Penelope Fitzgerald

Penelope Fitzgerald

A Life

eBook - 2014
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Random House, Inc.
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’ S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A Best Book of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times
Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography


The acclaimed biographer of Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf gives us an intimate portrait of one of the most quietly brilliant novelists of the twentieth century.

Penelope Fitzgerald was a great English writer whose career didn't begin until she was nearly sixty. She would go on to win some of the most coveted awards in literature—the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Now, in an impeccable match of talent between biographer and subject, Hermione Lee, a master biographer and one of Fitzgerald's greatest champions, gives us this remarkable writer’s story. Lee’s critical expertise is on dazzling display on every page, as it illuminates this extraordinary English life. Fitzgerald, born into an accomplished intellectual family, the granddaughter of two bishops, led a life marked by dramatic twists of fate, moving from a bishop’s palace to a sinking houseboat to a last, late blaze of renown. We see Fitzgerald’s very English childhood in the village of Hampstead; her Oxford years, when she was known as the “blonde bombshell”; her impoverished adulthood as a struggling wife, mother and schoolteacher, raising a family in difficult circumstances; and the long-delayed start to her literary career.

Fitzgerald’s early novels draw on her own experiences—working at the BBC in wartime, at a bookshop in Suffolk, at an eccentric stage school in the 1960s—while her later books open out into historical worlds that she, magically, seems to entirely possess: Russia before the Revolution, postwar Italy, Germany in the time of the Romantic writer Novalis. Fitzgerald’s novels are short, spare masterpieces, and Hermione Lee unfurls them here as works of genius. Expertly researched, written out of love and admiration for this wonderful author’s work, Penelope Fitzgerald is literary biography at its finest—an unforgettable story of lateness, persistence and survival.


From the Hardcover edition.

Baker & Taylor
An intimate portrait of the forefront 20th-century writer discusses how her personal experiences inspired her later-in-life writing career and the creations of such award-winning novels as The Gate of Angels and Offshore. Simultaneous.

Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2014
ISBN: 9780385352352
0385352352
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks

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uncommonreader
Mar 23, 2016

A well-written, sympathetic biography chronicling the life of Fitzgerald from early privilege, success and promise through hardship to late success. I read Fitzgerald's novels as I read this biography and they enriched each other.

manoush Mar 07, 2015

An extremely well-written biography based on a staggering amount of material, yet masterfully arranged in a way that doesn't overwhelm or drown the reader. Lee's respect and admiration for Fitzgerald is clear on every page; it's refreshing to see a biographer respect her subject's silences and evasions. Lee does a fabulous job capturing Fitzgerald's late-blooming creativity. Like a detective, she reads almost every scrap Fitzgerald ever wrote (including teaching notes and comments on student essays) to tease out the long gestation of the writer's ideas. This book is a wonderful work of appreciation for values that don't carry much purchase nowadays. Values of reticence, understatement, nonconformism, and devotion to lost causes and establishment outsiders.

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readatyeg
Jun 19, 2014

So interesting to read about a person who wasn't just handed everything in life but who overcame obstacles to pursue an intellectual life in difficult circumstances. Also a great literary review of her work -- each major novel is discussed in it's own chapter. Knowing about the writer's life just makes the novels that much more interesting -- however they also stand on their own as thoughtful and hugely entertaining works. Enjoy!

stewaroby Mar 14, 2014

Hermione Lee has written a model of a literary biography; the perfect mix of telling detail, considered judgement and sympathetic but honest examination, all written in a style that makes the reader want to just keep on reading.

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