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Margaret Drabble

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Gender Female
Age 83
Date of birth June 5,1939
Zodiac sign Gemini
Born Sheffield
United Kingdom
SiblingsRIchard Drabble
Helen Langdon
A. S. Byatt
Spouse Michael Holroyd
Clive Swift
Movies/Shows A Touch of Love
Awards E. M. Forster Award
St. Louis Literary Award
Education Newnham College
University of Cambridge
Children Joe Swift
Rebecca Swift
Adam Swift
ParentsKathleen Marie Bloor
John F. Drabble
Books The Millstone
The Millstone
The Ice Age
A Summer Bird-Cage
The Dark Flood Rises
Date of Reg.
Date of Upd.
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Margaret Drabble Life story

Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd, DBE, FRSL is an English novelist, biographer and critic. Her first novel appeared in 1963. She won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1966 for The Millstone, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1967 for Jerusalem the Golden.

Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd, (born 5 June 1939) is an English novelist, biographer and critic. Her first novel appeared in 1963. She won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1966 for The Millstone, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1967 for Jerusalem the Golden. She edited two editions of The Oxford Companion to English Literature and has written non-fiction on Arnold Bennett, Angus Wilson, William Wordsworth and Thomas Hardy.

Early life

Drabble was born in Sheffield, the second daughter of the advocate and novelist John F. Drabble and the teacher Kathleen Marie (née Bloor). Her older sister is the novelist and critic Dame Antonia Byatt (A.S. Byatt); the youngest sister is the art historian Helen Langdon, and their brother, Richard Drabble, is a QC (lawyer).

After attending the Quaker boarding-school Mount School at York, where her mother was employed, Drabble received a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English. She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1960, and served as an understudy for Diana Rigg and Vanessa Redgrave, before leaving to pursue a career in literary studies and writing.


As of 2016, Drabble has published 19 novels. Her first, A Summer Bird-Cage, was published in 1963. Her early novels were published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1963–87); more recently, her publishers have been Penguin and Viking. Her third novel, The Millstone (1965), brought her the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1966, and Jerusalem the Golden won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1967. She also wrote The Needle's Eye in 1972.A theme of her novels is the correlation between contemporary England's society and its individual members. Her characters' tragic faults reflect the political and economic situation and the restriction of conservative surroundings, making the reader aware of the dark spots of a seemingly wealthy country. Most of her protagonists are women.

The realistic descriptions of her figures often owe something to Drabble's personal experiences. Thus, her first novels describe the life of young women during the 1960s and 1970s, for whom the conflict between motherhood and intellectual challenges is being brought into focus, while 1998's The Witch of Exmoor shows the withdrawn existence of an old author. Though inspired by her own life, her works are not mainly autobiographical. She has also written several screenplays, plays and short stories, as well as non-fiction such as A Writer's Britain: Landscape and Literature and biographies of Arnold Bennett and Angus Wilson. Her critical works include studies of William Wordsworth and Thomas Hardy. Drabble also edited two editions of The Oxford Companion to English Literature in 1985 and 2000. In 2011, A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, a collection of her short stories, was published.Drabble chaired the National Book League (now Booktrust) from 1980 to 1982.

Awards and honours

Drabble was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours, the University of Cambridge awarded her an honorary Doctorate in Letters in 2006, and she was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours. In 2003, she was the recipient of the St. Louis Literary Award, given by the Saint Louis University Library Associates.In 2011, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".

Views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq

In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Drabble wrote of the anticipated wave of anti-Americanism, saying, "My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world", despite "remembering the many Americans that I know and respect". She wrote of her distress at images of the war, her objections to Jack Straw about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and "American imperialism, American infantilism, and American triumphalism about victories it didn't even win". She recalled George Orwell's words in Nineteen Eighty-Four about "the intoxication of power" and "the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever". She closed by saying, "I hate feeling this hatred. I have to keep reminding myself that if Bush hadn't been (so narrowly) elected, we wouldn't be here, and none of this would have happened. There is another America. Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon".

Personal life

Drabble was married to the actor Clive Swift between 1960 and 1975; they had three children, including the gardener and TV personality Joe Swift, the academic Adam Swift, and Rebecca Swift (d. 2017), who ran The Literary Consultancy. In 1982, Drabble married the writer and biographer Sir Michael Holroyd; they live in London and Somerset.

Drabble's relationship with her sister A. S. Byatt has sometimes been strained because of the presence of autobiographical elements in both their writing. While their relationship is no longer especially close and they do not read each other's books, Drabble describes the situation as "normal sibling rivalry" and Byatt says it has been "terribly overstated by gossip columnists" and that the sisters "always have liked each other on the bottom line."



A Summer Bird-Cage (1963)

The Garrick Year (1964)

The Millstone (1965)

Jerusalem the Golden (1967)

The Waterfall (1969)

The Needle's Eye (1972)

The Realms of Gold (1975)

The Ice Age (1977)

The Middle Ground (1980)

The Radiant Way (1987)

A Natural Curiosity (1989)

The Gates of Ivory (1991)

The Witch of Exmoor (1996)

The Peppered Moth (2001)

The Seven Sisters (2002)

The Red Queen (2004)

The Sea Lady (2006)

The Pure Gold Baby (2013)

The Dark Flood Rises (2016)

Collaborative novel

London Consequences (1972) – also co-editor

Short fiction

The Gifts of War (1969)

"Hassan's Tower" (1980), published by Sylvester & Orphanos

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories (2011)


Wordsworth (Literature in Perspective series) (1966)

Arnold Bennett: A Biography (1974)

The Genius of Thomas Hardy (ed.) (1976)

For Queen and Country: Britain in the Victorian Age (1978)

A Writer's Britain: Landscape in Literature (1979)

Angus Wilson: A Biography (1995)

The Oxford Companion to English Literature (ed.; 5th & 6th edns) (1985, 2000)

The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws (2009)

Critical studies and reviews of Drabble's work

Rubenstein, Roberta (Spring 1994). "Fragmented bodies/selves/narratives : Margaret Drabble's postmodern turn". Contemporary Literature. 35 (1).

Glenda Leeming. Margaret Drabble (Liverpool University Press; 2004, 2020) ISBN 9781786946546


External links

Margaret Drabble at British Council: Literature

Margaret Drabble at IMDb

Barbara Milton (Fall–Winter 1978). "Margaret Drabble, The Art of Fiction No. 70". The Paris Review. Fall-Winter 1978 (74).

One Pair of Eyes: Margaret Drabble, BBC2, 9 March 1968, BBC Archive site

Barbara Milton, "Margaret Drabble, The Art of Fiction No. 70", The Paris Review, Fall-Winter 1978, No. 74.

Margaret Drabble's research files for her 1995 biography of novelist Sir Angus Wilson are housed at the University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives.


Margaret Drabble Photos

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