Anne Enright at Literaturhaus Köln, 18 November 2008
|Born||Anne Teresa Enright|
11 October 1962
|Genre||Novel, short story|
Female body shape
|Notable awards||Rooney Prize for Irish Literature |
Irish Novel of the Year
Anne Teresa Enright FRSL (born 11 October 1962) is an Irish writer of women's fiction. She has published half a dozen novels, many short stories and a non-fiction work called Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, about her time spent in Dublin's maternity hospitals. Her writing explores themes such as angels, family, love, childbirth, motherhood, the Catholic Church and the female body shape. She is married to Martin Murphy, who is director of the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire. He has given her two children, a son and daughter. Described in the past as a Purist (i.e. taking a traditional approach), Enright has recently tried to refashion herself as a feminist (describing her own approach as "sad, smouldering feminism")
Enright had a low profile in Ireland and the United Kingdom (although her books were favourably reviewed) before she somewhat accidentally and unexpectedly won the 2007 Booker Prize "lottery". It later emerged that Enright's victory had denied Ian McEwan a second Booker Prize; she had simply been the compromise decision reached due to disagreements between the deciders over the merits of McEwan's On Chesil Beach (whether it actually qualified as a novel or was a different category of book, the novella). The Booker incident advanced her profile considerably; the Royal Society of Literature elected her a Fellow in 2010 and, in 2017, The New Yorker published a couple of her short stories. Enright did a Creative Writing Course at the University of East Anglia in England.
Anne Enright was born in Dublin and was educated at St Louis High School, Rathmines. She won an international scholarship to Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied for an International Baccalaureate for two years. She then completed a BA in English and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. She began writing in earnest when her family[clarification needed] gave her an electric typewriter for her 21st birthday. She won a Chevening Scholarship to the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing Course, where she studied under Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury and completed an M.A.
Enright was a television producer and director for RTÉ in Dublin for six years and produced the RTÉ programme Nighthawks for four years. She then worked in children's programming for two years and wrote on weekends. Enright began writing full-time in 1993. Her full-time career as a writer came about when she left television due to a breakdown, later remarking: "I recommend it [...] having a breakdown early. If your life just falls apart early on, you can put it together again. It's the people who are always on the brink of crisis who don't hit bottom who are in trouble."
Critics often suggested Enright derived her early writing from that of Brian O'Nolan. 1991 brought the publication of The Portable Virgin, a collection of her short stories. Angela Carter (who, as Enright's former creative writing teacher, knew her well) called it "elegant, scrupulously poised, always intelligent and, not least, original."
1995 brought the publication of Enright's first novel. Titled The Wig My Father Wore, the book explores themes such as love, motherhood and the Catholic Church. The narrator of the novel is Grace, who lives in Dublin and works for a tacky game show. Her father wears a wig that cannot be spoken of in front of him. An angel called Stephen who committed suicide in 1934 and has come back to earth to guide lost souls moves into Grace's home and she falls in love with him.
2000 brought the publication of Enright's second novel. What Are You Like? about twin girls called Marie and Maria who are separated at birth and raised apart from each other in Dublin and London. It looks at tensions and ironies between family members. It was shortlisted in the novel category of the Whitbread Awards.
2002 brought the publication of her third novel. The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch is a fictionalised account of the life of Eliza Lynch, an Irish woman who was the consort of Paraguayan president Francisco Solano López and became Paraguay's most powerful woman in the 19th century.
Her book Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004) is a collection of candid and humorous essays about childbirth and motherhood. One review noted its similarities to a book by Rachel Cusk, though Cusk's book was judged to the more "forthright and startling" of the two.
2007 brought the publication of her fourth novel. The Gathering was selected for the Booker Prize shortlist. Enright's book somewhat accidentally and unexpectedly won. It later emerged that Enright's victory had denied Ian McEwan a second Booker Prize; she had simply been the compromise decision reached due to disagreements between the deciders over the merits of McEwan's On Chesil Beach (whether it actually qualified as a novel or was a different category of book, the novella).
Her writing has appeared in several magazines and newspapers, including The Dublin Review, The Irish Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Granta, The Paris Review and the London Review of Books. The 4 October 2007 issue of the London Review of Books published her notorious essay "Disliking the McCanns" about Kate and Gerry McCann, the British parents of three-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances while on holiday in Portugal in May 2007.
In 2011, the Irish Academic Press published a collection of essays about her writing, edited by Claire Bracken and Susan Cahill. Her work is discussed and illustrated in the video "Reading Ireland."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed Enright as appointed as the inaugural Laureate of Irish Fiction. During her time as Laureate for Irish Fiction, Enright promoted people's engagement with Irish literature through public lectures and creative writing classes.She later took up teaching at UCD's School of English, beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.
|Year||Title||Citation for first publication||Notes|
|2017||"Solstice"||Enright, Anne (13 March 2017). "Solstice". The New Yorker. 93 (4): 68–70.|
|2017||"The Hotel"||Enright, Anne (6 November 2017). "The Hotel". The New Yorker. 93 (35): 58–60.|
When I wrote about the female body 18 years ago, that body contained the body of someone who is now taller than me... I think neither of us wanted to spend a book bitching about the Dublin maternity hospitals on Holles Street or the Coombe, ... about the way medicine treats the human body, especially the bodies of women.
Sometimes you hear hints about judging later – as in how Anne Enright's The Gathering, winner of the 2007 Man Booker, was the outcome of a jury badly split over Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach...