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A. S. Byatt

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Dame

A. S. Byatt

Byatt in 2007
Byatt in 2007
BornAntonia Susan Drabble
(1936-08-24)24 August 1936
Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died16 November 2023(2023-11-16) (aged 87)
London, England
Occupation
  • Critic
  • novelist
  • short story writer
  • poet
Alma mater
Period1964–2016
Spouses
(m. 1959; div. 1969)
Peter Duffy
(m. 1969)
Children4
Relatives
Website
asbyatt.com Edit this at Wikidata

Dame Antonia Susan Duffy DBE HonFBA (née Drabble; 24 August 1936 – 16 November 2023), known professionally by her former married name, A. S. Byatt (/ˈb.ət/ BY-ət),[1] was an English critic, novelist, poet and short story writer. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages.[2][3]

After attending the University of Cambridge, she married in 1959 and moved to Durham. It was during Byatt's time at university that she began working on her first two novels, subsequently published by Chatto & Windus as Shadow of a Sun (1964; reprinted in 1991 with its originally intended title, The Shadow of the Sun) and The Game (1967). Byatt took a teaching job in 1972 to help pay for the education of her son. In the same week she accepted, a drunk driver killed her son as he walked home from school. He was 11 years of age. Byatt spent a symbolic 11 years teaching, then began full-time writing in 1983. The Virgin in the Garden (1978) was the first of The Quartet,[4] a tetralogy of novels that continued with Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996) and A Whistling Woman (2002).

Byatt's novel Possession: A Romance received the 1990 Booker Prize, while her short story collection The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (1994) received the 1995 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. Her novel The Children's Book was shortlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize and won the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her critical work includes two studies of Dame Iris Murdoch (who was a friend and mentor), Degrees of Freedom: The Early Novels of Iris Murdoch (1965) and Iris Murdoch: A Critical Study (1976). Her other critical studies include Wordsworth and Coleridge in Their Time (1970) and Portraits in Fiction (2001).

Byatt was awarded the Shakespeare Prize in 2002, the Erasmus Prize in 2016, the Park Kyong-ni Prize in 2017 and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award in 2018. She was mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[5]

Early life

Antonia Susan Drabble was born in Sheffield, England, on 24 August 1936,[6] as the eldest child of John Frederick Drabble, QC, later a County Court judge, and Kathleen Bloor, a scholar of Browning.[7] Her sisters are the novelist Margaret Drabble and the art historian Helen Langdon. Her brother Richard Drabble KC is a barrister.[8] The Drabble father participated in the placement of Jewish refugees in Sheffield during the 1930s.[9] The mother was a Shavian and the father a Quaker.[9] As a result of the bombing of Sheffield during the Second World War the family moved to York.[10]

Byatt was educated at two independent boarding schools, Sheffield High School and The Mount School, a Quaker boarding school at York.[7]

A "deeply unhappy" child, Byatt did not enjoy boarding school, citing her need to be alone and her difficulty in making friends.[7] Severe asthma often kept her in bed where reading became an escape from a difficult household.[11] She attended Newnham College, Cambridge, Bryn Mawr College (in the United States), and Somerville College, Oxford.[6][12] Having studied French, German, Latin and English at school, she later studied Italian while attending Cambridge so that she could read Dante.[2]

Byatt lectured in the Department of Extra-Mural Studies of the University of London (1962–71),[6] the Central School of Art and Design and from 1972 to 1983 at University College London.[6] She began writing full-time in 1983.[13]

Personal life and death

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Influences

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Writing

Fiction

Byatt wrote a lot while attending boarding school but had most of it burnt before she left.[2]


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Criticism

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Awards and honours

Byatt, pictured in Amsterdam in 2011

Byatt was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1990 New Year Honours,[30] and was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), "for services to Literature", in Elizabeth II's 1999 Birthday Honours.[31][13]

Byatt was mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[5]

In 2008, The Times named her on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.[32]

She was also awarded:

Memberships

Works

Novels

The following books form a tetralogy known as The Quartet: The Virgin in the Garden (1978), Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996) and A Whistling Woman (2002).[6]

  • 1964: Shadow of a Sun, Chatto & Windus[6] reprinted in 1991 with originally intended title The Shadow of the Sun[2]
  • 1967: The Game, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1978: The Virgin in the Garden, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1985: Still Life, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1990: Possession: A Romance, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1996: Babel Tower, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2000: The Biographer's Tale, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2002: A Whistling Woman, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2009: The Children's Book, Chatto & Windus[7]
  • 2011: Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, Canongate ISBN 9780802120847[6]

Short story collections

Novellas

Essays and biographies

  • 1965: Degrees of Freedom: The Early Novels of Iris Murdoch, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1970: Wordsworth and Coleridge in their Time, Nelson[6]
  • 1976: Iris Murdoch: A Critical Study, Longman[6]
  • 1989: Unruly Times: Wordsworth and Coleridge, Poetry and Life, Hogarth Press[6]
  • 1991: Passions of the Mind: Selected Writings, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 1995: Imagining Characters: Six Conversations about Women Writers (with Ignes Sodre), Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2000: On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2001: Portraits in Fiction, Chatto & Windus[6]
  • 2016: Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny, Knopf ISBN 978-1101947470[6]

Texts edited

See also

References

  1. ^ Sangster, Catherine (14 September 2009). "How to Say: JM Coetzee and other Booker authors". BBC News. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Hensher, Philip (Fall 2001). "A. S. Byatt, The Art of Fiction No. 168". The Paris Review. Fall 2001 (159). I got married in 1959 and went to live in Durham, which is another medieval place... I took a university job in 1972 partly out of admiration for Frank Kermode, whose department I went into, and partly because both of my husbands said I had to get a paid job to pay for my son to go to boarding school. My son Charles got killed the same week* so the whole thing became the most dreadful knot. And I taught for eleven years. Really, I didn't want to teach... Looking back on it, I treated my academic life very symbolically. I went on teaching for as long as my son had lived, and the moment I'd taught for that length of time I stopped. *Charles was killed at age eleven by a drunk driver while he was walking home from school.
  3. ^ a b "Honorary Fellows". Newnham College. Archived from the original on 21 October 2020. Her books have been translated into thirty-two different languages.
  4. ^ Newman, Jenny; Friel, James (2003). "An interview with A. S. Byatt". Cercles. Retrieved 11 September 2010. I have always had a romantic idea that the writer or the artist was, as Coleridge and Virginia Woolf said, androgynous. The whole of The Virgin in the Garden quartet is about the desirability of an androgynous mind... JN & JF: I notice that the quartet which begins with The Virgin in the Garden is sometimes called The Frederica Quartet. ASB: My paperback publisher, you will be glad to hear, is going to make it a boxed set, and it's just going to be called The Quartet. It isn't Frederica's book—though she's the sort of person who would muscle in and try to take it!
  5. ^ a b "Murakami Projected to Win the Nobel Prize". Poets & Writers. 2012. And the list goes on and on, including such contemporary literary greats as Kazuo Ishiguro, Ursula Le Guin, David Malouf, Salman Rushdie, A. S. Byatt, Milan Kundera, Julian Barnes, and John Ashbery...
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be "Dame A. S. Byatt". British Council: Literature. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Leith, Sam (25 April 2009). "Writing in terms of pleasure". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2015. Born Antonia Susan Drabble, she writes under Byatt (the name of her first husband) and signs her emails 'ASD' (her second husband is Peter Duffy). Her email address presents her as 'Arachne'. And her grandchildren, running into the room waving plastic toys, do, as promised, call her 'AS'... George Eliot—along with Robert Browning—is one of the fixed stars by which Byatt navigates, and the story told of Eliot could as easily have been told of her disciple.
  8. ^ Gruber, Fiona (1 February 2014). "Blend life to thicken the plot". The Australian. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b Drabble, Margaret (20 April 2010). "Art Thou Contented, Jew? The British novelist on England, the Jews, and anti-Semitism today". Tablet.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Newman, Jenny; Friel, James (2003). "An interview with A. S. Byatt". Cercles. Retrieved 11 September 2010. Most of the gap was caused by the death of my son. I went to teach at University College simply to pay his school fees, and he got killed the week I accepted the job. I wouldn't have otherwise become a teacher, I wanted to become a writer... [Possession] I thought about Christina Rossetti and decided that I really don't like her, so had a go at Emily Dickinson. I managed to combine them and make a whole new person. [Do you see yourself as a provincial novelist?] I find it quite hard to do the earth if it's not Yorkshire earth. I'm beginning to be able to do the Cévennes, where I live in the summer, but that's not unlike Yorkshire.
  11. ^ Chace, Rebecca (17 November 2023). "A. S. Byatt, Scholar Who Found Literary Fame With Fiction, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Sir Ian Byatt biography". watercommission.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  13. ^ a b c d "At-a-glance: Booker shortlist 2009". BBC News. 8 September 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d e f McGrath, Charles (9 October 2009). "The Saturday Profile: A Novelist Whose Fiction Comes From Real Lives". The New York Times. Ms. Byatt has three grown daughters (a son died in an accident at age 11) and is a proud, even doting, parent and grandparent.
  15. ^ a b c d e "AS Byatt, ingenious and cerebral novelist who won the Booker Prize for Possession—obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 17 November 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  16. ^ Walker, Tim (27 March 2009). "Why Margaret Drabble is not A. S. Byatt's cup of tea". The Daily Telegraph.
  17. ^ Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, 16 June 1991.
  18. ^ a b Brace, Marianne (9 June 1996). "That thinking feeling". The Observer. She never quite relaxes, although we dip into subjects as varied as her grandchildren and how 'one should feed small children delightful words' to her unexpected admiration for Georgette Heyer's 'deeply moving' romantic novels.
  19. ^ "A. S. Byatt (24 August 1936 – 16 November 2023). A statement from Chatto & Windus, Vintage Books, UK". Penguin. 17 November 2023.
  20. ^ Vassell, Nicole (17 November 2023). "Author of Possession and The Children's Book AS Byatt dies aged 87". The Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  21. ^ Newman, Jenny; Friel, James (2003). "An interview with A. S. Byatt". Cercles. Retrieved 11 September 2010. I have always had a romantic idea that the writer or the artist was, as Coleridge and Virginia Woolf said, androgynous. The whole of The Virgin in the Garden quartet is about the desirability of an androgynous mind... JN & JF: I notice that the quartet which begins with The Virgin in the Garden is sometimes called The Frederica Quartet. ASB: My paperback publisher, you will be glad to hear, is going to make it a boxed set, and it's just going to be called The Quartet. It isn't Frederica's book—though she's the sort of person who would muscle in and try to take it!
  22. ^ Byatt, A. S. (13 October 2003). "A Stone Woman". The New Yorker.
  23. ^ "English Writer A.S. Byatt". Fresh Air. WHYY-FM. 21 November 1991. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (16 August 2002). "Reviews: Possession". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 16 October 2022.
  25. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards". 1997.
  26. ^ Spurgeon, Brad (1991). "A. S. Byatt Interview from 1991—on Prolificacy". Archived from the original on 29 December 2020.
  27. ^ Byatt, A. S. (November 1979). "Judging the David Higham Award". Literary Review. They said when they invited me to judge the David Higham award for first novels this year that it would not be too onerous—about 20 books, they said. There were, in fact, 37.
  28. ^ "A. S. Byatt's articles in Prospect". Prospect. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  29. ^ "A. S. Byatt's articles in The Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  30. ^ "No. 51981". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1989. p. 7.
  31. ^ "No. 55513". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1999. p. 7.
  32. ^ "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". The Times. 5 January 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  33. ^ "PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award". LibraryThing. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  34. ^ Rex, Leah (25 April 2022). "A Booker Prize Winner to Celebrate National Poetry Month". littleinfinite.com.
  35. ^ "2 Novelists Awarded Fiction Prizes in Ireland". The New York Times. 6 October 1990. A. S. Byatt, an English novelist, has won the Irish Times-Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize for her novel Possession, which will be published in the United States this month by Random...
  36. ^ "Commonwealth Writers' Prize Regional Winners 1987–2007" (PDF). Commonwealth Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2007.
  37. ^ "Honorary DLitt". University of Durham. Archived from the original on 31 October 2022.
  38. ^ "Honorary Graduates of the University" (PDF). University of Liverpool. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  39. ^ "Honorary degree recipients: 1994". University of Portsmouth. Archived from the original on 31 October 2022.
  40. ^ "Previous honorary graduates and fellows". University of London. Archived from the original on 31 October 2022.
  41. ^ "Il Malaparte 1995 ad Antonia Susan Byatt". Premio Malaparte. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  42. ^ "Winners of The Aga Khan Prize". The Paris Review. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  43. ^ "Winners". Mythopoeic Awards. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  44. ^ "Selected Honorands: Arts and Humanities and Economics". University of Cambridge. 22 February 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2018.
  45. ^ "Honorary Fellows by year of election" (PDF). Newnham College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2022.
  46. ^ "Honorary Graduates: 2004–11". University of Kent. Archived from the original on 14 August 2020.
  47. ^ "List of Honorary Fellows". University College London. 22 December 2020. Archived from the original on 6 August 2022.
  48. ^ "A. S. Byatt Recipient of the 2009 Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 27 March 2009.
  49. ^ "Honorary doctorates: 2000 to the present day". Leiden University. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020.
  50. ^ "Book prize winners revealed". 14 April 2016.
  51. ^ "Britse schrijfster A.S. Byatt krijgt Erasmusprijs" (in Dutch). NOS. 17 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  52. ^ "Press release: Erasmus Prize 2016 awarded to A.S. Byatt". 17 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  53. ^ Flood, Alison (18 January 2016). "AS Byatt wins €150,000 Erasmus prize for 'exceptional contribution to culture'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  54. ^ "Elections to the British Academy celebrate the diversity of UK research". The British Academy. 21 July 2017.
  55. ^ "A.S. Byatt to be awarded 2017 Park Kyong-ni Literature Prize". donga.com. 28 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  56. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  57. ^ "2017 Summit Highlights Photo". Academy member and award-winning British theater and costume designer John Napier presents the Golden Plate Award to English novelist and essayist Dame Antonia Susan Byatt at the 2017 Summit in Mayfair, London.
  58. ^ Gadd, Stephen (11 September 2017). "AS Byatt scoops prestigious Danish literary prize". The Copenhagen Post. Archived from the original on 9 January 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  59. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Sciences—Newly Elected Members" (PDF). April 2014.

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A. S. Byatt
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