Readerz.Net / Anita Brookner
Anita Brookner (16 July 1928 – 10 March 2016) was an English award-winning novelist and art historian. She was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge from 1967 to 1968 and was the first woman to hold this visiting professorship. She was awarded the 1984 Man Booker Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac.
Life and death
Brookner was born in Herne Hill, a suburb of London. She was the only child of Newson Bruckner, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, and Maude Schiska, a singer whose father had emigrated from Poland and founded a tobacco factory. Maude changed the family's surname to Brookner because of anti-German sentiment in Britain. 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. “I have said that I am one of the loneliest women in London” she said in her Paris Review interview
She was educated at the private James Allen's Girls' School. In 1949 she received a BA in History from King's College London, and in 1953 a doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.
Brookner never married, but took care of her parents as they aged. She died on 10 March 2016, at the age of 87.
In 1967, she became the first woman to hold the Slade Professorship of Fine Art at Cambridge University. She was promoted to Reader at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1977, where she worked until her retirement in 1988. Among her students at the Courtauld was noted art historian Olivier Berggruen, whose graduate work she advised. She was a Fellow of King's College London and of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.
Already a published author of nonfiction, Brookner published her first novel, A Start In Life (1981), at the age of 53. Thereafter, she published roughly a novel a year. Brookner was highly regarded as a stylist. Her novels explore themes of emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into society, and typically depict intellectual, middle-class women, who suffer isolation and disappointments in love. Many of Brookner's characters are the children of European immigrants to Britain; a number appear to be of Jewish descent. Hotel du Lac (1984), her fourth novel, was awarded the Booker Prize.