On Penelope Fitzgerald
Filed under: Fiction
Susannah Clapp, Alan Hollinghurst, Hermione Lee and Penelope Lively discuss Penelope Fitzgerald
‘I am drawn to people who seem to have been born defeated,’ Penelope Fitzgerald once wrote. She considered herself one of these, and despite great early promise lived much of her life in drudgery and near destitution. Then, in her late 50s, she began to write. Over the next two decades, she not only published three biographies, but nine brief and brilliant novels, four of which were shortlisted for the Booker, Offshore winning it. At 80, Fitzgerald found fame both sides of the Atlantic. Chaired by Hermione Lee, whose widely acclaimed biography of Fitzgerald was published last autumn, and who will speak about her life, three writers celebrate one of the great writers of the 20th Century, and one of the most fascinating. Biographer and critic Susannah Clapp, who regularly edited Fitzgerald’s work at the LRB, considers her biography of the poet Charlotte Mew. Penelope Lively, who was a friend, talks about The Gate of Angels. Alan Hollinghurst looks at Offshore, a novel based on Fitzgerald’s experiences of living on a leaky houseboat on the Thames.