Ann Quin (born 17 Mar 1936 in Brighton, Sussex-? Aug 1973) was a British writer noted for her experimental style. The author of Berg (1964), Three (1966), Passages (1969) and Tripticks (1972), she committed suicide in 1973 at the age of 37. In the 21st century Stewart Home has written in admiration of her work, which remains largely overlooked, although Berg was adapted for film in 1989 as Killing Dad starring Denholm Elliott and Richard E. Grant.
Quin was born in Brighton in March 1936, in a family on the fringes of the working-class and lower-middle class; her father left them and she was raised by her mother alone. She was educated at a Roman Catholic school, the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament in Brighton, until the age of 17. She trained as a shorthand typist and worked in a solicitor's office, then at a publishing company when she moved to Soho and began writing novels.
She suffered mental health problems, receiving electro-shock treatment. She committed suicide in 1973, drowning herself by swimming out into the sea off Brighton's Palace Pier, weeks before the death of her contemporary B. S. Johnson.
Quin is associated with a loosely constituted circle of 'experimental' authors in Sixties Britain, headed by B.S. Johnson and including Stefan Themerson, Rayner Heppenstall, Alan Burns and Eva Figes, influenced by Samuel Beckett and recent French fiction (Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet). They stood in opposition to the dominant tendency for social realism, manifest from John Osborne and John Wain to Karl Miller's Writing in England Today (Penguin, 1968).
Her first novel, Berg, was published by John Calder in 1964. Influenced by Virginia Woolf and other female British modernists, as well as the French nouveau roman, the opening line - "A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father..." - set the tone for a dark, psychological farce set in Quin's hometown, which became the most critically acclaimed of her four novels.
Berg was followed by Three (1966), Passages (1969) and Tripticks (1972), in which Quin continued her formal experimentation, although without making the same critical impact as she had with her debut.
Her work has somewhat fallen into obscurity since her death, such that Lee Rourke could say in 2007 "Who cares about Ann Quin? I do, for one, but why does no one else seem to remember this writer from the front rank of Britain's literary avant-garde?" However, there has been a complete re-print of her works by the Dalkey Archive Press as well as a critical biography by Robert Buckeye. Contemporary non-mainstream authors such as Stewart Home and Rourke have cited her work as influential.
- Gordon, Giles, "Introduction", to Ann Quin, Berg, Dalkey Archive, 2001. pp xii-xiv.
- Rourke, Lee (8 May 2007). "Who cares about Ann Quin?". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Jacques, Juliet (21 December 2013). "Re: Quin: An overdue study of the "experimental" novelist Ann Quin". New Statesman. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- "Stewart Home Gives You Better Orgasms! An Interview With Playground". Stewart Home Society. February 25, 2012.
- Buckeye, Robert, Re: Quin, Dalkey, 2013.
- AnnQuin.com - 'A website responding to the little known, but highly compelling 1960s novelist.'
- Giles Gordon on Berg
- Lee Rourke's Guardian blog on Quin
- Article by Christine Fox on Quin's life and work
- Sharp Side Blog's page about Ann Quin
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