Magda Szabó (October 5, 1917 – November 19, 2007) was a major Hungarian novelist. She also wrote dramas, essays, studies, memories and poetry.
Born in Debrecen, Szabó graduated from the University of Debrecen as a teacher of Latin and of Hungarian. She started working as a teacher in a Calvinist girls' school in Debrecen and Hódmezővásárhely. Between 1945 and 1949 she worked in the Ministry of Religion and Education. She married the writer and translator Tibor Szobotka in 1947.
She began her writing career as a poet, publishing her first book Bárány ("Lamb") in 1947, which was followed by Vissza az emberig ("Back to the Human") in 1949. In 1949 she was awarded the Baumgarten Prize, which was immediately withdrawn for political reasons. She was dismissed from the Ministry in the same year.
During the Stalinist era from 1949 to 1956, the government did not allow her works to be published. Since her unemployed husband was also stigmatized by the communist regime, she was forced to teach in an elementary school.
She wrote her first novel, Freskó ("Fresco") during these years and when it was published in 1958 it achieved an overwhelming success. Her most widely read novel Abigél ("Abigail", 1970) is an adventure story about a schoolgirl boarding in eastern Hungary during World War II.
She received several prizes in Hungary and her works have been published in 42 countries. In 2003 she was the winner of the Prix Femina Étranger, a French literary award, for the best foreign novel.
Her novel Abigél was popularised through a television series in 1978. Abigél was also chosen as the sixth most popular novel at the Hungarian version of Big Read. Three more of her novels appeared in the top 100: Für Elise, An Old-Fashioned Story and The Door.
Works in English
- The Door (ISBN 0880333049 , ISBN 1-84343-193-9 )
- The Fawn (ASIN B0007E2OQC)
- The Night of the Pig-Killing or Night of the Pigkilling (ASIN B0007E2OOY)
- Tell Sally (ASIN B0007IZJPG)
- Sziget-kék (ISBN 9631173402) (Island Blue in English)
- An Old-fashioned Story (play version)
- Katalin Street
- The Gift of the Wondrous Fig Tree
- Iza's Ballad
- Biography, quotes and publications
- Magda Szabo in the History of Hungarian Literature
- Labours of love, review of "The Door" by The Guardian, October 29, 2005
- The housekeeper with the keys to Hungary's secret sufferings, review of "The Door" by The Independent, 18 January 2006
- Biography, including a list of her translated works