Margaret Forster

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Margaret Forster
Born (1938-05-25) 25 May 1938 (age 77)
Carlisle, England
Occupation Author
Language English
Genre Fiction
Spouse Hunter Davies

Margaret Forster (born 25 May 1938) is an English author. She was born in Carlisle, England, where she attended Carlisle and County High School for Girls (1949–1956), and then won an Open Scholarship to read modern history at Somerville College, Oxford, from where she graduated in 1960.

After a short period as a teacher at Barnsbury Girls' School in Islington, north London (1961–1963), she has worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to BBC Radio 4 and various newspapers and magazines. She was a member of the BBC Advisory Committee on the Social Effects of Television (1975–1977), the Arts Council Literary Panel (1978–1981), and chief reviewer for non-fiction in the Evening Standard (1977–1980). She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975.

Forster is married to the writer, journalist and broadcaster Hunter Davies. They live in London and in the Lake District.[1]

She is the author of many successful novels, including Georgy Girl (1965, filmed in 1966 and adapted for a short-lived 1970 Broadway musical), Lady's Maid (1990), Diary of an Ordinary Woman (2003), Have the Men Had Enough? (1989) and The Memory Box (1999); two memoirs, Hidden Lives (1995) and Precious Lives (1998); and several acclaimed biographies, most recently Good Wives (2001) and a fictionalised biography of the artist Gwen John, Keeping the World Away (2006). She wrote Rich Desserts and Captain's Thin (1997), an account of the Carr's biscuit factory in Carlisle.

She has won awards for both her fiction and non-fiction works: Elizabeth Barrett Browning: a Biography (Heinemann Award, 1989); Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller (Writers' Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction, 1993 – Fawcett Society Book Prize, 1994); Rich Desserts and Captain's Thin: a Family and Their Times 1831–1931 (Lex Prize of The Global Business Book Award, 1997); Precious Lives (J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography, 1999).


  • 1964 Dames' Delight (Jonathan Cape)
  • 1965 The Bogeyman (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1965 Georgy Girl (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1967 The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1967 A Girl called Fathom (Heinemann)
  • 1968 The Park (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1969 Miss Owen-Owen is at Home (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1970 Fenella Phizackerley (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1971 Mr Bone's Retreat (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1974 The Seduction of Mrs Pendlebury (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1979 Mother Can You Hear Me? (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1980 The Bride of Lowther Fell: a Romance (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1981 Marital Rites (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1986 Private Papers (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1989 Have the Men Had Enough? (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1990 Lady's Maid (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1991 The Battle for Christabel (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1994 Mother's Boys (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1996 Shadow Baby (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1999 The Memory Box (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2003 Diary of an Ordinary Woman 1914–1995 (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2005 Is There Anything You Want? (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2006 Keeping the World Away (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2007 Over (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2010 Isa and May (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2013 The Unknown Bridesmaid (Chatto & Windus)
Biography and history
  • 1973 The Rash Adventurer: the rise and fall of Charles Edward Stuart (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1978 Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman: William Makepeace Thackeray (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1984 Significant Sisters: the Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839–1939 (Secker & Warburg)
  • 1988 Elizabeth Barrett Browning: a biography (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1993 Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1997 Rich Desserts and Captain's Thin: a Family and Their Times 1831–1931 (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2001 Good Wives?: Mary, Fanny, Jennie & Me 1845–2001 (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2004 'Du Maurier, Dame Daphne (1907–1989)', [entry in] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [online ed.] (Oxford University Press)
  • 2006 BP Portrait Award 2006: Catalogue of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery [ Introductory essay by Margaret Forster] (National Portrait Gallery) ISBN 1-85514-373-9
  • 2006 'Character studies [on portraiture]', The Guardian, 10 June 2006 online version
Family memoirs/autobiography
  • 1995 Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir (Viking)
  • 1998 Precious Lives (Chatto & Windus)
Literary editions
  • 1984 Drawn from Life: the Journalism of William Makepeace Thackeray (Folio Society)
  • 1988 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Selected poems (Chatto & Windus)
  • 1991 Virginia Woolf, Flush: a biography (1933) New intro. by Margaret Forster (Hogarth Press)
Criticism and biography of Margaret Forster
  • Bordelon, David, 'Margaret Forster', in Twentieth Century Literary Biographers (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol.155) (Deroit: Gale, 1995), pp. 76–87
  • 'Forster, Margaret', in The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th ed.rev.,ed. Margaret Drabble. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Greenstreet, Rosanna, 'My perfect weekend: Margaret Forster', The Times, 19 December 1992 [Interview]
  • Jones, Nigel, 'Loss is more: an interview with Margaret Forster', Daily Mail, 31 August 2007 Online version
  • 'Margaret Forster', in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol.149 (Detroit: Gale, 2002), pp 62–107
  • 'Margaret Forster', in Contemporary British Novelists, ed. Nick Rennison (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 72–76, ISBN 0-415-21708-3
  • Moseley, Merritt, 'Margaret Forster' in British and Irish Novelists since 1960 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol.271) (Deroit: Gale, 2003), pp. 139–155
  • Patterson, Christina, 'A life less ordinary: Margaret Forster worries, after 30 books, that she loves writing too much', The Independent, 15 March 2003, 20–21 [Interview]
  • Taylor, Annie, 'The difference a day made (14 May 1957) ...Margaret Forster was on a mission', The Guardian, 6 June 1996 [Interview]
  • 'Margaret Forster: An Introduction' by Kathleen Jones, published by Northern Lights 2003 ISBN 0-905404-92-0
  • 'Margaret Forster: A Life in Books' by Kathleen Jones, published by The Book Mill 2012 ISBN 978-0-9567303-8-1


  1. ^ "Margaret Forster profile". Random House. 

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