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Brenda Webster

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Brenda Webster
Born1936 (age 87–88)
New York City, U.S.
  • Writer
  • critic
  • translator
Alma materSwarthmore College, Barnard College, Columbia University, UC Berkeley
Notable worksVienna Triangle, The Beheading Game, The Last Good Freudian
SpouseIra M. Lapidus
RelativesEthel Schwabacher, George Oppen, Wolf Schwabacher

Brenda Webster is an American writer, critic and translator. She is the author of five novels, including The Beheading Game (2006) and Vienna Triangle (2009), which appeared on bestseller lists in both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times.[1] Her most recent novel, After Auschwitz: A Love Story, published in 2013, is a story of an elderly man dealing with the early stages of dementia as he struggles to hold on to his memories and cope with his changing relationship to his wife.[2]

Webster is the current president of PEN West.[3]



Brenda Webster was born in New York City in 1936, the daughter of abstract expressionist painter Ethel Schwabacher and the prominent entertainment lawyer Wolf Schwabacher. Webster's memoir The Last Good Freudian recounts a privileged childhood that was deeply affected by her family's devotion to Freudian ideology. Webster herself entered psychoanalysis at age 14, but eventually rebelled against what she saw as the patriarchy of orthodox Freudianism.[4]

Webster was educated at Swarthmore College, Barnard College, and Columbia University, and completed doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley.[5] She has three children and five grandchildren, and splits her time between Berkeley and Rome. Her husband is Ira M. Lapidus, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley and author of A History of Islamic Societies.[6][7]



Brenda Webster is the author of five novels: Sins of the Mothers,[8] Paradise Farm,[9] The Beheading Game,[10] Vienna Triangle,[11][12] and After Auschwitz: A Love Story. Her memoir, The Last Good Freudian was published by Holmes and Meier in 2000. Webster also published a translation with Gabriella Romani of Edith Bruck's Holocaust novel, Lettera alla Madre in 2006.[13]

Vienna Triangle, published in Fall of 2009, explores Sigmund Freud's role in the death of a brilliant disciple.[14] Set in the late 1960s, Vienna Triangle follows Kate, a graduate student in psychology at Columbia, as she meets the famed Freudian theorist Helene Deutsch and learns about both the earliest days of psychoanalysis, and her own family's mysterious past.[15]

Webster has also written two critical studies: "Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study"[16] and "Blake's Prophetic Psychology",[17] which have appeared in several anthologies.[18][19] She has also translated poetry from the Italian for The Other Voice[20] and The Penguin Book of Women Poets.[21] She is also the co-editor of Hungry for Light: The Journal of Ethel Schwabacher, and wrote the introduction to the Signet Classics edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.[22][23]

In addition to her novels, translations, and academic books and essays, Webster is a prolific author of fictional short stories. Eleven of these stories were published in the collection Tattoo Bird, published online by FictionNet in 1996, as well as in various journals including Women's Studies, The Chariton Review, Caprice and other literary publications.[24][25]



Brenda Webster has been nominated for two Northern California Book Awards (2007).

  • Fiction: The Beheading Game by Brenda Webster.[26]
  • Translation: Letter to My Mother by Edith Bruck, translated by Brenda Webster.[27]

Her short story Tattoo Bird received an Honorable Mention (second prize) in the H.E. Francis Short Story Competition held by the Ruth Hindman Foundation. It was also twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.[28]


  1. ^ "Scott Manning PR Website". Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Interview with the author, May 2013
  3. ^ "PEN West Website". Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  4. ^ Berman, Jeffrey (May 7, 2000). "Freudian Ideology in the Final Analysis / A memoir offers a respectful critique of life on the couch". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  5. ^ "Women's National Book Association April Spotlight on Brenda Webster: An Interview from the San Francisco Chapter newsletter, Bookworm". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  6. ^ Lapidus, Ira M. (August 22, 2002). A History of Islamic Societies. ISBN 9780521779333. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  7. ^ "UC Berkeley Department of History". Archived from the original on June 18, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  8. ^ Baskerville, 1993
  9. ^ State Univ of New York Pr, 1999
  10. ^ Wings Press, 2006
  11. ^ Wings Press, 2009
  12. ^ "Red Room Biography: Brenda Webster". Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  13. ^ The Free Library by Farlex
  14. ^ Neil Hertz, and Tausk's articles, Oeuvres psychanalytiques (Paris; Payot, 1975)
  15. ^ Berman, Jeffrey (January 13, 2009). "Book review: A tangled 'Vienna Triangle'". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  16. ^ Pep Web Book Search
  17. ^ Open Library
  18. ^ Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study (Stanford)
  19. ^ Blake's Prophetic Psychology (Macmillan)
  20. ^ Australian National Library
  21. ^ John Ranter Review
  22. ^ [|title=Indiana University Press|url=http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=19681 Indiana University Press]
  23. ^ Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 2009. ISBN 978-0451531193.
  24. ^ "Red Room". Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  25. ^ "Brenda Webster's website". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  26. ^ "Wings Press". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  27. ^ "Setton Hall University". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  28. ^ "Brenda Webster's website". Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2013.