Beryl Margaret Bainbridge (Beryl Margaret Bainbridge)

Beryl Margaret Bainbridge

Author. She produced 18 novels of the ‘dark comedic thriller’ and historic fiction genre. Raised in Liverpool under unpleasant familial circumstances that appeared frequently in her books, she was expelled from the Merchant Taylor’s School at 14 over the explicit sexual content of some poetry she had written. After finishing her education at a different school, she ran off to London where she worked as a theatre usherette. In 1958, she penned her first book, “Harriet Said…” which was deemed unpublishable at the time due to its twin themes of sexual acting out and murder by teenage girls, though it became a best seller when finally released in 1972. During the 1960s, Dame Beryl worked as an actress and wrote children’s stories for the BBC, with her first published novel, “A Weekend With Claude”, appearing in 1967, to be followed by “Another Part of the World” the next year. (Both were eventually rewritten during the 1980s). The success of “Harriet Said…” quickly led to that of “The Dressmaker” (1973) and “Injury Time” (1977). The 1975 “Sweet William”, dealing with a young girl’s unwise affair, made it to the silver screen in 1980, and 1989’s “An Awfully Big Adventure”, which saw a girl try to achieve success as an actress in Liverpool, likewise became a movie in 1995. Dame Beryl entered the world of historical fiction in 1977 when “Young Adolf” recounted a 1912 visit to Liverpool that Hitler may or may not have actually made. She was to intermittantly produce several similar works, including the 1996 Titanic themed “Every Man for Himself”, and at her death was working on “The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress” based upon Dame Beryl’s own experiences in Los Angeles at the time of Robert Kennedy’s 1968 assassination. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her honours were many, though she never won the coveted Booker Prize for which she was nominated a record five times. In 2001, she received the David Cohen British Literature Prize for lifetime achievement, and was created Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE). A heavy smoker, she suffered numerous tobacco related health problems in her final years, and died of cancer. At her death, controversy over her birth date remained; though that given above is her ‘official’ birthday, her birth was apparently recorded in early 1933. Looking at the motivation for her life’s work, she said: “My central pivot is the wrongs done to me by my parents and upbringing”. (bio by: Bob Hufford)


  • November, 21, 1934
  • England


  • July, 07, 2010
  • England


  • Highgate Cemetery (West)
  • England

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