Michèle Roberts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Michèle Brigitte Roberts (born 20 May 1949) is a British writer, novelist and poet. She is the daughter of a French Catholic teacher mother (Monique Caulle) and English Protestant father (Reginald Roberts), and has dual UK–France nationality.

Early life[edit]

Roberts was born to a French Catholic mother and English Protestant father in Bushey, Hertfordshire,[1] but raised in Edgware, Middlesex. She was educated at a convent, expecting to become a nun, before reading English at Somerville College, Oxford, where she lost her Catholic faith.[2] She also studied at University College London, training to be a librarian. She worked for the British Council in Bangkok, Thailand, in this role from 1973 to 1974.


Active in socialist and feminist politics (the Women's Liberation Movement) since the early 1970s, she formed a writers' collective with Sara Maitland, Michelene Wandor and Zoe Fairbairns. At this time Roberts was the Poetry Editor (1975–77) at Spare Rib, the feminist magazine, and later at City Limits (1981–83). Her first novel, A Piece of the Night, was published in 1978. Her 1992 novel Daughters of the House was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.[3]

She is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by the French government, but has turned down an OBE as a consequence of her republican views.[4]

Michèle Roberts is an Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and was Visiting Professor in Writing at Nottingham Trent University for several years.

Paper Houses, a memoir of her life since 1970, was published in 2007: "Drawing on her diaries of the period, she brings back a more political, though also hedonistic era of radical feminism, communes and demonstrations. And the friendships she made and has kept ever since, notably with fellow feminist writers such as Sara Maitland, Micheline Wandor and Alison Fell. Roberts also self-analyzes the effects of her Anglo-French family’s Catholicism (‘the nun in my head, that monstrous Mother Superior’), which have remained a fertile source, even as she reacted against its overt doctrines. Her exploration of London, the various areas and houses that she lived in, went alongside her development as a writer. For her, writing ‘meant voyaging into the unknown and having adventures’ though also ‘bearing witness to other people’s stories as well as my own’."[5]



  • Food, Sex & God: on Inspiration and Writing, 1988, Virago Press


  • A Piece of the Night, 1978, Women's Press
  • The Visitation, 1978, Women's Press
  • The Wild Girl (Also known as The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene), 1984, Methuen
  • The Book of Mrs Noah, 1987, Methuen
  • In the Red Kitchen, 1990, Methuen
  • Psyche and the Hurricane, 1991, Methuen
  • Daughters of the House, 1992, Virago and Morrow (USA)
  • During Mother's Absence, 1992, Virago
  • Flesh & Blood, 1994, Virago
  • Impossible Saints, 1998, Ecco Press
  • Fair Exchange, 1999, Little, Brown
  • The Looking Glass, 2000, Little, Brown
  • The Mistressclass, 2002, Little, Brown
  • Reader, I Married Him, 2006, Little, Brown
  • Ignorance, 2012, Bloomsbury Publishing [6]
  • The Walworth Beauty, 2017, Bloomsbury


Short stories[edit]

  • Your Shoes, 1991[7]
  • During Mother's Absence, 1993, Virago
  • Playing Sardines, 2001, Virago
  • Mud: Stories of Sex and Love, 2010, Virago



  • Maria Soraya García-Sánchez: Travelling in women's history with Michèle Roberts's novels : literature, language and culture. Bern : Lang, 2011 ISBN 978-3-0343-0627-0
  • Susanne Gruss: The pleasure of the feminist text : reading Michèle Roberts and Angela Carter. Amsterdam : Rodopi, 2009 ISBN 978-90-420-2531-8
  • Nick Rennison: Contemporary British novelists. London : Routledge, Taylor & Francis, 2005 ISBN 0-415-21708-3, p. 137–140


  1. ^ "Michèle Roberts", British Council, Literature.
  2. ^ Discussed in memoir Paper Houses, 2007.
  3. ^ The Booker Prize 1992.
  4. ^ "Life Story", Michèle Roberts' website.
  5. ^ Jules Smith, "Critical Perspective". British Council, Literature, 2008.
  6. ^ Helen Dunmore, "Ignorance by Michèle Roberts - review", The Guardian, 25 May 2012.
  7. ^ BBC English literature.

External links[edit]