Penelope Fitzgerald (17 December 1916 – 28 April 2000) was a Booker Prize-winning English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, The Blue Flower, as one of "The 10 best historical novels".

She was the daughter of Punch editor Edmund Knox and Christina Hicks, one of the first woman students at Oxford. She was the niece of theologian and crime writer Ronald Knox, cryptographer Dilly Knox and Bible scholar Wilfred Knox. Fitzgerald later wrote,

When I was young I took my father and my three uncles for granted, and it never occurred to me that everyone else wasn't like them. Later on, I found that this was a mistake, but I've never quite managed to adapt myself to it. I suppose they were unusual, but I still think that they were right, and insofar as the world disagrees with them, I disagree with the world.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford; she worked for the BBC during World War II. In 1941, she married Desmond Fitzgerald, an Irish soldier; they had three children, a son and two daughters. In the 1960s, she taught at the Italia Conti Academy, a drama school and at Queen's Gate School for Girls. She also worked in a bookshop in Southwold, Suffolk. For a time she lived in Battersea on the Thames, on a houseboat that reportedly sank twice.


Penelope Fitzgerald Poems

Penelope Fitzgerald Quotes

It's very good for an idea to be commonplace. The important thing is that a new idea should develop out of what is already there so that it soon becomes an old acquaintance. Old acquaintances aren't by any means always welcome, but at least one can't be mistaken as to who or what they are.
Penelope Fitzgerald (b. 1916), British author. Fred Fairly, in The Gate of Angels, ch. 20 (1990). Lecturing to his students at Cambridge.
If they don't depend on true evidence, scientists are no better than gossips.
Penelope Fitzgerald (b. 1916), British author. Herbert Flowerdew to Fred Fairly, in The Gate of Angels, ch. 3 (1990).
However, no two people see the external world in exactly the same way. To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is—in other words, not a thing, but a think.
Penelope Fitzgerald (b. 1916), British author. Shippey, in The Gate of Angels, ch. 6 (1990).

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