So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald

Overview

'The most illuminating, most moving collection of letters that I have ever read. The writing glows with love, wit and intellectual passion'

Financial Times

Acclaimed for her exquisitely elegant novels - including the Booker Prize-winning Offshore - and superb biographies, Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the finest British authors of the last century. Published here for the first time are her collected letters. An unparalleled record of the life of this greatly admired writer, ...

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Overview

'The most illuminating, most moving collection of letters that I have ever read. The writing glows with love, wit and intellectual passion'

Financial Times

Acclaimed for her exquisitely elegant novels - including the Booker Prize-winning Offshore - and superb biographies, Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the finest British authors of the last century. Published here for the first time are her collected letters. An unparalleled record of the life of this greatly admired writer, they reveal her most important family relationships and friendships, and paint a clear picture both of herself and of her correspondents. They show us how she managed her own career - according to her own convictions - and how determined she was to put her world view across. A fascinating portrait of Penelope Fitzgerald as a mother, as a friend and as a writer, they give the same pleasure they give to those who first opened them.

'Wise and wonderful . . . her letters offer an essential guide, perhaps better than any biography could do'

Independent on Sunday

'There is little ground to doubt that Fitzgerald was a writer of genius'

TLS

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Editorial Reviews

Guardian Book of the Year
Until a biography of this genius comes along, we have these letters, so ironic, idiosyncratic, and beautiful.
Sunday Times
Self-deprecating, wry . . . the novelist's comic brio is wonderfully on show.
Financial Times
Among the most illuminating, moving collections of letters that I have ever read. The writing glows with love and wit [and] intellectual passion.
Times Literary Supplement
Characteristically short, exquisitely constructed, and saying something extremely important, but something subtle and under-celebrated about the human condition as well! The letters are exciting for what they contribute towards the understanding of Fitzgerald's imagination.
Sunday Express
The pleasure of other people's mail is the trivia and Fitzgerald doesn't disappoint in this department. This book is crammed with domestic detail and reflections on food and drink, taxes and laws, seasons and landscapes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007136414
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 449,993
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Penelope Fitzgerald

Penelope Fitzgerald (1916–2000) was the author of nine novels, three biographies, and one collection of short stories. The Bookshop was short-listed for the Booker Prize, which she then won for Offshore. Her final book, The Blue Flower, won the National Book Critics award. Terence Dooley is Fitzgerald's son-in-law. A. S. Byatt is the Booker Prize–winning author of Little Black Book of Stories and Possession.

Biography

Although some of her novels were published previously in the U. S., Penelope Fitzgerald remained little known to a general American audience until 1997, when Houghton Mifflin's trade paperback imprint, Mariner, published The Blue Flower, which was chosen as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award.

The then 81-year-old Fitzgerald was selected as winner of the NBCC Award over fellow nominees Don DeLillo, Philip Roth and Charles Frazier, winning her first American literary award. In her native England, Fitzgerald had long been a favorite of critics and writers. Her novel Offshore won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, and three of her novels -- The Bookshop, The Gate of Angels, and The Beginning of Spring -- were finalists for the Prize.

Fitzgerald began her writing career late in life. She was sixty years old in 1977 when her first novel, The Golden Child, was published, a book she wrote to entertain her husband, who was dying of cancer. Much of her previous sixty years' experience informs her writing, from her days as a lowly assistant at the BBC (Human Voices), to a stint living on a houseboat in the Thames (Offshore), to working at a bookstore in a seaside village (The Bookshop).

Fitzgerald was born into a distinguished intellectual and professional family, the daughter of E. V. Knox, who was editor of Punch, and the granddaughter on both sides of Anglican bishops (her father and three uncles are the subjects of her biography, The Knox Brothers). She won a scholarship to Oxford and graduated shortly before the Second World War.

With her husband, Desmond, she ran a small literary journal called the World Review, which reprinted pieces by such writers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Dylan Thomas.

Author biography courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.

Good To Know

Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?"

While studying on scholarship at Oxford, one of Fitzgerald's fellow students was J.R.R. Tolkien.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 17, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lincoln, England
    1. Date of Death:
      May 3, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Somerville College, Oxford University, 1939

Table of Contents

Preface A.S. Byatt ix

Introduction Terence Dooley xiv

A Note on the Text xliii

Family Tree xliv

I Family and Friends

Hugh Lee ('Ham') 3

Tina Fitzgerald 33

Maria Fitzgerald 95

Maryllis Conder ('Willie') 174

Rachel Hichens and Elizabeth Barnett 209

Mary Knox 223

Helen Knox 230

II Writing

Richard Garnett 233

Harold Macmillan 249

Mavis Batey 250

Malcolm Muggeridge 254

Colin Haycraft 255

Francis King 263

Norah Hartley 293

Mary Lago 294

J. Howard Woolmer 330

Richard Ollard 370

Stuart Proffitt 420

James Saunders 436

Graham Chesney 437

A. L. Barker 438

Harvey Pitcher 442

Frank Kermode 452

Hilary Mantel 454

Bridget Nichols 455

Alyson Barr 456

Dorothy Coles 459

J. L. Carr 465

Sybille Bedford 468

Julian Barnes 469

Michael Holroyd 472

Alberto Manguel 475

Masolino d'Amico 477

Richard Holmes 479

Mandy Kirkby 480

Chris Carduff 487

Poems 522

Acknowledgements 527

Index 529

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