Byatt, A.S.


Byatt, A.S.
▪ 2005

      The year 2004 showed British author A.S. Byatt at the apex of her career as an author, literary critic, and academic. She received critical praise for Little Black Book of Stories (2004), a collection of five Gothic tales that tackled such tough issues as aging and death. In discussing her subject matter, Byatt said that she wanted to look at old age “while I'm still physically fit enough to look at it objectively.” She added, “I know that my work is better than it has ever been.” Robust sales of her books, continuing accolades from critics, and ever-increasing speaking engagements bore out her own assessment of her career.

      Antonia Susan Drabble was born on Aug. 24, 1936, in Sheffield, Eng. Her father was a judge, and her half sister and literary rival Margaret Drabble also achieved fame as a British novelist. Byatt graduated with first-class honours in English from Newnham College, Cambridge, where she remained an honorary fellow, and undertook graduate studies at Bryn Mawr (Pa.) College and Somerville College, Oxford. She then embarked on a successful career as a lecturer and published her first novel, The Shadow of the Sun (1964). Four more titles followed before her rise to international acclaim came in 1990 with Possession: A Romance. The novel garnered that year's Booker Prize, among other awards, and was later adapted into a film starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Byatt's next work was Angels and Insects: Two Novellas (1992). The first of the novellas was also adapted for the screen. Later publications included the novels Babel Tower (1996) and The Biographer's Tale (2000), along with collections of short stories and many works of nonfiction, mostly literary criticism. In 1999 Byatt was made a dame.

      Byatt was hailed by John F. Baker in Publishers Weekly as “somewhat of a pillar in the English intellectual establishment” with a “compendious” mind. Her many passions—such as history, fairy tales, and literary criticism—surfaced constantly in her writing. Her page-turning plots unfolded in a lush and exuberant writing style, captivating critics and the reading public alike. At the heart of her work was a search for what connects literature and life: she confessed that she was excited by “literature as a complicated, huge, interrelating pattern.” Her own output was similar; she deftly rendered sketches from academia and Postmodern debate interwoven with credible characters and stories of authentic depth and detail.

      Byatt offered that for her next book she would cover the years 1880 to 1918 in a lengthy novel that was completely different from her previous work.

Siobhan Dowd

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▪ British scholar, literary critic, and novelist
in full  Antonia Susan Byatt , née  Antonia Susan Drabble 
born Aug. 24, 1936, Sheffield, Eng.

      English scholar, literary critic, and novelist known for her erudite works whose characters are often academics or artists commenting on the intellectual process.

      Byatt is the daughter of a judge and the sister of novelist Margaret Drabble (Drabble, Margaret). She was educated at the University of Cambridge, Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Oxford and then taught at University College, London, from 1972 to 1983, when she left to write full-time. Among her critical works are Degrees of Freedom (1965), the first full-length study of the British writer Iris Murdoch.

      Despite the publication of two novels, The Shadow of a Sun (1964) and The Game (1967), Byatt continued to be considered mainly a scholar and a critic until the publication of her highly acclaimed The Virgin in the Garden (1978). The novel is a complex story set in 1953, at the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was written as the first of a projected tetralogy that would chronicle the lives of three members of one family from the coronation to 1980. The second volume of the series, Still Life (1985), concentrates on the art of painting, and it was followed by Babel Tower (1995). Possession (1990), not part of the tetralogy, is part mystery and part romance; in it Byatt developed two related stories, one set in the 19th and one in the 20th century. Considered a brilliant example of postmodernist fiction, it was a popular success and was awarded the Booker Prize for 1990. In addition to her novels, Byatt wrote several collections of short stories, including Sugar and Other Stories (1987), The Matisse Stories (1993), and Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice (1998); Passions of the Mind (1991), a collection of essays; and Angels & Insects (1991; filmed 1995), a pair of novellas.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Byatt — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: A. S. Byatt (* 1936), britische Schriftstellerin Horace Archer Byatt (1875–1933), britischer Kolonialgouverneur von Tanganjika und Trinidad und Tobago Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Byatt —   [ baɪət], Antonia Susan, englische Schriftstellerin, * Sheffield 24. 8. 1936; Schwester von Margaret Drabble. In ihren Romanen verbindet sie realistische Darstellung zunehmend mit symbolischen, mythologischen und literarischen Anspielungen.… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Byatt — This unusual surname is recorded in the spellings of Byatt, Byatte, Byott, Bygate, and possibly other forms as well. It derives from the Middle English locational phrase by the gate , which itself originates in the Olde English geat or yate or… …   Surnames reference

  • Byatt — biographical name Antonia Susan 1936 née Drabble British writer …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Byatt — /buy euht/, n. A(ntonia) S., born 1936, English novelist and short story writer (sister of Margaret Drabble). * * * …   Universalium

  • Byatt — By•att [[t]ˈbaɪ ət[/t]] n. big A(ntonia) S., born 1936, English novelist and short story writer (sister of Margaret Drabble) …   From formal English to slang

  • Byatt — /ˈbaɪət/ (say buyuht) noun A(ntonia) S(usan), born 1936, English novelist and critic; noted for the novel Possession (1990) which won the Booker Prize …   Australian English dictionary

  • Byatt — /buy euht/, n. A(ntonia) S., born 1936, English novelist and short story writer (sister of Margaret Drabble) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Byatt, A(ntonia) S(usan) — orig. Antonia Susan Drabble born Aug. 24, 1936, Sheffield, Eng. British novelist and scholar. Sister of Margaret Drabble, she was educated at Cambridge and taught at University College, London. Her third novel, The Virgin in the Garden (1978),… …   Universalium

  • Byatt, A(ntonia) S(usan) — orig. Antonia Susan Drabble (n. 24 ago. 1936, Sheffield, Inglaterra). Novelista y académica británica. Hermana de Margaret Drabble, se educó en Cambridge y enseñó en el University College de Londres. Su tercera novela, The Virgin in the Garden… …   Enciclopedia Universal