A. S. Byatt Poems

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A. S. Byatt
Was educated at The Mount School, York, Newnham College Cambridge, Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania, USA and Somerville College, Oxford, though her research grant to the latter institution (dependent on single status) ended with her marriage to Ian Byatt (now Sir Ian Byatt). She lectured at London University extra-murally, the Central School of Art and Design and from 1972 to 1981 at University College London. Since leaving University College London to become a full-time writer in 1983, Byatt has published several novels, most notably Possession, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1990. Two of her works have been adapted into motion pictures: Possession and Angels & Insects. Also well-known for her short stories, Byatt has been influenced by Henry James and George Eliot as well as Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Browning, in merging realism and naturalism with fantasy. In her quartet of novels about mid-century England, she is clearly indebted to D.H. Lawrence, particularly The Rainbow and Women in Love. There and in other works, Byatt alludes to, and builds upon, themes from Romantic and Victorian literature. Byatt conceives of fantasy as an alternative to--rather than an escape from--everyday life, and often it is difficult to tell if what is fantastic in her work is actually the irruption of psychosis. More recent books by Byatt have brought to fore her interest in science, particularly cognitive science and zoology. A. S. Byatt's first novel, The Shadow of the Sun, the story of a young girl growing up in the shadow of a dominant father, was published in 1964 and was followed by The Game (1967), a study of the relationship between two sisters. The Virgin in the Garden (1978) is the first book in a quartet about the members of a Yorkshire family. The story continues in Still Life (1985), which won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award, and Babel Tower (1996). The fourth (and final) novel in the quartet is A Whistling Woman (2002). The quartet describes mid-20th-century Britain and Frederica's life as the quintessential bluestocking -- a woman undergraduate at Cambridge at a time when women were heavily outnumbered by men at that University, and later, a divorcÚe with a young son making a new life in London. Like Babel Tower, A Whistling Woman covers the '60s and dips into the utopian and revolutionary dreams of the time. The Matisse Stories, (1993) featured three stories, each describing a painting by Henri Matisse that inspired Byatt, each the tale of an initially smaller crisis that shows the long-present unravelling in the protagonists' lives. Byatt's younger sister, Margaret Drabble, is also a successful novelist, and the rivalry between the two is legendary, although of uncertain origin. It has been suggested by some that, before becoming successful in her own right, Byatt resented her sister because Drabble gained a starred double-first over her own mere double-first. Drabble herself suggests that part of the rift is due, after the death of Byatt's son in a car accident, to the guilt she felt that her own children survived (this reported by Suzie Mackenzie of the UK's Guardian Unlimited.) Byatt has stated publicly that Drabble's depiction of their mother in Drabble's book The Peppered Moth angered her. She has also written several times for British intellectual journal Prospect magazine. She was awarded a CBE in 1990, then a DBE in 1999.

ask to embla, xiii
They say that women change: 'tis so: but you
Are ever-constant in your changefulness,
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