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Sybille Bedford


UK flag (1911 - 2006)

The novelist Sybille Bedford's surname - very English, rather colourless - was deceptive. She underwent a brief marriage of convenience to an Englishman in 1935, but she was born in Charlottenberg, an area of Berlin, the daughter of a German nobleman and an Italian princess. The couple latterly lived apart, and on her father's death, the seven-year-old Sybille rejoined her mother in Rome, thence moving to London "for an education which did not take place".Mother-daughter relationships for Bedford, who has died aged 94, were deep and maddening - with flakes of farce and comedy - and they pervade her three autobiographical novels: A Favourite of the Gods (1963), A Compass Error (1968) and Jigsaw (1989). The idea that she was "educated privately" is also enigmatic. Actually, she learnt from her father, a connoisseur of wines, and from her cousins. From her sophisticated but erratic mother, she sensed the nature of life: marvellous plans, disappointments, the delights of self-discovery, dramatic non sequiturs, ambiguous goals and rewards. She relished friendship, literature, good talk and careful cooking.
 
Novels

 
Non fiction
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Awards
The Man Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1989) : Jigsaw


Sybille Bedford recommends

This Real Night (1984)
(Cousin Rosamund Trilogy, book 2)
Rebecca West
"Touches the very essence of life."

Secret Protocols (2006)
Peter Vansittart
"A novel that is grandly powerful, illumined by knowledge, insight, originality...Let us celebrate Peter Vansittart as a literary treasure."


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