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A. S. Byatt - Author

About the Author

A.S. Byatt is internationally known as a novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, as well as The Shadow of the Sun, The Game and The Biographer's Tale. Her latest novel, The Children's Book, is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009. She is also the author of two novellas, published together as Angels and Insects, and four collections of stories, and has co-edited Memory: An Anthology. Educated at York and Newnham College, Cambridge, she taught at the Central School of Art and Design, and was Senior Lecturer in English at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer in 1983. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.

Featured books by A. S. Byatt

Other books by A. S. Byatt

Peacock and Vine Fortuny and Morris in Life and at Work

Peacock and Vine Fortuny and Morris in Life and at Work

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/07/2016

This ravishing book opens a window onto the lives, designs, and passions of two charismatic artists. Born a generation apart, they were seeming opposites: Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish aristocrat thrilled by the sun-baked cultures of Crete and Knossos; William Morris, a British craftsman, in thrall to the myths of the North. Yet through their revolutionary inventions and textiles, both men inspired a new variety of art, as vibrant today as when it was first conceived. Acclaimed writer A.S. Byatt traces their genius right to the source. The Palazzo Pesaro Orfei in Venice is a warren of dark spaces leading to a workshop where Fortuny created his designs for pleated silks and shining velvets. Here he worked alongside the French model who became his wife and collaborator, including on the `Delphos' dress - a flowing gown evoking classical Greece. Morris's Red House, outside London, with its Gothic turrets and secret gardens, helped inspire his stunning floral and geometric patterns; it also represented a coming together of life and art. But it was Kelmscott Manor in the English countryside that he loved best - even when it became the setting for his wife's love affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Generously illustrated with the artists' beautiful designs - pomegranates and acanthus, peacock and vine - A.S. Byatt brings the visions and ideas of Fortuny and Morris dazzlingly to life.

Possession

Possession

Author: A. S. Byatt, Philip Hensher Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/10/2013

When mild-mannered and unremarkable academic Roland Mitchell stumbles upon a letter written by Victorian poet Randolph Ash to a mysterious woman with whom he seems to be infatuated, he is determined to uncover the truth. Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize, Possession defies categorization. Rich in symmetry and symbolism, brimming over with myth, poetry and fairy tale, Byatt's masterpiece is part literary detective story, part academic satire and part historical novel. At its heart, however, is a compelling romance that draws the reader into the mirrored worlds of two couples, past and present, and explores the nature of obsession, possession and love.

Virgin in the Garden

Virgin in the Garden

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 15/01/2013

In 1953, at an isolated boys' school in the Yorkshire moors, is a young teacher, Alexander Wedderburn, whose imagination had been captured by the Queen Elizabeth of Shakespeare and Spenser and who has written an historical verse play about her. Now, suddenly, his play has been taken up by a wealthy patron of the arts who envisions its production on the most magnificent scale, for it is to be the climax of a local festival honoring the new Queen Elizabeth. The novel holds us in suspense as it carries us to the great event of the play itself-in its Midsummer-Night's atmosphere of dream, of magic, of transforming revelry-that will alter forever the course of all the characters' lives.

Ragnarok

Ragnarok

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 07/02/2012

Ragnark retells the finale of Norse mythology. A story of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves. Just as Wagner used this dramatic and catastrophic struggle for the climax of his Ring Cycle, so A.S. Byatt now reinvents it in all its intensity and glory. As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Godsa book of ancient Norse mythsand her inner and outer worlds are transformed. How could this child know that fifty years on many of the birds and flowers she took for granted on her walks to school would become extinct? War, natural disaster, reckless gods and the recognition of impermanence in the world are just some of the threads that A.S. Byatt weaves into this most timely of books.

Game

Game

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 02/11/2011

When they were little girls, Cassandra and Julia played a game in which they entered an alternate world modeled on the landscapes of Arthurian romance. Now, the sisters are grown and have become hostile strangers-until a figure from their past, a man they once both loved and suffered over, reenters their lives. It is the skittish, snake-obsessed Simon who draws Julia and Cassandra into his charismatic orbit...and into menacing proximity to each other, their discarded selves, and the game that neither of them has completely forgotten. What ensues is both shocking and as inevitable as a classical tragedy.

Matisse Stories

Matisse Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 29/10/2009

In this elegant set of stories, three modern women are touched in different ways by the paintings of Henri Matisse. In "e;Medusa's Ankles,"e; a distinguished translator visits a hair salon hoping to regain a hint of her youthful looks. Hung on the wall before her is one of Matisse's iconic portraits. In "e;Art Works,"e; the three inhabitants of one household-a generous wife, her petulant husband, and their regal housekeeper-make very different artists. And in "e;The Chinese Lobster,"e; a self-tortured, anorexic art student confronts the smug opulence of Matisse's nudes while pondering suicide.

Children's Book

Children's Book

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 06/10/2009

Shortlisted for the Man Booker PrizeA spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prizewinning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around a famous childrens book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.When Olive Wellwoods oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museuma talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olives magical talesshe takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country houseand the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven childrenconceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these livesof adults and children alikeunfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.Taking us from the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme, The Childrens Book is a deeply affecting story of a singular family, played out against the great, rippling tides of the day. It is a masterly literary achievement by one of our most essential writers.From the Hardcover edition.

Angels & Insects

Angels & Insects

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 23/04/2009

In two breathtakingly accomplished novellas, A. S. Byatt explores the landscape of Victorian England, where science and spiritualism are both popular manias and domestic decorum coexists with brutality and perversion. In "e;Morpho Eugenia"e;, a shipwrecked naturalist is rescued by a wealthy family and immediately falls for the eldest daughter. But before long the family's clandestine passions come to seem as inscrutable as the behavior of insects. In "e;The Conjugial Angel,"e; a circle of fictional mediums finds itself haunted by the ghost of a very real historical personage. Angels & Insects offers further proof of Byatt's prodigious powers and magical sympathy for characters who might have been our great-great-grandparents.

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/03/2009

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories , edited by A. S. Byatt, herself the author of several collections of short stories, is the first anthology to specifically take the English short story as its theme. The 37 stories featured here are selected from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranging from Dickens, Trollope, and Hardy to J. G. Ballard, Angela Carter, and Ian McEwan, though many draw ingeniously from the richness of earlier English literary writing. There are all sorts of threads of connection and contrast running through these stories. Their subjects vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the momentous to the trivial, from the grim to the farcical. There is English empiricism, English pragmatism, English starkness, English humour, English satire, English dandyism, English horror, and English whimsy. There are examples of social realism, from rural poverty to blitzed London; ghost stories and tales of the supernatural; surreal fantasy and science fiction. There are stories of sensibility, precisely delineated, from Hardy's reluctant bride to the shocked heroine of Elizabeth Taylor's The Blush, from H. E. Bates's brilliant fusion of class, sex, death, and landscape, to D. H. Lawrence's exploration of a consciousness slowly detaching itself from its world. There are exuberant stories by Saki and Waugh, Wodehouse and Firbank, with a particularly English range from high irony to pure orchestrated farce. The very range and scope of the collection celebrates the eccentric differences and excellences of English short stories. Some of A. S. Byatt's choices clearly take their place in the grand tradition of story-telling, while others are more unusual. Many break all the rules of unity of tone and narrative, appearing to be one kind of story before unexpectedly turning into another. They pack together comedy and tragedy, farce and delicacy, elegance and the grotesque, with language as various as the subject matter. As A. S. Byatt explains: 'My only criterion was that those stories I selected should be startling and satisfying, and if possible make the hairs on the neck prickle with excitement, aesthetic or narrative'.

Possession A Romance

Possession A Romance

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/08/2007

The perfect gift for Valentine's Day Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.

Whistling Woman

Whistling Woman

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: eBook Release Date: 01/01/2007

This triumphant conclusion to A. S. Byatt's great quartet of postwar English life and manners stands on its own as a magical and thought-provoking novel of ideas made flesh. Frederica, the spirited heroine of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, and Babel Tower, falls almost by accident into a career in television in London, while tumultuous events in her home county of Yorkshire threaten to split her world. In the late 1960s, the languages of religion, myth, and fairy tale overlap with the terms of science and the new computer age. The meaning of love itself seems to vanish and people flounder, often comically, while searching for their true sexual, intellectual, and emotional identities. Through her wayward, lovingly drawn characters and breathtaking twists of plot, A. S. Byatt illuminates the effervescence of intellectual and social life in 1960s Britain.

A Whistling Woman

A Whistling Woman

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/09/2003

It is 1968 and Frederica Potter is surprised to find herself embarking on a new career in television. While she endeavours to navigate this fast-paced and occasionally bewildering industry, her lover John takes up a post working with a pair of unusual scientists. Yet in Frederica's home county of Yorkshire, tumultuous events are unfolding. Soon her future, and that of the people closest to her, begins to look rather different. THE FOURTH FREDERICA POTTER NOVEL

Portraits In Fiction

Portraits In Fiction

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/2002

Portraits seem the opposite of fiction, fixed in time and space, not running with the curve of a story or a life. Yet since the birth of the novel, writers have been fascinated by portraits as icons, as motifs, as images of character and evocations of past time. A. S. Byatt delves into the complex relations between portraits and characters, and between portraits and novels as whole works of art. Her authors range from Henry James to Iris Murdoch, her artists from Holbein to Botticelli, Manet to the present day. She looks at the way writers use portraits to conjure up the past, as in Ford Madox Ford's The Fifth Queen and Virginia Woolf's Orlando. She explores their erotic use, the idea of painting as a sexual act, full of danger. And she examines the creation of fictional portrait painters by writers like Balzac and Zola, whose writing was closely linked, in different ways to the art of Cezanne. A portrait can defy the process of age but its very stillness can also seem like death. Art can be a murderer. And sometimes, as in Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, a portrait can itself become the victim of Gothic rage.

On Histories And Stories

On Histories And Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/11/2001

In her powerful opening essays - 'Fathers', 'Forefathers' and 'Ancestors' - A. S. Byatt considers the renaissance of the historical novel and discusses particularly the novel of wartime experience; the surprising variety of distant pasts that British writers have invented; and the new 'Darwinian novel'. These afford new readings of writers from Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green to Anthony Burgess, William Golding and Muriel Spark, and other contemporary authors, including Penelope Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis and Pat Barker. She also offers fascinating insight into her own translation of historical fact into fiction in the two novellas which make up Angels and Insects.

The Biographer's Tale

The Biographer's Tale

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2001

Phineas G. Nanson, a disenchanted graduate student, decides to immerse himself in the messiness of `real life' by writing a biography of a great biographer. But a `whole life' is hard to find. Everywhere he looks he discovers only fragments - strange notes, boxes of marbles, undated postcards. As Phineas's research continues, his mind roams from the deserts of Africa to the maelstroms of the Arctic. Along the way he meets others building wholes from bits and pieces - taxonomists, ecologists, even travel agents - and begins to puzzle out his future. But who will guide him from the labyrinth and back into his own life?

Elementals Stories of Fire and Ice

Elementals Stories of Fire and Ice

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/10/1999

In the same delectable format as The Matisse Stories, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion - the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives. A scholar pursues an elusive biographer, stumbling upon buried fragments of distant lives; a woman walks out of her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings range from the heart of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, form chalk-strewn classrooms to herbscented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds.

Unruly Times Wordsworth and Coleridge in Their Time

Unruly Times Wordsworth and Coleridge in Their Time

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/07/1997

Unruly Times is a superlative portrait of the relationship between Wordsworth and Coleridge, and a fascinating exploration of the Romantic Movement and the dramatic events that shaped it. With a novelist's insight and eye for detail, A. S. Byatt brings alive this tumultuous period and shows a deep understanding of the effects upon the minds of Wordsworth, Coleridge and their contemporaries - de Quincey, Lamb, Hazlitt, Byron and Keats.

Still Life

Still Life

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/04/1997

Babel Tower

Babel Tower

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/04/1997

After her husband becomes violent, Frederica Potter flees with her young son to London. There, she secures a teaching position in an art school, and finds herself surrounded by painters and poets with dreams of rebellion. Then Frederica meets Jude Mason, the strange and charismatic author of a wildly controversial novel. When her husband files for divorce and Jude becomes the target of a high-profile court case, Frederica's life threatens to spiral out of control. THE THIRD FREDERICA POTTER NOVEL

Sugar And Other Stories

Sugar And Other Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/1996

It should come as no surprise that short stories by the author of the magical Possession are populated by erudite paranoiacs, witches, changelings, and the ghost of a dead child. A S Byatt's short fictions explore the fragile ties between generations, the dizzying abyss of loss and the elaborate memories we construct against it, resulting in a book that compels us to inhabit other lives and returns us to our own with new knowledge, compassion, and a sense of wonder.

Imagining Characters

Imagining Characters

Author: A. S. Byatt, Ignes Sodre Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/10/1996

Analysts and novelists are both concerned with our innermost thoughts and feelings. Does their reading of fiction differ or overlap? In this book, British novelist A.S. Byatt meets Ignes Sodre, a Brazilian psychoanalyst, to discuss six great novels by six female novelists, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte's Villette , Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, The Professor's House by Willa Cather, Iris Murdoch's An Unofficial Rose and Beloved by Toni Morrison. As they explore the subtleties of each book, they reveal that a writer's creativity is linked not only to structures of the family and society, but to the mysteries of dreams, fantasy and metaphor.

The Djinn In The Nightingale's Eye Five Fairy Stories

The Djinn In The Nightingale's Eye Five Fairy Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/09/1995

A S Byatt's fairy tales and fables are among the best-loved features of her fiction. Innumerable readers have asked for the two marvellous fairy tales in POSSESSION - 'The Glass Coffin' and 'Gode's Tale' of the Breton Naie des Trepasses - to be published seperately. Here they take their place with three other stories with medieval and oriental settings. The title story, 'The Djinn and the Nightingale's Eye', a long story about an Englishwoman in Turkey who unwittingly releases a genie from his bottle, is a reflection on women's lives, on magic and on the power of storytelling itself.

Still Life

Still Life

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 18/05/1995

Frederica Potter arrives at Cambridge University greedy for knowledge, sex and love. It isn't long before she becomes infatuated with a mysterious and controlling poet. Back in Yorkshire, her sister Stephanie abandons academia and is confronted with the boredom and frustrations of motherhood. Meanwhile, their younger brother Marcus begins to recover from a nervous breakdown. Each sibling is desperate to shape their own future, but a horrifying event will soon change their lives forever.

Degrees Of Freedom The Early Novels of Iris Murdoch

Degrees Of Freedom The Early Novels of Iris Murdoch

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/12/1994

First published in 1965, A.S. Byatt's Degrees of Freedom examined the first eight novels of Iris Murdoch, identifying freedom as a central theme in all of them, and looking at Murdoch's interest in the relations between art and goodness, master and slave, and the novel of character in the nineteenth century sense. Drawing on Iris Murdoch's own critical and philosphical writing, A.S. Byatt discussed her interest in the thought of Sartre, Plato, Freud and Simone Weil, and related this to the form of the novels themselves. This edition of Degrees of Freedom has an added dossier of later essays and reviews of Iris Murdoch's work by A.S Byatt, taking us up to the publication of The Book and the Brotherhood in 1987. It also includes a substantial pamplet written for the British Council which follows Murdoch's fiction as far as The Good Apprentice.

The Virgin In The Garden

The Virgin In The Garden

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/12/1994

In Yorkshire, the Potter family are preparing to celebrate Elizabeth II's arrival on the throne. Its three youngest members, however, are preoccupied with other matters. Stephanie has grown tired of their overbearing father and resolves to marry the local curate. Anxious teenager Marcus gains a new teacher and suffers increasingly disturbing visions. Then there is Frederica. On the brink of adulthood, a love affair with a young playwright may offer the freedom she desperately desires. THE FIRST FREDERICA POTTER NOVEL

The Matisse Stories

The Matisse Stories

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/11/1994

Each story is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling -- about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our being. Their subjects' lives unravel from simple beginnings -- a trip to the hair dresser, a cleaning woman's passion for knitting, lunch in a Chinese restaurant but gradually the veneer of ordinariness is peeled back to expose pain, reveal desire, or express the intensity of joy in color and creation. These stories are all about human beings: about how little we can know (or may care to know) about the people with whom we spend our lives, and how tragic the results of that ignorance or indifference can be.

Angels And Insects

Angels And Insects

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/10/1993

Like A.S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel, Possession, these two mesmerising novellas are set in the nineteenth century. In Morpho Eugenia, an explorer realises that the behaviour of the people around him is alarmingly similar to that of the insects he studies. In The Conjugal Angel, curious individuals - some fictional, others drawn from history - gather to connect with the spirit world. Throughout both, Byatt examines the eccentricities of the Victorian era, weaving fact and fiction, reality and romance, science and faith into a sumptuous, magical tapestry.

The Game

The Game

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/1992

Cassandra is an Oxford don; Julia, her sister, a bestselling novelist. They share a set of disturbing memories of a strange childhood game and of Simon, the handsome young neighbour who loved them both. Years later Simon re-enters their lives via a television programme on snakes and intrudes into their uneasy compromise of mutual antagonism and distrust. The old, wild emotions surge back, demanding and urgent, and this time the game is played out to a fatal finish.

The Shadow Of The Sun A Novel

The Shadow Of The Sun A Novel

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/10/1991

It is the height of summer. After she is expelled from boarding school, Anna Severell returns to the strict, orderly house of her father, a celebrated novelist. The family is soon joined by Oliver Canning, a talented young academic who urges her to take control of her future. As autumn begins and Anna enters university, the pair grow closer. A single mistake, however, could put her newfound independence at risk...

Passions of the Mind:Selected Writings

Passions of the Mind:Selected Writings

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/08/1991

A selection reflecting the varied enthusiasms of A.S. Byatt, this work sweeps from the Romantics and Victorians to modern British writers, from the art of Van Gogh to the poems of Sylvia Plath. Two sections trace Byatt's fascination with the complex links between the symbolic and the real, and her changing views on language and her own craft of writing. A.S. Byatt's novels include Shadow of the Sun , The Game , The Virgin in the Garden , Still Life , Sugar and Other Stories and Possession: a Romance , winner of the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize and the 1990 Booker Prize.

Possession A Romance

Possession A Romance

Author: A. S. Byatt Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/02/1991

Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time. WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

Selected Essays, Poems and Other Writings

Selected Essays, Poems and Other Writings

Author: A. S. Byatt, George Eliot Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/09/1990

The works collected in this volume provide an illuminating introduction to George Eliot's incisive views on religion, art and science, and the nature and purpose of fiction. Essays such as 'Evangelical Teaching' show her rejecting her earlier religious beliefs, while 'Woman in France' questions conventional ideas about female virtues and marriage, and 'Notes on Form in Art' sets out theories of idealism and realism that she developed further in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. It also includes selections from Eliot's translations of works by Strauss and Feuerbach that challenged many ideas about Christianity; excerpts from her poems; and reviews of writers such as Wollstonecraft, Goethe and Browning. Wonderfully rich in imagery and observations, these pieces reveal the intellectual development of this most challenging and rewarding of writers.

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