A House of Air

Penelope Fitzgerald and Hermione Lee

Penelope Fitzgerald was a prolific letter writer. She avoided the phone if she could, never even contemplated the possibility of going online. Her warmth, humour and supreme storytelling abilities found their best forum here. Surprising, wonderfully funny, definitive, this is a major collection of Penelope Fitzgerald’s reviews, essays and autobiographical writings. This collection includes pieces on contemporary novelists Giles Foden, Anne Enright, Carol Shields, Rose Tremain, Roddy Doyle; on classic writers Muriel Spark, A.E. Housman, Rose Macaulay, M.R. James, Stevie Smith, Dorothy L. Sayers; on remembering her grandfather E.H. Shepard; on her love of Devon and Spain and William Morris: on writers in their old age; and witty and poignant recollections of her schooldays, her life on a Thames barge, her childhood in Hampstead and the ghost who lived next door but one. This is a fantastically funny book – as much of an entertainment as the Kingsley Amis letters.

Reviews of A House of Air

  • ‘Of all the novelists in English of the last quarter-century, Penelope Fitzgerald has the most unarguable claim on greatness.’ Philip Hensher

    ‘This generous selection of essays, reviews, introductions and other occasional writings proves yet again that stylistically, intellectually and morally Fitzgerald couldn’t put a foot wrong if she’d tried. Hers is an impeccable and unique voice not just from another century but another world.’ Michael Dibdin, Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph

    ‘Remarkable. It is the range of her scholarship that impresses.’ Doris Lessing, Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph

    ‘An intelligent writer, superbly and unfailingly so. Wise and funny, with a dry wit allied to a great emotional sympathy.’ Sunday Times