novelist, critic, and historian of ideas, born in London and educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Her novels, which cover a wide cultural and geographical range, include In a Dark Wood (1977), The Skating Party (1983), and The Lost Father (1988). Indigo; or, Mapping the Waters (1992), inspired in part by The Tempest, is an exploration of colonialism and displacement. She has also published volumes of short stories, The Mermaids in the Basement (1993) and Murderers I Have Known (2002), and written several books for children. Her scholarly works include Alone of All Her Sex (1976), about the cult of the Virgin Mary; Joan of Arc (1981); Monuments and Maidens (1985), which traces the uses of the female form in art and iconography; From the Beast to the Blonde (1994), a study of fairy stories; and No Go the Bogeyman (1998), a study of ghouls and ogres. In 1994 she became the first woman to deliver the BBC's Reith Lectures, published as Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time (1994).