A.S. Byatt (1936) has become known world-wide for her award-winning novel Possession (1990). This thrilling story of romance and literary detection, spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has prompted a widespread reappraisal of Byatt's entire oeuvre throughout Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, where she is often read in translation. Richard Todd's assessment of Byatt's literary identity treats the entire range of her writing from her earliest novels and essays to the present. Topics covered include Byatt's conviction that all her writing forms part of one activity along with her astonishing range of reading; her fictional treatment of families and biographers; her belief that her characters must be portrayed as thinking being profoundly affected by joy and loss; her interest in writing about painting; and her articulately-held belief on matters such as religion and philosophy, metaphor and fairy tale.
Richard Todd is Reader in English Literature at the free University, Amsterdam. He has taught extensively in Western Europe and the United States and has lectured and published widely on the early modern period, 19th- and 20th-century literature in particular. His books include: Iris Murdoch (1984) and The Opacity of Signs: Acts of Interpretation in George Herbert's `The Temple' (1988). His latest book Consuming Fictions (1996) is a major study of current fiction and the 1980s prize culture in Britain.