novelist and art historian, educated at King's College, London, and at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She was Slade Professor of Art at Cambridge from 1967 to 1968. Her first work of fiction, A Start in Life, was published in 1981, since when she has produced a succession of perceptive and elegantly written novels, often dealing with women for whom life has become something to be endured. In Providence (1982) the central character, Kitty Maule, is an academic working on the Romantic tradition who becomes infatuated with a professor of medieval history, while Hotel du Lac (1984, Booker Prize) concerns a romantic novelist who takes refuge in a Swiss hotel and meets a man whom she thinks will transform her life; A Misalliance (1986) is the story of Blanche Vernon, whose husband has deserted her for a younger woman. In Brief Lives (1990) the relationship between a former singer and her self‐obsessive friend Julia is examined. Other novels include Look at Me (1983), Family and Friends (1985), A Closed Eye (1991), Fraud (1992), A Family Romance (1993), A Private View (1994), Incidents in the Rue Laugier (1995), The Next Big Thing (2002), Rules of Engagement (2003), and Leaving Home (2005). She has edited two volumes of the short stories of E. Wharton (1988–9).
Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).