the length of Britain.

Glasgow and later received a scholarship to Cam-

Noises Off (1982), for which Frayn is perhaps

bridge. In 1879 he was elected a Fellow there and

best known, is a play-within-a play with an on-

began translating and editing classical literature,

Frazer, Sir James George 189

eventually publishing translations of Pausanias

The Golden Bough was named after the bough

(1898) and Fasti of Ovid (1929). In 1907 Frazer

in the sacred Arician grove near Lake Nemi in

accepted the University of Liverpool’s first chair

Italy. In the book’s opening scene, a doomed

in anthropology, created specifically for him, but

priest-king waits at the grove for a rival who will

he soon returned to Cambridge, where he stayed

murder him and become the new priest—a rite

for the rest of his life.

to renew the vigor both of leadership and of the

Often considered the founder of modern

world. Frazer writes in The Golden Bough: “Kings

anthropology, Frazer proposed that cultures prog-

were revered, in many cases not merely as priests,

ress from magical through religious to scientific

that is, as intercessors between man and god,

thought. He influenced the early 20th-century

but as themselves gods. . . . Thus kings are often

movement called modernism, in which contem-

expected to give rain and sunshine in due season,

porary science and philosophy were accepted

to make the crops grow, and so on.”

along with historical Christianity, and literary

Frazer draws parallels between pagan beliefs

interest shifted from the external world inhabited

and the death and resurrection of Christ, writ-

by fictional characters and focused instead on

ing, “At least it is a remarkable coincidence . . .

the characters’ internal, psychological states. The

that the Christian and the heathen festivals of the

scholar Herbert Wesinger has written that along

divine death and resurrection should have been

with Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud,

solemnised at the same season and in the same

and Albert Einstein, Frazer is “a major molder of

places. . . . it is difficult to regard the coincidence

the modern mind.”

as purely accidental.” He proposes that cultures

A Cambridge professor editing the ninth edi-

evolved in how they try to control the natu-

tion of the Encyclopedia Britannica asked Frazer

ral universe, first using magic. In homeopathic

to contribute several articles to the work. One of

magic, magicians act out or create a model of

the articles grew too long for the encyclopedia and

what they wish to happen (the Law of Similarity).

was published instead as Frazer’s first book, Totem-

For example, some dancers believed that leaping

ism (1887), which proposed that animals, plants,

high into the air would make their crops grow

or other natural objects (totems) act as signs of a

tall. Contagious magic (the Law of Contact) held

clan or tribe and repositories for a person’s soul.

that a person who has had contact with certain

Frazer later republished Totemism in Totemism

things will continue to be influenced by them, as

and Exogamy: A Treatise on Certain Early Forms

in the belief that a person could injure an enemy

of Superstition and Society (1910), an ethnographi-

by damaging a piece of hair or clothing removed

cal (relating to the study and systematic recording

from the victim.

of human cultures) survey of totemism.

According to Frazer, after a society dismisses

Frazer’s monumental second work, The Golden

magic as unworkable, it turns to religion, appeal-

Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1890), estab-

ing to spirits or gods for help. Then, with a failure

lished him in the field of anthropology. Originally

of religion, a culture finally embraces science.

intending the study as two volumes, he expanded

With its exploration of primitive thought, The

it to 12 and then added a supplementary volume,

Golden Bough sparked imaginations and pro-

Aftermath (1936). Because Frazer himself rarely

vided background information for such writers

traveled, he turned to others for the field research

as D. H. Lawrence and T. S. Eliot, whose poem

for The Golden Bough. He developed and distrib-

The Waste Land (1922) contrasts the spiritual void

uted, mainly to missionaries, a questionnaire,

Eliot saw in modern society with values of the

Questions on the Manners, Customs, Religions,

past. Author Marc Manganaro writes that Eliot,

Superstitions, &c., of Uncivilized or Semi-civilized

following Frazer, presented the “cultural ‘facts’ . . .


which apparently first emerged from the cultural

190 Freeling, Nicholas

fount and are just now receding from our grasp

Elsa, whose murder he is assigned to solve. Read-

into extinction. Those cultural nuggets—myths,

ers were drawn to the flamboyant Van der Valk, a

poems, gods, holy books, cathedrals—accumulate

dedicated sleuth who ignores ineffective bureau-

to form a last-chance purview of World Culture.”

cratic police procedures and instead relies on his

Most of the works Frazer published after The

own intuition to solve cases that have stumped

Golden Bough expand on themes within it. Frazer

other investigators. He mines intimate details

twice delivered the Gifford Lectureships on natu-

from suspects and uses his penetrating character

ral theology at St. Andrew’s University, published

observations to solve crimes. In Love in Amster-

as The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the

dam, Van der Valk closes in on the killer after

Dead (1913) and The Worship of Nature (1926).

he concludes that Elsa “was a secretive woman.

Knighted in 1914 and recipient of the British

Everything she did, when she could make it so,

Order of Merit in 1925, Frazer held honorary doc-

was underhand, designed to deceive and mis-

torates from nine universities. Though anthropol-

lead.” The series of novels centered on Van der

ogists later debunked many of The Golden Bough’s

Valk established Freeling as a top writer of crime

methods and conclusions, the book remains a sin-

fiction. In a review of The Lovely Ladies (1971),

gular source of comparative data on magical and

Freeling’s 12th novel, John R. Coyne Jr. wrote,

religious practices. Marc Manganaro writes, “The

“The pleasure in reading a Freeling novel comes

point is not just that Frazer’s contemporaries rec-

largely from the often-comic contrast between the

ognized Frazer’s tactic but that they, in large part,

artificial social demands and the personal code of

were swept away by it even as they recognized his

conduct and point of view of a man who makes

argumentative shortcomings.”

his own judgments.”

Seeking a wider frame of reference for his fic-

Works about Sir James G. Frazer

tion, Freeling ended the Van der Valk series with

Ackerman, Robert. J. G. Frazer: His Life and Work.

The Long Silence (1972). He then created two other

New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

detective series with Van der Valk’s wife, Arlette,

Manganaro, Marc. Myth, Rhetoric, and the Voice of

and the French policeman Henri Castang as the

Authority: A Critique of Frazer, Eliot, Frye, and

respective heroes. In novels such as The Widow

Campbel . New Haven, Conn.: Yale University

(1979), in which Arlette helps break up a profes-

Press, 1992.

sional drug ring in Strasbourg, Freeling gained

critical and popular praise for his examination

of criminal behavior from a female point of view.

Freeling, Nicholas (1927–2003) novelist

In the Castang series, beginning with Dressing

Nicholas Freeling was born in London, England.

of a Diamond (1974), Freeling again creates an

His father was a farmer who had descended from

independent sleuth who solves crimes with keen

a family of landowners. After his father died in

observations about character and motive. Critic

1939, his mother struggled financially to raise the

Ian Hamilton has written that Freeling improved

family. Starting at age 18, Freeling worked as a

crime literature by “heaping such erudition on

cook in European hotels and restaurants. After a

a maligned genre,” in addition to providing “an

period of restless wandering in the late 1950s, he

up-to-standard supply of bleak internationalist

decided to become a writer.

wisdom as well as the usual flourish of scarred,

Freeling’s literary career began when he intro-

aphoristic insights into what makes people love

duced the Dutch police inspector Piet Van der

and hate the way they do.”

Valk in the crime novel Love in Amsterdam (1962).

The novel describes Van der Valk’s investigation

Other Works by Nicholas Freeling

of the relationships of a middle-aged woman,

A City Solitary. London: Heinemann, 1985.

Friel, Brian 191

The Janeites. London: Arcadia Books, 2002.

explores a common conflict faced by Irish emi-

Not as Far as Velma. New York: Mysterious Press,

grants: whether to seek a better life in America or


to embrace the familiarity—and limitations—of

Ireland. The main character, Gar O’Donnell,

waits in an airport to board a plane for Philadel-

Friel, Brian (1929– ) playwright, short story

phia, and as he waits, images of family and friends


trouble him. He regrets leaving his elderly father,

Brian Friel was born in Omagh, County Tyrone,

but a vision of a former teacher suggests the mun-

Northern Ireland, to Catholic parents. In 1939

dane, constricted future that Ireland would hold

the family moved to Londonderry, when his

for Gar. Friel uses a unique device to examine

father became a school principal. From 1941 to

Gar’s conflict. Two actors perform his role, one

1946, Friel attended St. Columb’s College. He

representing his public self, the other his private.

then entered St. Patrick’s College, graduating in

Philadelphia, Here I Come earned Friel inter-

1948 and eventually becoming a teacher in Lon-

national recognition, yet subsequent plays, such

donderry. In 1954 he married Anne Morrison,

as The Loves of Cass McGuire (1966), did not meet

with whom he had five children.

with critical praise. Despite his skills at character-

While teaching, Friel began writing short sto-

ization, these plays lack a unified dramatic action.

ries, which appeared in the New Yorker. Encour-

However, Friel eventually corrected this prob-

aged by his success, he became a full-time writer

lem. His play Translations (1980) fully realizes its

and began writing plays.

dramatic potential. The play is set in 1833 in Bally-

Friel’s plays are rooted in Irish culture. The

beg, an Irish-speaking community, at a time when

country and its traditions serve both as the set-

the British have instituted English as the national

ting for most of his plays and as a silent yet all-

language of Ireland. The play thus explores the

embracing figure that exerts a subtly powerful

death of the Irish language and the accompanying

influence on Friel’s characters. The plays combine

loss of history and cultural identity. Friel person-

reality, memory, and fantasy to portray a people

alizes the loss through the experiences of the fic-

whose vision of the past violently conflicts with

tional O’Donnell family. The play is performed in

the truths of the present. But Friel rarely con-

English, although the Irish characters are osten-

demns his characters for their belief in a benign,

sibly speaking in Gaelic. Friel therefore creates a

peaceful Ireland. Instead, he depicts them with

double translation, thereby explaining the play’s

compassion and complexity and avoids the dan-

title and its ironies. Friel concludes that problems

gers of sentimentality. His perception and devel-

of language and history cannot be resolved. The

opment of character are his leading qualities as a

critic Nesta Jones has noted that the play “is about


the death of language and yet language is vibrant

Friel’s first plays, produced between 1958 and

and alive onstage.”

1962, received some critical acclaim in Ireland.

In 1990 Friel’s best play, Dancing at Lughnasa,

However, he was displeased with their overall

premiered at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Its 1991

quality, and therefore he studied at the Tyrone

New York production won Tony Awards for best

Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis in 1963. His dra-

play, best director, and best supporting actress.

matic skills improved, and the following year, he

Partly autobiographical, the drama is again set in

won the Irish Arts Council McAuley Fellowship,

Ballybeg, but now in 1936. The area is becoming

which led to the Dublin Theatre Festival produc-

industrialized, and the encroaching moderniza-

ing his next play.

tion threatens the village’s traditions. The five

Philadelphia, Here I Come (1964) established

Mundy sisters embody the conflict between past

Friel’s reputation as a playwright. The drama

and present. The play also takes place during the

192 Fry, Christopher

fall harvest, and the changing seasons illustrate

He later adopted his mother’s maiden name. As

the disappearing past. As the play progresses, the

a child, Fry attended the experimental Froebian

Mundy family crumbles, and two of the sisters

school and the Bedford Modern School, and after

die tragically. The play emphasizes memory as

seeing a production of Peter Pan, he aspired to a

a preservative of the Mundys’ history. The critic

life in theater. He did not attend college but sup-

Richard Pine has noted that “memory, to which

ported himself as a kindergarten teacher; he also

the outsider cannot be privy, gives them access to

held varied positions for various small theater

some past that is theirs alone, to a world which


they carry within them.”

After World War II Fry’s plays began gain-

Friel’s success as a playwright has led to both

ing national attention, and he emerged as one of

theatrical and social prominence. He has won

Britain’s finest playwrights. His plays are written

the American-Ireland Fund Literary Award and

in verse, having religious themes, and are fre-

received a Doctor of Letters degree from the Uni-

quently comic. A Phoenix Too Frequent (1946) is

versity of Ulster. In 1989 BBC Radio broadcast six

a thoroughly comic play that takes place inside

of his plays; it was the first time the organization

a tomb. The central character, Dynamene, plans

had so honored a living playwright. Friel also

to die, along with her servant Doto, in order to

served in the Irish Senate from 1987 to 1989. Nesta

be with her newly dead husband. Such a plot has

Jones notes that Friel’s plays “have been informed

tragic potential, but here Fry is making a farce of

always by a deep compassion for his fellow man

death. In her first lines, Dynamene says that she is

and a profound understanding of human frailty.”

so tired of mourning that she would “rather have

to sleep / with a bald bee-keeper who was wear-

Other Works by Brian Friel

ing his boots.” In the words of the scholar Glenda

Brian Friel: Plays Two—Dancing at Lughnasa, Fa-

Leeming, “Death is reduced to a comic choice.”

thers and Sons, Making History, Wonderful Ten-

Fry’s next comedy, The Lady’s Not for Burning

nessee, Mol ey Sweeney. Winchester, Mass.: Faber

(1948), is one of his best-known works. The play,

and Faber, 1999.

set in a 15th-century town, describes the interac-

The Home Place. Oldcastle, Ireland: Gallery Press,

tions of Thomas, a former soldier, who wants to be


hanged; and Jennet, a young, wealthy, orphaned,

Selected Plays. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Univer-

but life-loving girl whom the town leaders plan to

sity of America Press, 1986.

burn at the stake on a false charge of witchcraft in

order to steal her fortune. The play is filled with

Works about Brian Friel

memorable characters, not the least of whom is

Andrews, Elmer. The Art of Brian Friel. New York:

Thomas. Self-deprecating—“I spit, I am . . . I’m

St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

a black and frosted rosebud whom the good

Jones, Nesta. Brian Friel. Winchester, Mass.: Faber

God / Has preserved since last October. Take no

and Faber, 2000.

notice”—he is both pathetic and endearing.

Pine, Richard. The Diviner: The Art of Brian Friel.

Fry has used comedy masterfully, but he is not

Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 2000.

limited to it. The Firstborn, which he began dur-

ing World War II but did not finish until 1948,

is based on the life of Moses and reveals a much

Fry, Christopher (Christopher Horns)

darker side of the playwright. It follows Moses,

(1907–2005) playwright

whom Fry depicts, according to the scholar

Christopher Fry was born Christopher Harris

Audrey Williamson, as “almost Shakespearean,”

in Bristol, England, to Charles John Harris, a

from his childhood to his development as the

builder and preacher, and Emma Marguerite Fry.

leader of the Israelites and his role in bringing the

Fry, Christopher 193

plagues upon Egypt. The Firstborn is more than a

I took my crook, and around the sheep I

biblical story, however, for it presents Moses as a

drew a circle

figure torn between his desire to deliver his people

Saying “God guard them here, if God will

from slavery and his horror at bringing down the

guard them”; . . .

plagues upon Egyptian families with whom he

When I came back no lamb or yearling

also has close connections. The drama also draws

or ewe

parallels between the slave-owning, domineering

Had broken through. They gently lay

Egyptians and Hitler’s Germany.


After several decades of this more serious

Cropping the crook’s limited pasture,

work, which also included a play about Henry II,


Curtmantle (1962), Fry returned to comedy in A

The unhedged green said “Trespass.”

Yard of Sun. The play is set in Italy immediately

after World War II and describes problems that

This time, however, the neighbors have come to

arise when a family’s rogue son returns mysteri-

tell him that his father has died. Cuthman is dev-

ously and extremely wealthy. With its bungled

astated, and he worries that, in asking God for

parables, mixed metaphors, and comic reversals,

help with the sheep, he has turned God’s attention

the comedy is not as overt as in Fry’s earlier plays,

from his father. Cuthman is wracked with guilt.

as when the “prodigal” son, initially the family’s

He later learns that he has also lost his home and

outcast, becomes the father’s pride and joy.

is now responsible for his mother who cannot

According to Glenda Leeming, Fry’s dramas


are “valid products of their time,” which are

Soon the neighbors learn that Cuthman has

still “performed on television, on radio, all over

decided to build a cart—and they think he is still

England in provincial theaters, and all over the

grief stricken, refusing to deal with what has hap-


pened to him. However, he has decided to trust

his fate and his mother’s to God. He builds the

Critical Analysis

cart, piles his mother and their belongings in, and

Fry’s The Boy with the Cart is a modern verse

leaves the village where he has lived all his life.

drama written in the style of medieval miracle

After many days, the rope he is using to pull the

plays. Miracle plays, designed to educate an illit-

cart breaks, and he makes a replacement of with-

erate congregation, usually dramatized the lives

ies (a kind of grass). He tells his mother, “We shall

of saints. Fry’s play celebrates the life of the Brit-

go as far/As the withies take us. There, where they

ish saint Cuthman. The work features several

break,/Where God breaks them . . . I will build/A

individual characters, but among its distinctive


features is a chorus of neighbors who comment

After much effort, Cuthman succeeds in build-

on the action. When staged, the choral parts are

ing his church, but only because a mysterious man

often annotated like music so that the chorus

offers to help him with a king post that has swung

almost seems to be singing the words.

out of position. The stranger merely touches the

When the audience first meets Cuthman, he is

huge beam and it sets itself in place. Cuthman

coming down from the hill where his sheep are

asks, “Who are you?” and the man answers, “I was

grazing. He is a bit abashed to meet his neigh-

a carpenter.”

bors because he has left the sheep unattended.

The play tells a sweet story, and there are many

His father has forgotten to send the herd-boy to

charming comic scenes, especially between Cuth-

relieve him, and Cuthman is hungry. Besides, he

man and his mother, who is a bit skeptical about

admits, he has done this before. He has left the

her son’s plans and resents being hauled around

sheep in God’s care, and they have not strayed:

in a cart “like a barrowful of turnips.” However,

194 Fry, Roger

the play’s strength is in the beauty of the verse.

he also began to exhibit his own work at the New

The chorus describes Cuthman’s journey and

English Art Club in London, where he met and

the landscape and the weather in achingly lovely

married fellow student Helen Coombe.

poetry. Here is their description of a rainstorm:

Fry published his first complete work, on

Giovanni Bellini, in 1896 and began writing art

Rain riding suddenly out of the air,

criticism for the Athenaeum in 1900. In 1905 he

Battering the bare wal s of the sun.

produced his first major work, an edition of the

It is fal ing onto the tongue of the blackbird,

great English 18th-century painter Sir Joshua

Into the heart of the thrush; the dazed

Reynolds’s Discourses. This and his work in the

val ey

founding of the formidable art periodical Burl-

Sings it down. Rain, rain on dry ground!

ington Magazine brought him to the attention of

the American financier J. P. Morgan. As a result

As the rain gains force, so do the words of the

of this association, in 1905 Fry became director

chorus. As it diminishes, the chorus ends with a

of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,

whisper, “The rain stops./The air is sprung with

a post he held until 1910. Up until that time he

green.” Although Fry’s verse plays went out of

had been content with the study of traditional

fashion, especially after John Osborne’s Look

art and of the old masters, but in 1906 his life

Back in Anger burst onto the British stage, this

as a critic underwent a major change when he

play has an enduring beauty that transcends its

went to an exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s paint-


ings. This caused him to seek out other works by

the painters Gauguin, Matisse, and van Gogh.

Other Works by Christopher Fry

In 1910 and again in 1912 at the Grafton Gal-

Selected Plays. New York: Oxford University Press,

leries Fry organized exhibitions of these artists.


He gave them the name by which they remain

A Sleep of Prisoners. 1951. Reprint, New York: Dra-

known today, postimpressionists, because they

matist’s Play Services, 1998.

emphasized color and light in the manner of

impressionist painters like Monet but placed

A Work about Christopher Fry

more emphasis on abstraction and symbolism.

Leeming, Glenda. Christopher Fry. Boston: Twayne,

These postimpressionist exhibits caused a major


break with the traditional art establishment and

allied Fry with the painters of the Bloomsbury


Fry, Roger (1866–1934) art critic

After the war, Fry published a collection of

Born in London into a well-off Quaker fam-

his Burlington articles and others as Vision and

ily—his parents were the judge Sir Edward Fry

Design (1920). His Cezanne (1927) confirmed

and Mariabella Hodgkin Fry—Roger Fry went

his preeminence as did his series of lectures at

to King’s College, Cambridge, to prepare for the

Queen’s Hall in later years. In 1933 his career was

scientific career his father had urged upon him.

crowned as he was appointed Slade Professor of

While there he won top honors in science, but he

Art at Cambridge. Sir Kenneth Clarke called Fry

also manifested an interest in art, as both a critic

“incomparably the greatest influence on taste

and a painter. Although he attempted to comply

since Ruskin.”

with his father’s wishes for a scientific career,

art finally won out. Study and travel in Italy and

Another Work by Roger Fry

France in the early 1890s led to Fry’s becoming a

A Roger Fry Reader. Edited by Christopher Reed.

lecturer in art history and connoisseurship, and

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Fuller, Roy 195

Works about Roger Fry

animal, and the latter marks the beginning of his

Falkenheim, Jacqueline Victoria. Roger Fry and the

experimentation with poetic devices. His poems

Beginning of Formalist Art Criticism. Ann Arbor:

tend to reflect logical progressions from particular

University of Michigan Press, 1980.

observations to general reflections, and his later

Woolf, Virginia. Roger Fry: A Biography. 1940. Re-

work conveys a more reflective and analytic tone.

print, New York: Vintage, 2003.

Although he was regarded as a master techni-

cian, critics claimed that his tone and form were

not unique. Although his novel Fantasy and Fugue

Fuller, Roy (1912–1991) poet, novelist,

(1954) was melodramatic, his novel The Ruined


Boys (1959) demonstrated a subtle characteriza-

Born in Lancashire, Roy Broadbent Fuller

tion and quiet evocation of the real world.

attended Blackpool High School and became an

In 1968 Fuller became professor of poetry at

articled clerk (a solicitor’s apprentice) at age 16. He

Oxford, where he remained until 1973, and pub-

qualified as a solicitor in 1934, and his law career

lished his lectures as Owls and Artificers (1971)

was entirely concerned with building societies

and Professors and Gods (1973). He was awarded

(building and loan institutions). After working as

the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize in 1968. He

assistant solicitor for 20 years, he became solici-

wrote three volumes of memoirs in the 1980s, and

tor to the Woolwich Equitable Building Society

his autobiography, Spanner and Pen, was pub-

in 1958. In 1969 he became vice president of the

lished in 1991. His son, John Fuller, is also a poet

Building Societies Association.

and novelist.

In the late 1930s, Fuller contributed poems

to New Verse, writing on matters of social and

Other Works by Roy Fuller

political concern. He published his first collection,

New and Col ected Poems, 1934–84. London: Secker

Poems, in 1939; his poems reflect the influence of

and Warburg, 1985.

W. H. Auden. Fuller served in the Royal Navy

Spanner and Pen: Post-War Memoirs. North Pomfret,

from 1941 until 1945, during which time he gained

Vt.: Trafalgar Square, 1991.

credibility as a war poet. His volumes The Middle

The World Through The Window: Col ected Poems

of a War (1942) and A Lost Season (1944) reflected

For Children. London: Blackie, 1989.

his own wartime experiences, particularly in their

themes of loneliness, tedium, and fear.

Works about Roy Fuller

Fuller expressed postwar concerns about mod-

Powell, Neil. Roy Ful er: Writer and Society. Man-

ern English life in his poems Epitaphs and Occa-

chester, England: Carcanet Press, 1995.

sions (1949) and Counterparts (1954). The former

Tolley, A. T. Roy Ful er: A Tribute. Northfield, Minn.:

depicted left-wing sympathies and man as a social

Carleton University Press, 1993.



Galloway, Janice (1955– ) novelist, short

was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

story writer, librettist

Her second novel, Foreign Parts (1993), a caustic

Known for her technically challenging, funny, yet

and closely observed novel that follows Rona and

tough-minded novels and stories, Janice Galloway

Cassie, two 40-something Scottish women, on a

was born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1955,

driving tour through northern France, won the

the second daughter of James Galloway and Janet

McVitie’s Prize in 1994. That same year Gallo-

Clark McBride. She attended local schools and

way was the recipient of the E. M. Forster Award,

spent an additional year at Ardossan Academy

presented by the American Academy of Arts and

with the intention of becoming a musician. She

Letters. A second story collection, Where You

studied music and English at Glasgow University

Find It (1996), was followed by a series of col-

with a stint as a welfare rights worker. After taking

laborative installation texts for sculptor Anne

her degree, she worked as a teacher for 10 years.

Bevan, published as Pipelines (2002). A play, Fal

She published her first story in the Edinburgh

(1998), was performed in Edinburgh and Paris.

Review and published her first novel, The Trick Is

Galloway was the recipient of a Creative Scotland

to Keep Breathing (1990), to critical acclaim. In

Award in 2001.

this work, written in the form of diary, the nar-

Clara (2002) is a historical novel based on the

rator, Joy, suffers an acute case of depression after

life of Clara Schumann, the tormented virtuoso

the drowning of her lover, Michael, and the novel

pianist and wife of the romantic composer Rob-

charts the course of her attempts to come to terms

ert Schumann. In this novel, Galloway manages

with her mental and cultural condition. One

to combine her interest in music with her interest

critic referred to it as “a woman’s survival novel”;

in representing women’s lives. Structuring her

it was short-listed for the Whitbead First Novel,

novel along the lines of Robert Schumann’s song

Scottish First Book, and Aer Lingus Awards, won

cycle “Frauenliebe und Leben,” Galloway explores

the MIND/Allan Lane Book of the Year and was

the music as well as its composer’s tempestu-

successfully adapted for the stage.

ous life. Galloway’s novel is particularly strong

Her second book, Blood (1991), a collection of

at evoking the sacrifices that a female artist like

vividly bleak and macabre short pieces that intro-

Schumann had to make. Clara grows depressed

duced her work to readers in the United States

at the prospect of letting her compositional and


Galsworthy, John 197

virtuoso skills grow rusty with inactivity while

to inspect the family’s mining investments. Dur-

she is sucked deeper into the relentless chores

ing one such trip, he met the novelist Joseph

of motherhood. Galloway presents the image,

Conrad. Conrad ignited Galsworthy’s passion

as one critic observed, “of a mother rocking her

for writing and eventually introduced him to

infant to sleep as she contemplates professional

Ford Madox Ford and Edward Garnett, who


edited many of Galsworthy’s early novels.

Clara was short-listed for the Commonwealth

By 1895 Galsworthy had largely abandoned

Prize and the SAC Book of the Year, going on to

his law practice for writing. He financed his first

win the Saltire Book of the Year. It was a New York

publication, a collection of short stories entitled

Times Notable Book of the Year in 2003. Galloway

From the Four Winds (1897). Galsworthy’s parents

again pursued the connections between music

discouraged his writing because they believed

and creative women in composing the libretto

it was bohemian. They also feared his blossom-

for an opera, Monster, with the composer Sally

ing relationship with Ada Cooper Galsworthy,

Beamish. It portrays the life of Mary Shelley and

his cousin’s wife. Ada believed her marriage was

was world premiered by the Scottish Opera in

a mistake, and while her husband served in the

February 2002. Galloway lives with her husband

Boer War, she and Galsworthy began an affair.

and son in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

They married in 1905 after his father died and

Ada divorced. Ada served as an editor and model

Another Work by Janice Galloway

for Galsworthy’s fiction.

A Parcel of Rogues. Stromness: Clocktower Press,

Galsworthy frequently depicts characters who


defy Victorian conventions of propriety and sexu-

ality, then experience subsequent guilt, alienation,

and even death. As his fiction developed, he incor-

Galsworthy, John (1867–1933) novelist,

porated such situations into a broader indictment

short story writer, playwright

of Victorian middle-class life. He deplored the

John Galsworthy, the oldest of four children, was

materialism of Victorian society, believing that it

born in Kingston Hill, Surrey, England, to a pros-

fostered social apathy. Wealth, he argued, was the

perous family. His father, also named John Gals-

result of good fortune, and prosperous individuals

worthy, was an attorney and real estate investor

had no cause to judge themselves superior to oth-

who had significant international investments

ers. His third novel, The Island Pharisees (1904),

in the mining industry. His mother, Blanche

powerfully presents his social philosophy. The

Bartleet Galsworthy, was the daughter of a notable

protagonist, a successful attorney, despises the

businessman. The family lived on a sizable estate

middle class and wanders despondently through

outside of London. As prominent society mem-

London’s poorest areas, eventually befriending a

bers, Galsworthy’s parents shared an overriding

French tramp.

Victorian concern for propriety and respectabil-

Galsworthy also used his plays for his social

ity. Therefore they expected Galsworthy to suc-

criticism, beginning with The Silver Box (1906).

ceed his father as an attorney and overseer of the

The productions commonly highlighted corrupt

family’s business interests.

government practices.

In 1886 Galsworthy entered New College,

During World War I, Galsworthy actively sup-

Oxford, to study law. However, his studies bored

ported the war effort, raising funds and supplies

him, and for diversion he turned to gambling and

for both refugees and troops. The war’s severity

romance, continuing in these pursuits even after

depressed him, and the Allies’ victory reshaped

graduating. His affair with an actress prompted

his opinion of English middle-class society.

his father to send him on numerous foreign trips

His later novels depict characters who are more

198 Galsworthy, John

humane and socially aware than the materialistic

However, Galsworthy also hints at a possible

villains of his earlier works.

redemption for the bourgeois. Jolyon Forsyte,

Galsworthy enjoyed immense popularity dur-

Soames’s cousin, marries a governess and becomes

ing the 1920s. He was awarded honorary doctor-

a painter. His actions initially outrage his fam-

ates by Manchester, Dublin, Cambridge, Oxford,

ily and result in his banishment from them. But

and Princeton universities. In 1932 he won the

his father, Old Jolyon, eventually pulls his son

Nobel Prize in literature. Two months later he died

back into the family. Old Jolyon initially shares

of a brain tumor. Almost immediately, his literary

Soames’s crass materialism, but as he gradually

reputation began to decline. Younger novelists,

accepts his son’s decisions, he learns to appreciate

such as Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence,


attacked his novels, arguing that the plots were for-

The second book of the saga, In Chancery

mulaic and the characters were stereotypes infused

(1920), reintroduces the Forsyte family. It also

with sentimentality. For instance, Woolf quipped

reflects Galsworthy’s softening postwar opin-

that to ask writers like Galsworthy “to teach you

ion of British society. The middle-aged Soames,

how to write a novel—how to create characters that

obsessed with fathering an heir, divorces Irene

are real—is precisely like going to a bootmaker and

and marries the much younger Annette Lamotte.

asking him to teach you how to make a watch.”

Ironically, Irene remarries and has a son, while

Today, however, many critics regard Gals-

Soames and his new wife have a daughter.

worthy as the last influential Victorian novelist;

But Galsworthy does not depict Soames as

they praise his ability to create complex narra-

viciously as he does in The Man of Property.

tives and to capture the Victorian character. The

Rather, the author portrays Soames as much more

critic Sanford Sternlicht notes that Galsworthy’s

introspective, and he allows the reader access to

novels express “all the virtues and vices a people

Soames’s thoughts and emotions. Soames now

choose to see in themselves: integrity, endur-

regrets his cruel treatment of Irene, and in the suc-

ance, respect for tradition . . . but also reserve,

ceeding novel, To Let (1921), his love for his daugh-

snobbery, class rigidity, conventionality, and

ter, Fleur, exceeds his concern for monetary gain.


The second Forsyte trilogy begins with The

White Monkey (1924), followed by The Silver Spoon

Critical Analysis

(1928). In the final novel of the saga, Swan Song

The Man of Property (1906) is Galsworthy’s most

(1928), Soames appears as a completely sympathetic

famous novel. This book introduces the Forsyte

figure. When Fleur accidentally ignites a house fire,

family and serves as the foundation for the first

Soames saves her at the cost of his own life.

trilogy that comprises Galsworthy’s celebrated

The Forsyte novels thoroughly entranced con-

Forsyte Saga. The character Soames Forsyte

temporary audiences, and Soames’s death made

dominates the action. Soames is the prototypi-

headlines in several London newspapers. Gals-

cal Victorian “man of property”: he is arrogant,

worthy’s increasingly sympathetic portrayal of

greedy, and insensitive. Above all, he considers

Soames provoked the criticism that ruined his

his wife, Irene, a passionate and sensual woman,

literary reputation in the 1930s, but these detrac-

as a possession. Irene leaves to live with an artist,

tors failed to recognize Galsworthy’s develop-

and in revenge Soames financially ruins the artist

ment as a novelist. His narrative voice reflects a

and rapes Irene after she returns. The novel exem-

willingness to teach the postwar generation about

plifies Galsworthy’s bitterness toward the upper

the failures of the Victorian middle class and to

middle class and provides his most poignant por-

provide them with an example of a better society.

trayal of the social penalties that plague lovers

As the critic James Gindin has noted, Galswor-

who place passion above social convention.

thy’s “work at its best demonstrated a remarkable

Gascoyne, David 199

capacity to reach others, to suggest to them that

reality of their own difference while traveling in

it is also their own saga.”

Jamaica. “White face, white face” one boy yells at

them, “go home.” Of her writing for adults, critic

Works about John Galsworthy

Donna Seaman has remarked, “Gardam enter-

Gindin, James Jack. John Galsworthy’s Life and Art.

tains and enlightens with vibrant descriptions

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1987.

and martini-dry wit.”

Sternlicht, Sanford V. John Galsworthy. Boston:

The Whitbread Award–winning The Queen of

Twayne, 1987.

the Tambourine (1991) is the story of a dissatisfied

middle-aged woman on the brink of madness. The

book is structured around a series of letters from

Gardam, Jane (1928– ) novelist, short

the main character, Eliza, to a neighbor whom

story writer

she hardly knows. To help combat her utter lone-

Jane Gardam was born in the small town of

liness, she writes letters that the reader is made to

Coatham in Yorkshire, England. Her father, Wil-

understand will not be returned: “I wrote you a

liam Pearson, was a well-known schoolmaster and

quick note last week and wonder if it went astray?

her mother, Kathleen Helm Pearson, came from

I know that you and I have not known each

an upper-class background. The theme of class

other for very long and have been neighbors for

difference came to inform Gardam’s later writ-

a very few years, but somehow I feel I know you

ings. She attended Bedford College for Women

very closely.” Another Whitbread winner Anita

in London on a scholarship, receiving a degree in

Brookner praised Gardam for “prose that is

English with honors in 1949. Gardam’s literary

witty, vibrant, and off the wall” and called the

pursuits earned her a reputation as an award-win-

book “[e]xcellently done.”

ning author of both adult and children’s fiction.

In her writing, Gardam has worked to break

Gardam’s first book was A Few Fair Days (1971),

down the divisions between “adult” and “chil-

a collection of nine short stories. Together, these

dren’s” fiction. God on the Rocks (1978), for exam-

stories use the coming of World War II to trace

ple, chronicles the difficult relationship between a

the development of the book’s female protagonist,

mother and daughter and is told from the point of

Lucy, from childhood to early adolescence. Gar-

view of both characters. Gardam has faced con-

dam’s novel A Long Way from Verona (1971) con-

stant challenges in merging the adult and juvenile

tinued what was to become a recurring theme in

genres of fictions from critics who insist on view-

Gardam’s work: the female adolescent experience

ing her primarily as a writer for children. Nev-

in 20th-century Britain. She subsequently estab-

ertheless, as the London Times reviewer Elaine

lished a reputation as a writer of “adolescent fic-

Feinstein has noted, Gardam remains “a spare

tion,” and she has won several prestigious awards

and elegant master of her art.”

for her work in this genre, including a Whitbread

Award for her book about rural life in England,

Other Works by Jane Gardam

The Hol ow Land (1981).

Bilgewater. London: Little, Brown, 2001.

Gardam’s first work of adult fiction, Black

Old Filth. London: Chatto & Windus, 2004.

Faces, White Faces (1975) won the David Higham

The People on Privilege Hil s. Chatto & Windus, 2007.

Prize for Fiction and the Winifred Holtby Prize.

The 10 short stories in this collection deal with

the issue of racial tension and describe the clash

Gascoyne, David (1916–2001) poet,

of black and white cultures in a modern context.

novelist, nonfiction writer

“Something to Tell the Girls” is about two retired

David Gascoyne was born in Harrow, Middlesex,

British female teachers who must confront the

England. His father, Leslie Gascoyne, worked

200 Gee, Maggie

for the Midland Bank, while his mother was, in

Other Works by David Gascoyne

Gascoyne’s own words, “a frustrated actress.” He

Col ected Poems 1988. Oxford: Oxford University

left school at the age of 16 to dedicate himself to

Press, 1988.

writing and immediately managed to publish

David Gascoyne: Col ected Journals, 1936–42. Ed-

his first poetry collection, Roman Balcony and

ited by Kathleen Raine. London: Skoob Books

Other Poems (1932). The following year Gascoyne

Publishing, 1990.

published his first and only novel, Opening Day,

which explores the conflict between a boy and a

father who disapproves of his son’s aesthetic and

Gee, Maggie (1948– ) novelist

cultural yearnings.

Maggie Gee was born in Poole, Dorset, England,

Gascoyne’s early work is heavily influenced by

the daughter of Victor Valentine and Mary Church

French surrealism, a movement devoted to artis-

Gee. She received an M.Litt from Oxford, and in

tically exploring the depths of the unconscious,

1980 she completed her Ph.D. at Wolverhampton

especially relating to dreams, sexuality, and mad-

Polytechnic, where she wrote a thesis on modern-

ness. While visiting France early in his life, Gas-

ist writers. As an author Gee claims to have “felt

coyne became close friends with such influential

the same affinity with writers of both sexes” and

surrealist painters as André Breton and Salvador

names Charles Dickens and Jane Austen among

Dalí, and he introduced their work to the British

her early influences. Named by Granta magazine

public in his popular Short Survey of Surrealism

as one of the best young novelists in 1983, Gee has

(1935). Gascoyne’s collections Man’s Life Is This

established a reputation as an experimental writer

Meat (1936) and Hölderlin’s Madness (1938) show

with a talent for characterization who is unafraid

the surrealistic influence. Lines such as “Butter-

to deal with highly charged social issues.

flies burst from their skins and grow long tongues

The stories told in Gee’s novels range from

like plants” from Salvador Dali (1942) introduced

the sensational to the political. She has achieved

a new and original (if sometimes disturbing and

her greatest success in revising the crime thriller

unsettling) voice in English poetry.

genre. Her first novel, Dying, in Other Words

Gascoyne spent much of his later life living

(1981), tells the story of the mysterious death of

in France, sometimes feeling himself to be more

Moira Penny, a postgraduate literature student at

closely tied to European values and ideas than

Oxford. Her demise in the early pages of the novel

English ones. Indeed, the surrealist writer Philippe

sets off a bizarre series of complicated events that

Soupault once said, “David is not an English poet,

result in the subsequent deaths of several of Moi-

he is a French poet writing in English.” Yet this

ra’s friends and acquaintances. In Lost Children

did not prevent him from obtaining a commission

(1994) Gee turns her attention to more socially

from BBC Radio to write Night Thoughts (1956), a

conscious themes by using the issue of homeless-

long, three-part poem that uses complex, passion-

ness to explore questions of selfhood.

ate language to explore themes of fear and isola-

Gee’s most overtly political works have dealt

tion. Indeed, later in life Gascoyne found himself

with the theme of nuclear disarmament, a cam-

honored on both sides of the channel, being made

paign that she strongly supports as a member of

a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1994

the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The

and a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

Burning Book (1983) takes as its topic the destruc-

in 1996. Poet Allen Ginsberg, an admirer of

tive effects of nuclear weapons on the modern

Gascoyne’s work, summed him up as “a Surrealist

world. As a reviewer for the Times Literary Sup-

poet. He belongs to the Paris School of Surrealism

plement claimed, “Maggie Gee’s writing, with its

of Breton, Eluard, and Ernst, whom he translated

constant references to the hidden ugliness of life

when he lived there before the war.”

presages doom. . . . The Burning Book is an odd

Georgian poetry 201

kind of novel but a marvelously cogent anti-war

whose verse they anthologized were the pioneers

statement.” Similarly, her later novel Grace, pub-

of a new age of poetry that arose in reaction to

lished in 1988, uses the murder mystery genre

Victorian tastes and styles.

to deal with the issue of nuclear contamination.

While some who would become great contrib-

Described as having a “thriller like conclusion”

uted to the volumes, the general evaluation of his-

by the Library Journal, Grace was not as well

tory is that Georgian poetry was not particularly

received by critics as The Burning Book. Pub-

good. Much of it was conventional in verse form

lishers Weekly called the work “ambiguous” and

and style, pastoral and nostalgic rather than for-

argued that “The characters are deftly delineated

ward looking. For example, these lines by Frances

and the issues broached are certainly important,

Ledwidge are not much more than bad romantic

but the novel as a whole neither hangs together


nor convinces.”

Gee has been recognized as an important con-

When the clouds shake their hyssops, and

temporary literary figure in Britain. Although

the rain

some have criticized her story lines as too com-

Like holy water fal s upon the plain,

plicated and overtly political, others have sug-

’Tis sweet to gaze upon the springing

gested that it is the complexity of her language


and characterization that makes her work, in the

words of one New York Times book reviewer, “ter-

The “war” poetry classified as Georgian was con-

ribly affecting.” Elizabeth Hawes, another Times

ventional and blindly patriotic. These lines, from

reviewer, has remarked, “Ms. Gee writes easily and

Brooke’s “The Soldier,” contrast sharply with the

perceptively. She gives her characters strong physi-

war poetry that emerged from Brooke himself

cal presences and she creates tension effortlessly.”

and others who later fought in the trenches:

Other Works by Maggie Gee

If I should die, think only this of me:

The Blue. London: Telegram Books, 2006.

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

The Flood. London: Saqi Books, 2004.

That is for ever England.

The Ice People. London: Richard Cohen Books,


Ironically, the Georgian poets themselves

My Cleaner. London: Saqi Books, 2005.

thought their work was revolutionary. However,

Where Are the Snows. London: Trafalgar Square,

when T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land was published


in 1922, it made Georgian poetry look thoroughly


Still, there are some excellent poems in the

Georgian poetry

anthologies. D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Cruelty

Georgian poetry refers to a series of five vol-

and Love” hints at the passionate encounters

umes of poetry issued in England between the

that are the hallmark of his later novels. (Many

years 1912 and 1922. The term Georgian refers to

critics, however, do not classify Lawrence as a

George V, the king of England at the time. Edward

Georgian poet simply because he was included in

Marsh edited the volumes, which included poetry

the anthologies). Brooke’s ironic poem “Heaven”

by Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert

first appeared in a volume of Georgian Poetry and

Brooke, D. H. Lawrence, and Harold Monro.

satirizes religious belief by imagining a similar

Marsh and Brooke began to publish the volumes

metaphysics among fish. Their deity is “Immense,

with the idea of making modern poetry avail-

of fishy form and mind, / Squamous, omnipo-

able to the general public. They felt that the poets

tent, and kind,” and heaven is “mud, celestially

202 Gibbons, Stella

fair.” A delightful little poem by Harold Monro,

Recognized for its comic genius, Cold Comfort

entitled “Milk for the Cat,” is full of funny, apt

Farm won the prestigious Femina Vie Heureuse

images. As the cat waits for her saucer of milk,

Prixe in 1933. It was adapted for a musical in 1965,

she is “grown thin with desire / Transformed to

for television in 1968, and for film in 1996. Gib-

a creeping lust for milk.” Still, most of the poems

bons was also known for treating young love with

are unironic, pastoral, and nostalgic and are little

both sensibility and romance, as well as for her

read today, though other works by some of the

intimate chronicling of ordinary life during the

poets certainly are.

World War II era, as in The Bachelor (1944) and

The Matchmaker (1949). In 1950 she was elected

a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She

Gibbons, Stella (1902–1989) novelist, short

published her last novel in 1970, still writing for

story writer, poet

her own pleasure.

Born in London to Irish parents Telfod Charles

and Maud Williams Gibbons, Stella Gibbons

Other Works by Stella Gibbons

was the eldest of three children. Her childhood

Conference at Cold Comfort Farm. New York: Long-

was generally unhappy, and she often spent time

man, 1949.

entertaining her younger brothers with imagina-

Here Be Dragons. London: White Lion, 1972.

tive stories. Educated by governesses, Gibbons

did not attend a formal school until the age of 13,

when she went to the North London Collegiate

Gilliatt, Penelope (1932–1993) novelist,

School. When she was 19, she took a journalism

short story writer, screenwriter, film critic

course at University College, London, and worked

Penelope Gilliatt was born in London, England,

as a decoder of cables for the British United Press,

to Cyril Conner, a lawyer, and Mary Douglass

where she claimed she first learned to write. She

Conner. Gilliatt attended college in both England

spent 10 years on Fleet Street in various jobs,

and America, starting first at Queen’s College in

including writing dramatic and literary criti-

London and later studying at Bennington Col-

cism and fashion writing. She was also beginning

lege in Vermont. She married a college professor,

to publish short stories and poems. In 1933 she

Roger William Gilliatt, in 1954 and decided to

married Allan Bourne Webb, an actor and opera

write under her married name even after the two

singer, with whom she had a daughter, Laura.

divorced. Gilliatt was best known for her work

Having already written an acclaimed volume

as a film and drama critic for the New Yorker

of poetry, The Mountain Beast (1930), Gibbons

magazine, a position that she held in conjunction

wrote her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm (1932),

with Pauline Kael from 1968 to 1979. Her work

while traveling on trains to and from her job as

as a novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter,

an editorial assistant for Lady magazine. A biting

however, also earned her much acclaim during

and humorous satire of the pastoral novel, Cold

her lifetime.

Comfort Farm parodies the conventions used by

The themes expressed in Gilliatt’s writ-

contemporary writers, including Mary Webb

ing include issues of class and social change as

and Sheila Kaye-Smith, as well as Thomas Hardy

depicted through the telling of stories about con-

and D. H. Lawrence. The success of this novel

temporary places and events. Many of Gilliatt’s

prompted Gibbons to leave her job at Lady and

short stories first appeared in the New Yorker.

devote herself to writing full time. Cold Comfort

Published collections of her stories include What’s

Farm is the work she is best known for, but her

It Like Out? And Other Stories (1968) and Quota-

other work included 25 novels, four volumes of

tions from Other Lives (1981). Her first novel, One

poetry, and three collections of short stories.

by One (1965), depicts the lives of individuals

Godden, Rumer 203

deeply affected by the physical and emotional

Godden, Rumer (Margaret Rumer

scars left by the German bombing of London dur-

Godden; P. Davies) (1907–1998) novelist,

ing World War II. A State of Change (1967), also

children’s author, memoirist

set in postwar London, continues many of the

Rumer Godden was born in England but spent

themes of dislocation introduced in her first novel

almost all of her early childhood in India, a coun-

by relating the memories of the main characters

try she loved all her life. She later recalled, “We felt

Kakia and Harry as they try to come to grips with

at home, safely held in her large warm embrace,

an England full of economic deprivation and

content as we never were to be content in our own

cultural malaise. Gilliatt paints a grim picture

country.” From her earliest years she meant to be

of Kakia’s arrival in England after the war: “She

a writer. She would hide her poems and prose in

arrived in a London that seemed full of closed

a secret place in the garden: a huge cork tree set

circles and bitterness about income taxes.”

about with amaryllis.

Critic T. Lindvall has characterized Gilliatt’s

In her early teens Godden was sent to school

style as “readable, sassy, flippant, and buoyant.” In

in England, but she was homesick for India. Her

1971 Gilliatt won awards from the National Soci-

English teacher, Mona Swann, quickly noticed

ety of Films Critics, the New York Film Critics,

Godden’s aptitude for writing and offered to help

and the Writer’s Guild of Britain for her screen-

the young woman to develop her talent. Swann

play Sunday Bloody Sunday, which explores the

wrote later: “Voluntarily Rumer wrote draft after

complex relationships forged and broken among

draft and was ever ready to discuss and learn from

the film’s three main characters, who find their

the most ruthless criticism.”

lives intertwined in contemporary London.

At 18 Godden returned to India for a brief

Gilliatt continued her work as a critic through-

holiday and then returned to England to train as a

out her career. To Wit, published in 1990, ana-

ballet teacher. A childhood injury had weakened

lyzes humor’s importance in literature and on the

her back, however, so ballet was painful for her,

silver screen. “Great comedy, great wit makes the

but she persevered and soon returned to India to

ceiling fly off,” claimed Gilliatt, “and suddenly

open a dancing school in Calcutta.

liberates us again as we were when we were much

Godden married in 1934, but tragedy soon fol-

younger and saw no reason not to believe that we

lowed: Her first baby, a boy, died four days after

could fly, or become someone else, or bound on a

birth. To recover from the grief, Godden wrote

trampoline and not come down again.”

frenetically. Neither of her first two novels were ac-

Gilliatt had an exciting and highly produc-

cepted by publishers, but her third attempt, Chinese

tive career as a writer that included success as a

Puzzle (1936), was accepted on the same day that

journalist, novelist, essayist, and critic. Despite

her first daughter was born. This whimsical novel

criticisms that have labeled her work as “elitist”

is written from the perspective of a Pekingese dog

because of her decision to create primarily upper-

recal ing his various incarnations as human and

class characters, her ability to meld characteriza-

Pekingese. It received some mildly positive reviews

tion with contemporary experience has earned

but was not a commercial success; nor was The Lady

her the praise of author Anthony Burgess, who

and the Unicorn (1937), a ghost story and romance.

recognized her as a writer of “great originality . . .

Success finally came with Godden’s third pub-

passion and intelligence.”

lished novel, Black Narcissus (1939), a haunting

story about Sister Clodagh, an English nun who

Other Works by Penelope Gilliatt

founds a convent in the Himalayas. Taking over

22 stories. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986.

an abandoned palace, the nun and her comrades

A Woman of Singular Occupation. New York: Scrib-

struggle with their isolation, the strange palace,

ner, 1989.