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Byatt, A. S

LYNN WELLS


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A. S. Byatt is one of Britain's most accomplished writers of contemporary fiction, combining postmodern self-consciousness about the ability of language to represent reality with a vivid sense of characterization and narrative engagement. Noted for her allusive and intellectual style, Byatt is nonetheless a bestselling author, her popularity secure since her 1990 novel Possession: A Romance won the Booker Prize. Although she is often cited as a feminist writer owing to her focus on female characters and issues related to women's lives, Byatt is openly ambivalent about feminist theory, which she feels can lead critics to interpret texts too narrowly, without sensitivity to historical context. Born Antonia Susan Drabble in Sheffield, England in 1936, Byatt became a self-styled “greedy reader” as a child, devouring texts by Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Virginia Woolf, and others. She was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge in the 1950s where, under the influence of F. R. Leavis, she developed a passionate belief in the moral importance of literature. When she married Ian Byatt in 1959, with whom she would have a son and a daughter, she was no longer eligible to hold a doctoral fellowship and left her studies. After her divorce, she was married in 1969 to Peter Duffy, and had two more daughters. Her son Charles was killed at ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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