Anita Brookner

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Anita Brookner

Anita Brookner.jpg
Born(1928-07-16)16 July 1928
Herne Hill, London, England
Died10 March 2016(2016-03-10) (aged 87)
OccupationArt historian, novelist
Alma materKing's College London
Period1981–2011
GenreDrama
Notable workHotel du Lac

Anita Brookner CBE (16 July 1928 – 10 March 2016)[1] was an English novelist and art historian. She was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge from 1967 to 1968 and was the first woman to hold this visiting professorship. She was awarded the 1984 Booker–McConnell Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac.

Life and education[edit]

Brookner was born in Herne Hill, a suburb of London.[2][3] She was the only child of Newson Bruckner, a Jewish immigrant from Piotrków Trybunalski in Poland, and Maude Schiska, a singer whose grandfather had emigrated from Warsaw, Poland and founded a tobacco factory at which her husband worked after arriving in Britain aged 18. Her mother gave up her singing career when she married and, according to her daughter, was unhappy for the rest of her life.[4][5] Maude changed the family's surname to Brookner because of anti-German sentiment in Britain.[6] Anita Brookner had a lonely childhood, although her grandmother and uncle lived with the family, and her parents, secular Jews, opened their house to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution during the 1930s and World War II. "I have said that I am one of the loneliest women in London" she said in her Paris Review interview.[7][8]

She was educated at the James Allen's Girls' School,[9] a fee paying school. In 1949 she received a BA in history from King's College London, and in 1953 a doctorate in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.[10] Under the supervision of Anthony Blunt, then director of the Courtauld, what was originally a Masters thesis on the French genre painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze was upgraded to a doctorate.[5] However, she received a French government scholarship in 1950 to the École du Louvre and spent most of the decade living in Paris.[9]

Career[edit]

Academic[edit]

In 1967, she became the first woman to hold the Slade Professorship of Fine Art at Cambridge University.[10] She was a visiting lecturer at Reading University from 1959 to 1964 when she became a lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She was promoted to Reader at the Courtauld in 1977, where she worked until her retirement in 1988.[5] She began her career as a specialist on 18th century French art but later extended her expertise to the romantics.[5] She contributed articles to ArtReview in the late 1950s and early 1960s,[11]

Among her students at the Courtauld was art historian Olivier Berggruen, whose graduate work she advised.[12] She was a Fellow of King's College London and of New Hall, Cambridge (Murray Edwards College from 2008).

Photographs taken by Anita Brookner are held in the Conway Library of art and architecture at the Courtauld Institute.[13]

Novelist[edit]

Brookner published her first novel, A Start in Life (1981), at the age of 53. Thereafter, she published roughly a novel a year. Brookner was highly regarded as a stylist. Her novels explore themes of emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into society, and typically depict intellectual, middle-class women who suffer isolation and disappointments in love. Many of Brookner's characters are the children of European immigrants to Britain; a number appear to be of Jewish descent.[2][14] Hotel du Lac (1984), her fourth novel, was awarded the Booker–McConnell Prize in a year when Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard was considered the more likely winner.[5]

Private life and Honours[edit]

Brookner never married, but took care of her parents as they aged. Brookner commented in one interview that she had received several proposals of marriage, but had rejected all of them concluding men were "people with their own agenda, who think you might be fitted in if they lop off certain parts. You can see them coming a mile off." She died on 10 March 2016, at the age of 87.[9] In 1990, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[10]

Publications[edit]

  • Greuze: 1725–1805: The Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth-century Phenomenon (1972) ISBN 9780236176786 (on Jean-Baptiste Greuze)
  • Jacques-Louis David (1980) ISBN 9780064305075 (on the history painter Jacques-Louis David)
  • A Start in Life (1981, US title The Debut) ISBN 9780241976500
  • Providence (1982) ISBN 9780307826213
  • Look at Me (1983) ISBN 9780307826206
  • Hotel du Lac (1984) ISBN 9780307826220 (Booker Prize winner)
  • Family and Friends (1985) ISBN 9780307826237
  • A Misalliance (1986) ISBN 9780307826343
  • A Friend from England (1987) ISBN 9780307826336
  • Latecomers (1988) ISBN 9780307826183
  • Lewis Percy (1989) ISBN 9780307826190
  • Brief Lives (1990) ISBN 9780307826251
  • A Closed Eye (1991) ISBN 9780307826275
  • Fraud (1992) ISBN 9780307826268
  • A Family Romance (1993, US title Dolly) ISBN 9780140234060
  • A Private View (1994) ISBN 9780307826299
  • Incidents in the Rue Laugier (1995) ISBN 9780307826305
  • Altered States (1996) ISBN 9780307826312
  • Visitors (1997) ISBN 9780307826329
  • Falling Slowly (1998) ISBN 9780307826244
  • Undue Influence (1999) ISBN 9780307492364
  • The Bay of Angels (2001) ISBN 9781400033010
  • The Next Big Thing (2002, US title Making Things Better) (longlisted for the Booker Prize)
  • The Rules of Engagement (2003) ISBN 9780141910222
  • Leaving Home (2005) ISBN 9781400095650
  • Strangers (2009) (shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Prize) ISBN 9780307477583
  • "At The Hairdressers" (2011) (novella, available only as an e-book)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Anita Brookner, Booker Prize-winning author, dies age 87, Times announces". BBC News. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Dr Anita Brookner at British Council: Literature
  3. ^ "Anita Brookner, 1928– Notebooks, ca. 1986–1994". Harry Ransom Center. The University of Texas at Austin. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  4. ^ "Anita Brookner". The Times. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e McNay, Michael (15 March 2016). "Anita Brookner obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  6. ^ Gutteridge, Peter (15 March 2016). "Doctor Anita Brookner: Art historian who began writing novels at the age of 53 and won the Booker Prize for Hotel du Lac". The Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Anita Brookner, The Art of Fiction No. 98". Paris Review. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  8. ^ Alam, Rumaan (1 March 2018). "In Praise of Anita Brookner". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "Anita Brookner, novelist - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Cowell, Alan (15 March 2016). "Anita Brookner, Whose Bleak Fiction Won the Booker Prize, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  11. ^ "What is Romanticism", ArtReview, 12 September 1959}
  12. ^ Olivier Berggruen. "Olivier Berggruen on Anita Brookner (1928–2016) - artforum.com / passages". Artforum.com. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Who made the Conway Library?". Digital Media. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  14. ^ Malcolm, Cheryl Alexander. "Understanding Anita Brookner". University of South Carolina. Archived from the original on 31 December 2001.

External links[edit]