Beryl Bainbridge

“Beryl Bainbridge: (1934-2010) English novelist. Bainbridge’s novels are distinguished by the uncommon psychological acuity with which she treats ordinary people in working class environments. Much of her macabre, black-comic fiction draws on her reflections and memories of growing up in Liverpool under the shadow of World War II. Typically, her first novel, A Weekend with Claude (1967), centers on an act of violence. Another Part of the Wood (1968), examines the death of a child which occurred because negligent adults were preoccupied with their own sexual concerns. Harriet Said (1972), begins with an accidental killing by a thirteen-year-old girl. Bainbridge’s comic irony and sense of destructive forces lurking beneath the familiar are again evident in The Bottle Factory Outing (1974), Sweet William ((1975), A Quiet Life (1976), and Injury Time (1976). Young Adolf (1978) imaginatively reconstructs Hitler’s probable visit to his half-brother in Liverpool in 1912 (to avoid conscription), revealing the violence, paranoia, and posturing of the young man, who craved affection but did nothing to win it. Winter Garden (1980) is a thriller about an English artist who disappears in Russia. In 1984, Bainbridge published the diary she kept during the filming of a BBC television series in 1983, entitled English Journey, or, The Road to Milton Keynes. Her subsequent works of fiction are Filthy Lucre, or the Tragedy or Ernest Ledwhistle (1986) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1989).

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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