For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for The Virgin in the Garden.

The Virgin in the Garden

First edition (publ. Chatto & Windus)

The Virgin in the Garden is a 1978 realist novel by English novelist A. S. Byatt. Set during the same year as the coronation of Elizabeth II, the novel revolves around a play about Elizabeth I of England.[1] The novel features a strong use of symbolism, which The New York Times called "overloaded", that points towards Elizabeth I.[1] The novel is the first of a quartet featuring Frederica Potter, followed by Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996), and A Whistling Woman (2002).[2]

The book features numerous flower metaphors and Byatt described the character of Marcus as "a self-portrait: somebody baffled by things being far too much and not fittable into any of the languages you were offered".[3]


The New York Times describes the writing of "Byatt is essentially a fine, careful and very traditional storyteller."[1]

In a 1998 interview with Philip Hensher, published in The Paris Review in 2001, Byatt commented on a piece which John Sutherland had written in The Bookseller recently claiming that The Virgin in the Garden was "completely unreadable, and that he and a colleague of his and mine at University College had a bet about whether any of them could finish it and none of them could! He actually published that. So I'm always deeply surprised when anyone says anybody is reading it".[4]


  1. ^ a b c Dinnage, Rosemary (1 April 1979). "England in the 50s". New York Times Books.
  2. ^ Yeazell, Ruth Bernard (28 November 2002). "Overindulgence". London Review of Books. pp. 19–21. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  3. ^ Newman, Jenny; Friel, James (2003). "An interview with A. S. Byatt". Cercles. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  4. ^ Hensher, Philip (Fall 2001). "A. S. Byatt, The Art of Fiction No. 168". The Paris Review. Fall 2001 (159).

Further reading

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
The Virgin in the Garden
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 ๐ŸŽ‰! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?