Portrait of the Author as a Historian: Penelope Fitzgerald

The Booker Prize-winning writer eschewed autobiographical novels for historical fiction in a bid to resolve the porous distinction between objective and subjective history, writes Alexander Lee.

Faulty facts: Fitzgerald in 1999

In 1875, Dante Gabriel Rossetti began a painting of Mnemosyne, the Greek personification of memory. It was an intriguing piece. Looking distractedly towards the viewer, Mnemosyne’s expression hovers between resignation and regret. In her right hand she holds a shining golden lamp, while in her left she grips the ‘winged chalice of the soul’ from which she has filled it. 

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