Born: 21 November 1934
Died: 2 July 2010 (cancer)
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Best known as: The author of An Awfully Big Adventure
Beryl Bainbridge is the English author famous for stories of working-class families and, in her later years, compact historical novels. Bainbridge first had her first book published at age 37: the 1972 novel Harriet Said. It was a late start but a great one: she consistently received critical praise and eventually was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize five times, although she never won. Her early novels drew on her experiences growing up in Liverpool, where she was expelled from school at the age of 14 and began acting on stage at the age of 16. Her experiences in the theater formed the basis of An Awfully Big Adventure (1989), a novel that was made into a movie starring Hugh Grant. In the 1990s Bainbridge began writing historical novels, including: The Birthday Boys (1991), about the ill-fated expedition of Robert Falcon Scott; Every Man for Himself (1996), about the wreck of the Titanic; Master Georgie (1998) about the Crimean War; and According to Queeney (2001), about the lexicographer Samuel Johnson. Bainbridge was a famous personality in England's literary world, a petite prankster and chain-smoker who was frequently described (to her chagrin) as "eccentric." Her other novels include Another Part of the Wood (1968), Young Adolf (1978, a fiction based on the life of Adolf Hitler and the first of her historical novels), and Winter Garden (1980).
Extra credit: In addition to An Awfully Big Adventure, her novels Sweet William (1973) and The Dressmaker (1973) have been adapted for the screen... Beryl Bainbridge died in the early morning hours of July 2nd, according to her agent; still, some sources list her date of death as July 1st.
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