novelist, born in Stroud and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. His first novel, The Swimming Pool Library (1988), is narrated by a 25‐year‐old gay Oxford graduate who by a chance encounter in a public lavatory saves the life of an octogenarian, and is subsequently asked to write his memoirs. The book explores with elegance and Firbankian panache the changing dangers and pleasures of the homosexual alternative culture of the public school and of the London club. The Folding Star (1994) takes its voyeuristic narrator to a Belgian town where he falls in love with one of his private pupils. The novel interweaves the incongruously youthful gay life of an ancient and silent city with the story of a celebrated Belgian symbolist fin‐de‐siècle painter who had himself suffered a sexual obsession. The Spell (1998) presents a gay anatomy of modern Britain, a project pursued to tragic effect in The Line of Beauty (2004, Booker Prize), set in Notting Hill in an era of AIDS and Thatcherism.
Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).