For Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting thirty-one remarkable women—one for each day in March. To kick things off, we’re proud to feature Josephine Hart today.
(Pictured: Josephine Hart in her garden in London in spring 2010.)
"Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive."
― Josephine Hart, Damage
Josephine Hart is the international bestselling author of six novels and two poetry anthologies. Her novels, which include Damage (1991), Sin (1992), and Oblivion (1995), are notable for their spare prose and themes of lust, betrayal, and obsessive love, and have been translated into twenty-seven languages.
Hart was born and raised in Mullingar, Ireland, and later moved to London to pursue careers in publishing, theater, and then writing. In the mid-1980s, she founded the Gallery Poets and West End Poetry Hour, an event that grew from her desire to make poetry a powerful force in people’s lives. While working as a director at Haymarket Publishing, Hart poured herself into Gallery Poets and ultimately went on to produce a number of West End plays, including Iris Murdoch’s “The Black Prince.”
Shortly after marrying Maurice Saatchi, an advertising executive and former Chairman of the Conservative Party of Great Britain, Hart began creating the characters for her first three books but resisted the urge to commit them to paper. It wasn’t until Murdoch and Saatchi encouraged her to write a book that she finally decided to do so. Her first novel, Damage, about a British politician’s affair with his son’s fiancée, was a critical and commercial triumph, selling more than one million copies worldwide. Damage was made into the Oscar-nominated film of the same name starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche.
Hart’s subsequent novels have also received wide acclaim and success, and in 2007 The Reconstructionist was filmed by Italian director Roberto Ando. Her latest novel, The Truth About Love, was published in 2009 by Knopf and was published in paperback in the U.S. in August 2010. She continued to support poetry, saying that it “gives voice to experience in a way no other literary art form can. It has never let me down.” The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour, a monthly poetry reading at London’s British Library, has attracted such readers as Bono, Bob Geldof, and Ralph Fiennes, among many others, since its inception in 2004, and the anthologies Catching Life by the Throat (2006) and Words that Burn (2008) are accompanied by CDs based on these readings.
Hart passed away on June 2, 2011, after a private battle with cancer.
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