Author biography

Sigrid Undset, Norwegian Nobel Prize-Winning Novelist

Sigrid Undset (Norwegian, May 20, 1882 – June 10, 1945) was the author of thirteen novels that have been translated into nearly all major languages. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for “her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages.”

Her medieval epics Kristin Lavransdatter and Olav Audunsson (also known as The Master of Hestviken) have been recently reprinted and freshly translated by scholar Tiina Nunnally. Read More→

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Olive Schreiner, Author of The Story of an African Farm

Olive Schreiner (March 24, 1855 – December 11, 1920) was a South African author and activist best known for her debut novel The Story of an African Farm, first published in 1883 under the pseudonym Ralph Iron. It later appeared in 1891, credited to the author’s real name.

The Story of an African Farm dealt with themes like feminism, family life, and Victorian culture. Olive drew from personal experience, having worked as a governess on several South African farms. The book became notable (and controversial) for rejecting traditional values and was an immediate bestseller.

She was also a prolific letter-writer, corresponding with many great minds like Emily Hobhouse. Olive remained involved in many political and social causes of the time, including the right to vote for South African women. Read More→

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Elsa Morante, author of Arturo’s Island

Before the advent of the mysterious, best-selling author Elena Ferrante there was the provocative Italian novelist and short story writer Elsa Morante (August 18, 1912 – November 25, 1985).

Morante portrayed life’s pain and perils, but her novels also detail the power of imagination that can transport us from cruel reality. Her four novels span the entire twentieth century and illuminate the lives and inner worlds of men, women, and children.

All of her novels detail the main character’s coming of age and their fear of leaving behind the safety of childhood for the potential dangers of adulthood, and the prospect of death. Morante acknowledged the dark, overarching theme of her novels: Read More→

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Ingrid Jonker, South African Poet and Anti-Apartheid Activist

Ingrid Jonker (September 19, 1933 – July 19, 1965) was a South African poet and founder of the emerging counterculture literary movement. The daughter of a Member of Parliament for the National Party, her views and work strongly opposed the apartheid government of the time.

Jonker has been compared to some of the most iconic modern female artists and poets, including Sylvia Plath. Her poetry, written in Afrikaans, has been more recently translated into English, as well as German, Dutch, French, PolishHindi, and other languages.

Jonker’s poem, “The child who was shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga” was recited by Nelson Mandela on May 24, 1994, signifying the past impact and end of the Apartheid-regime. Read More→

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Penelope Fitzgerald, author of The Blue Flower & The Bookshop

Penelope Fitzgerald (December 17, 1916 – April 28, 2000) was a novelist, essayist, and biographer  widely regarded as one of the greatest British writers of her generation.

She began her career later in life — her first successful novel (The Bookshop, 1978) was published when she was sixty-one — and went on to win the Booker Prize in 1979. It was also adapted into a 2017 feature film starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy.

Penelope Fitzgerald’s novels have been described as “strange and original masterpieces” by her biographer, Hermione Lee, and her final work, The Blue Flower, is widely regarded as one of the best historical novels ever written. Read More→

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