Isabel Quigly

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Isabel Madeleine Quigly FRSL (17 September 1926 – 14 September 2018) was a writer, translator and film critic.


She was born in Spain and educated at Godolphin School, Salisbury and Newnham College, Cambridge. In her early career, she worked for Penguin Books and Red Cross Geneva. Between 1956 and 1966, she was film critic of The Spectator. She served as literary editor of The Tablet from 1985 to 1997. She has also contributed to numerous journals and newspapers, and served on the jury of various literary prizes including the Booker Prize jury in 1986.[1][2]

In 1953, her first book, and only novel, The Eye of Heaven, was published. Other books include The Heirs of Tom Brown: The English School Story and Charlie Chaplin: Early Comedies. She has also translated more than 100 books from Italian, Spanish and French. Her most notable translations are Silvano Ceccherini's The Transfer, for which, in 1967, she won the John Florio Prize, and Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. According to Robin Healey's Twentieth-Century Italian Literature in English Translation, Quigly was one of the top 10 translators of Italian literature of the last 70 years, alongside Archibald Colquhoun, Patrick Creagh, Angus Davidson, Frances Frenaye, Stuart Hood, Eric Mosbacher, Raymond Rosenthal, Bernard Wall and William Weaver.[3]

Selected translations[edit]

  • Silvano Ceccherini: The Transfer (John Florio Prize)
  • Giorgio Bassani: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  • Giorgio Bassani: A Prospect of Ferrara
  • Giorgio Bassani: The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles
  • Alba de Céspedes: Between Then and Now
  • Alba de Céspedes: La Bambolona
  • Alba de Céspedes: The Secret
  • Antonio Cossu: The Sardinian Hostage
  • Attilio Veraldi: The Payoff
  • Carlo Cassola: Fausto and Anna
  • Carlo Monterosso: The Salt of the Earth
  • Carlo Picchio: Freedom Fighter
  • Elena Bono: The Widow of Pilate
  • Elsa Morante: Arturo's Island
  • Ercole Patti: That Wonderful November
  • Fabio Carpi: The Abandoned Places
  • Fausta Cialente: The Levantines
  • Fortunato Seminara: The Wind in the Olive Grove
  • Giuliana Pandolfi Boldrini: The Etruscan Leopards
  • Giuseppe Dessì: The House at San Silvano
  • Goffredo Parise: Solitudes
  • Livia Svevo: Memoir of Italo Svevo
  • Lorenza Mazzetti: Rage
  • Luigi Magnani: Beethoven's Nephew
  • Luigi Preti: Through the Fascist Fire
  • Michele Prisco: A Spiral of Mist
  • Nino Palumbo: The Bribe
  • Nino Palumbo: Tomorrow Will be Better
  • Oliviero Honore Bianchi: Devil's Night
  • Oriana Fallaci: Nothing, and So Be It
  • Renato Ghiotto: The Slave
  • Sergio Donati: The Paper Tomb
  • Uberto Paolo Quintavalle: On the Make
  • Georges Simenon: The Family Lie


  1. ^ Debretts profile
  2. ^ "Isabel Quigly: Translator of Italian, Spanish and French literature". The Independent. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  3. ^ Twentieth-century Italian Literature in English Translation, 1998