Penelope Fitzgerald, who was born on this day 100 years ago, published her first novel at the age of sixty. In this essay Alan Hollinghurst considers Fitzgerald’s difficult life and her furious determination to write.
“There isn’t one kind of happiness, there’s all kinds. Decision is torment for anyone with imagination. When you decide, you multiply the things you might have done and now never can.”
―from OFFSHORE by Penelope Fitzgerald
After publishing her first novel in 1977 at the age of sixty-one, Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000) went on to become one of the most remarkable and highly acclaimed English writers of the last century. Each of the three novels gathered here vividly and unforgettably conjures up an entire world. The Booker Prize-winning novel Offshore limns the marginal existence of an eccentric assortment of barge dwellers on the Thames in the early 1960s, a group of misfits who are drawn to life on the muddy river in exile from the world of the landlocked. Human Voices takes us behind the scenes at the BBC during World War II, as world-weary directors and nubile young assistants attempt to save Britain’s heritage and keep Britons calm in the face of a feared German invasion. In The Beginning of Spring, a struggling English printer living in Moscow in 1913 is abandoned by his wife and left alone to care for his three young children in the face of the impending revolution. Fitzgerald is a genius of the relevant detail and the deftly sketched context, and these narrative gems are marvels of compassion, wit, and piercing insight. READ the introduction by John Bayley here:http://knopfdoubleday.com/…/offshore-human-voices-the-begi…/