Bainbridge, Beryl

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bainbridge, Beryl

Beryl Bainbridge (Dame Beryl Margaret Bainbridge), 1933–2010, English author, b. Liverpool. Bainbridge is mainly known for her tightly plotted, rueful, and darkly comic fiction in which dull and simple lives frequently go out of control and violence is never far away. An actress during the 1960s, she published the first of her brief, tightly constructed novels, A Weekend with Claude, in 1967. Her early fiction often reflects her drab, claustrophobic lower-middle-class childhood. Her best-known early novels include The Dressmaker (1973, film 1989), The Bottle Factory Outing (1974), Sweet William (1975, film 1980), and Injury Time (1977). The popular An Awfully Big Adventure (1989, film 1995) reflects her early experiences in the theater. Her later novels tend to be centered around historical events, e.g., The Birthday Boys (1991) concerns Scott's Antarctic expedition, Every Man for Himself (1996) is about the Titanic, and Master Georgie (1998) is set during the Crimean War. Her dark, death-filled last novel, The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress, set in the 1960s, was unfinished and posthumously published in 2011. Bainbridge also wrote short stories, nonfiction, and teleplays. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2000.

See her memoir Front Row: My Life in the Theatre (2005); B. J. Grubisic, Understanding Beryl Bainbridge (2008).

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