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Penelope Fitzgerald Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Golden Child (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bookshop (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
Offshore (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
Human Voices (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
At Freddie's (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Innocence (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Beginning of Spring (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gate of Angels (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Blue Flower (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Means of Escape (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Afterlife (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
A House of Air (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Edward Burne-Jones (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Knox Brothers (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Charlotte Mew And Her Friends (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
So I Have Thought of You (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories(1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fanfare: Fourteen Stories on a Musical Theme(1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
That Glimpse of Truth(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Penelope Fitzgerald was a very influential literary fiction author who surprisingly did not publish her first novel until she was nearly sixty.

Many, particularly in the United States found it easy to condescend to and overlook her, given that she often presented an image of a jam-making and harmless grandmother.

However, she would go on to become a Booker award-winning author that wrote bruising and shrewd novels full of intensity and feeling. She also won several other awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The English biographer and novelist had a reputation for writing intricate, economical, witty, and evocative works. These novels often explore how the many characters in her works deal with their unfortunate circumstances.

Even though it was not until she was in the latter years of her fifties that she began to write, she published more than a dozen works including three biographies and nine novels that won her some of the biggest awards in literary fiction.

Fitzgerald was born to an intellectual and eccentric tribe. Edmund Knox her father worked for “Punch” as an editor while her siblings followed very unconventional paths.

Dilly Knox the eldest was a codebreaker and Cambridge professor during the Second World War and later on wrote “The Knox Brothers,” a group biography in 1977. Her mother was also a writer and freelanced for “The Manchester Guardian.”

Penelope Fitzgerald spent much of her early years in London, where she hated going to prep schools but had no choice. After attending and graduating from Wycombe School, she was admitted to Oxford in 1935.

She was a hazel-eyed, clever girl that turned heads whenever she looked. This was even much more so at Oxford, where there were up to six times more men than women.

Fitzgerald had the privilege of studying with the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien that would later become some of the biggest names in literary fiction.

The Second World War upended Fitzgerald’s plans just as they did everyone else’s. She got a job with the BBC, which then insisted on telling the truth no matter how unpalatable.

She would, later on, tap her experiences working for the BBC during World War II to pen the 1980 published work “Human Voices.” During this time, she also wrote for “Punch” and penned film reviews for a range of outlets.

She would then get married to Desmond Fitzgerald, a dashing Irish soldier with whom she had three children. For a few years, they had a great time as they published “World Review” a well-regarded cultural magazine, and hosted very popular parties.

Things turned sour when the magazine ran into financial headwinds and had to shut down. Desmond who had practiced as a lawyer before the “Great War,” found it difficult to go back to legal life.

He began drinking and this resulted in the unraveling of the family as they fell into poverty. They were reduced to living in homeless shelters until Penelope found a job as a teacher.

It was while she was teaching that she started writing in her free time. Her first work was the 1975 published biography of British designer and artist Edward Burne Jones.

“The Bookshop” by Penelope Fitzgerald is the story of Florence Green, a middle-aged widow whose life has never been harder.

When she opens a bookshop in Hardborough a small town on the Suffolk Coast, she realizes that a kind heart is useless when self-preservation is at stake.
She had purchased the Old House in town to house her bookshop and in doing so, made an enemy Violet Gamart. The latter had earmarked the building as a music and art center to rival Aldeburgh.

Even though she is innocuous in her kindness, Florence is determined to hold on to the property. She defies the lady and soon after gets caught up in the legal and political machinations in town.

It is a whirlwind that will get the community swept up in a battle of independence of authority and spirit and a battle of local loyalties. Delightfully witty and perceptive, the prose is parsed with gemlike bouts of understatement and irony.

Penelope draws quirky characters that make for quite an interesting yet subtle tragicomedy.

Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel “Offshore” introduces Maurice, a male prostitute living on the Battersea bank of the Thames. He is also known to be a huge buyer of stolen goods.

There is an ex-navy man named Richard whose boat is the biggest in the Reach. There is also a faithful but abandoned woman named Nenna, who has to take care of her two young children on the streets of the waterfront.

Surprisingly, it is the bland Nenna and her domestic predicament, which brings the community together into more comic and complex patterns.
Penelope writes a series of vignettes that explore the dynamics of a close-knit community that includes boat-living people and their contacts, friends, and relations that live on the land.

Set in a 1960s world, the work features some high-functioning individuals such as Richard. On the other hand, there are some who seem to be struggling to survive such as Willis, Maurice, and Nenna.

Martha and Tilda who are the latter’s daughters find themselves in between.

Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel “The Blue Flower,” tells the story of Fritz, real name Friedrich von Hardenberg.

The story is set in the latter half of the 18th century and chronicles his journey toward becoming one of his country’s biggest romantic poets.

Penelope creates a complex world of lovers, friends, and family as she also evokes the romantic era in all its moral ambiguity, intellectual voracity, and political turmoil.

“The Blue Flower” is an insightful look into genius while also being a witty, wry, and charming look into domestic life.

It is in the interactions between Fritz and his siblings, his high-strung mother, and his eccentric father that his genius really comes out.

Even what is a highly unlikely romantic liaison with Sophie von Kuhn the young woman in town somehow seems to make perfect sense.

It is a magical story that is at once deeply moving, sad, and funny as it explores the meaning of loss, love, life, and poetry.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Penelope Fitzgerald

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