Byatt, A. S. (Antonia Susan Byatt) [key], 1936–, British novelist; sister of Margaret Drabble. Educated at Cambridge, Bryn Mawr College, Pa., and Oxford, she is a noted critic and novelist whose work is erudite, subtle, and passionate. Her best-known novel, Possession (1989)—at once a mystery, a work of Victorian literary scholarship, a romance, and a philosophical inquiry into the nature of love—won the Booker Prize. Byatt's other fiction includes a quartet of novels, The Virgin in the Garden (1978), Still-Life (1985), Babel Tower (1996), and A Whistling Woman (2002), centered around a Yorkshire family and exploring modern English life. Her novella Angels and Insects (1992) and her novel The Biographer's Tale (2001) both examine Victorian times with a contemporary sensibility; the sweeping novel The Children's Book (2009) tells of a writer, her family, and the wider world during years from the late 19th cent. through World War I. Byatt is also known for studies of Iris Murdoch (1965, 1976) and other literary essays, e.g., Passions of the Mind (1992) and On Histories and Stories (2000); short stories, e.g., Matisse Stories (1993), Elementals (1999), and Little Black Book of Stories (2004); fairy tales (1997); and an appreciation of William Morris and Mariano Fortuny, Peacock and Vine (2016).
See studies by K. C. Kelly (1996), A. Alfer and M. J. Noble, ed. (2001), C. Franken (2001), L. Hadley (2008), and L. Steveler (2009).
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