English writer. Her novels portray contemporary life with toughness and sensitivity, often through the eyes of intelligent modern women. They include The Millstone (1965), The Ice Age (1977), The Middle Ground (1980), the trilogy The Radiant Way (1987), A Natural Curiosity (1989), and The Gates of Ivory (1991), and The Witch of Exmoor (1996).
She edited the 1985 and 1995 editions of the Oxford Companion to English Literature.
She was born in Sheffield and educated at Cambridge. After a brief period as an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she began her career as a novelist with A Summer Bird Cage (1964). This novel concerns the tensions between two talented sisters beginning very different lives, and in the works that followed she continued to focus on intelligent young women torn between love, career, and family. Her writing is conventional in its emphasis on tight plotting and clear narrative.
Among her other novels are The Garrick Year (1964) (about actors and acting), Jerusalem the Golden (1967), The Realms of Gold (1975), A Natural Curiosity (1989), The Seven Sisters (2002), and The Sea Lady (2006). She has been a lecturer and critic, and her works also include biographies of writers Virginia Woolf (1973) and Arnold Bennett (1974). She is the sister of novelist A S Byatt.
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