Anita Brookner (Novelist/Art Historian)

anita-brookner.jpgAnita Brookner CBE (born 16 July 1928) is an English novelist and art historian who was born in Herne Hill, a suburb of London.

Brookner's father, Newson Bruckner, was a Polish immigrant, and her mother, Maude Schiska, was a singer whose father had emigrated from Poland and founded a tobacco factory.

Maude changed the family's surname to Brookner owing to anti-German sentiment in England. Anita Brookner had a lonely childhood, although her grandmother and uncle lived with the family, and her parents, secular Jews, opened their house to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution during the 1930s and World War II.

Brookner, an only child, has never married and took care of her parents as they aged.

Brookner was educated at James Allen's Girls' School. She received a BA in History from King's College London in 1949, and a doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1953. In 1967 she became the first woman to hold the Slade professorship at Cambridge University.

She was promoted to Reader at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1977, where she worked until her retirement in 1988. Brookner was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1990. She is a Fellow of King's College London and of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.

Brookner published her first novel, A Start In Life, in 1981 at the age of 53. Since then she has published a novel approximately every year. Her fourth book, Hotel du Lac, published in 1984, won the Booker Prize.

Brookner is highly regarded as a stylist. Her fiction, which has been heavily influenced by her own life experiences, explores themes of isolation, emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into English society. Her novels typically depict intellectual, middle-class women, who suffer isolation, emotional loss and disappointments in love.

Many of Brookner's characters are the children of European immigrants who experience difficulties with fitting into English life; a number of characters appear to be of Jewish descent.

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