Drabble, Margaret, 1939–, English novelist, b. Sheffield, Yorkshire; sister of A. S. Byatt. Drabble's rigorous and unsentimentally realistic vision of an England split between traditional values and contemporary desires is apparent in such works as The Millstone (1965), The Waterfall (1969), The Needle's Eye (1972), and The Middle Ground (1980), and in her critical studies on Wordsworth (1966) and Arnold Bennett (1974). A noted scholar, she also edited the Oxford Companion to English Literature (1985, 1996). Drabble's later novels have become more complex and her fictional focus has moved from society as a whole to an insightful analysis of the fate of women, as in The Radiant Way (1987), its sequel, A Natural Curiosity (1989), The Gates of Ivory (1991), The Peppered Moth (2001), whose central character is based on her mother, The Seven Sisters (2002), and The Sea Lady (2006). Drabble casts a wider literary net in her novel The Dark Flood Rises (2017), an exploration of old age and mortality. Her complete short stories, 14 in all, were published as A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman (2011). Drabble was made a dame of the British Empire in 2008.
See her autobiographical The Pattern in the Carpet (2009); V. G. Myer, Margaret Drabble: A Reader's Guide (1991); studies by D. Schmidt, ed. (1982), M. H. Moran (1983), S. Roxman (1984), J. V. Creighton (1985), E. C. Rose, ed. (1985), L. V. Sadler (1986), N. F. Stovel (1989), I. Wojcik-Andrews (1995), and N. S. Bokat (1998).
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