A.S. Byatt could be called the patron saint of bookworms. She describes her often-bedridden childhood self as having been "kept alive by fictions" mostly the novels of Dickens, Austen, and Scott. She has always been a self-described greedy reader, who weaves her many interests biology, history, philosophy among them into her work. The results are novels with, as she has often stated, "the whole world in them" books that teem with characters and ideas, books in which reading and writing usually prove a matter of life, death, and freedom.
Born in Yorkshire, England, A.S. Byatt read English at Cambridge and continued her studies at Bryn Mawr (PA) and Oxford. She taught English and American literature at University College in London before returning to full-time writing in 1983. In 1990, she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Buckingham Palace, and in 1999 she was made a Dame of the British Empire, honors which recognized her work as a writer and her overall service and contributions to the United Kingdom. In 2002, she received the German Toepfer Foundation's Shakespeare Prize for distinguished contributions to British culture. Her work is translated into 28 languages.
This evening's reading by A.S. Byatt is jointly sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, the department of literature at CMC, and the Athenaeum.