Famous writers, writing… Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge

“I don’t know why everybody doesn’t write because everybody talks.”

Beryl Bainbridge

[photo: Monire Childs]

So says an author who reached the very top of her profession, but her quote is misleading. It implies everyone can write, and ignores the years she spent working on her craft, perfecting it. We can all admire the skill of a gymnast dance on the beam or a concert pianist play Rachmaninov, but we know we could not do it ourselves no matter how much we tried.

Beryl Bainbridge was shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize but never won, until she was presented with a one-off award, the Man Booker Best of Beryl, created especially to honour her five shortlisted novels. They are:-
1973 The Dressmaker
1974 The Bottle Factory Outing
1996 An Awfully Big Adventure
1998 Every Man for Himself
2000 Master Georgie

Beryl BainbridgeMy favourite Bainbridge novel? The Birthday Boys, a fictional account of Captain Robert Scott’s 1910 expedition to Antarctica told from the perspectives of five men on the voyage: Scott; Petty Officer Taff Evans; ship’s medic Dr Edward Wilson; Lieutenant Henry Bowers; and Captain Lawrence Oates.

To read The Guardian’s obituary of Dame Beryl Bainbridge in 2010, click here.

Bainbridge was renowned for her dialogue. Read this interview in The Paris Review in which the novelist talks about her writing life.

‘The Birthday Boys’ by Beryl Bainbridge [UK: Abacus] Buy now

See these other famous people, reading & writing:-
Virginia Woolf
Joseph Conrad
William Golding

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