17th August 2000

 

SCHOLARLY LOVE STORY BECAME A BEST-SELLER

 

A S Byatt’s Possession: A Romance - both an intellectual mystery and a triumphant love story - became a surprise best-seller when it was first published in 1990.

 

An exhilarating novel of wit and romance, this tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets soon became a huge bookseller favourite and then went on to become one of the most popular books of the year.

A S Byatt's novel tells the story of Roland Michell and Maud Bailey, two rather unfulfilled young literary scholars who unexpectedly become figures of romance when they discover a surprising link between the two Victorian poets whom they have studied.

 

Byatt set much of her novel in a fictional Lincoln University, six years before the actual university was opened.

 

The author deftly plays with literary genres - romantic quest, campus satire, detective story, myth

and fairy tale - as Maud and Roland become deeply involved in the unfolding story of a secret relationship between the poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte.

 

The pair’s quest inevitably attracts the jealous attention of the competitive academic world, and all too soon the quest becomes a chase. Byatt's staggering technical ambition and her powerful romantic vision are tributes to the great Victorian age which the novel brings to life.

 

Possession: A Romance won both the Booker Prize and the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize in 1990. It is published by Vintage, an imprint of the Random Century Group.

 

A S Byatt was born in 1936 as Antonia Susan Drabble. One of England's foremost writers, she was educated at York and at Newnham College, Cambridge. She taught at the Central School of Art and Design and was senior lecturer in English and American Literature at University College, London, before returning to full-time writing in 1983. A distinguished critic as well as a novelist, she was appointed a CBE in 1990.

Her other fiction includes Babel Tower, Angels and Insects, and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye. Her critical works include Degrees of Freedom, a study of the novels of Iris Murdoch, and Passions of the Mind (selected essays).

 

For more information contact:

 

Jez Ashberry

Press and Media Relations Manager

University of Lincolnshire & Humberside

Tel: 01522 886042