Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 2000) was a great English writer, who would
never have described herself in such grand terms. Her novels were short,
spare masterpieces, self-concealing, oblique and subtle. She won the Booker
Prize for her novel Offshore in 1979, and her last work, The Blue Flower,
was acclaimed as a work of genius. The early novels drew on her own
experiences a boat on the Thames in the 1960s; the BBC in war time; a
failing bookshop in Suffolk; an eccentric stage-school. The later ones
opened out to encompass historical worlds which, magically, she seemed to
possess entirely: Russia before the Revolution; post-war Italy; Germany in
the time of the Romantic writer Novalis. Fitzgerald's life is as various
and as cryptic as her fiction. It spans most of the twentieth century, and
moves from a Bishop's Palace to a sinking barge, from a demanding
intellectual family to hardship and poverty, from a life of teaching and
obscurity to a blaze of renown. She was first published at sixty and became
famous at eighty. This is a story of lateness, patience and persistence: a
private form of heroism. Loved and admired, and increasingly recognised as
one of the outs

Hermione Lee—Penelope Fitzgerald - A Life

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  • 9780701184957