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Ivy Compton-Burnett

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Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett D.B.E. (1884August 27, 1969) was an English novelist.

The daughter of a well-known doctor, Compton-Burnett grew up amongst numerous siblings in Hove and London. She never married, but from 1919 shared her Kensington flat with interior decorator and historian of furniture Margaret Jourdain until the latter's death in 1951. In the author biography of the old Penguin editions of her novels there was a paragraph written by Compton-Burnett herself:

I have had such an uneventful life that there is little information to give. I was educated with my brothers in the country as a child, and later went to Holloway College, and took a degree in Classics. I lived with my family when I was quite young but for most of my life have had my own flat in London. I see a good deal of a good many friends, not all of them writing people. And there is really no more to say.

Apart from Dolores (1911), a traditional novel she later rejected as something "one wrote as a girl", Compton-Burnett's fiction deals with domestic situations in large households which, to all intents and purposes, invariably seem Edwardian. The description of human weaknesses and foibles of all sorts pervades her work, and the family that emerges from each of her novels must be seen as dysfunctional in one way or another. Starting with Pastors and Masters (1925), Compton-Burnett developed a highly individualistic style. Her fiction relies heavily on dialogue and demands constant attention on the reader's part: There are instances in her work where important information is casually mentioned in a half sentence.

Complete bibliography

Most of her novels are out of print.

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