Collected StoriesThe complete short stories—including six previously uncollected works and one novella—of award-winning British literary giant Beryl Bainbridge.
From one of the United Kingdom’s most famed female novelists come nineteen different takes on the often cruel, usually comic, and utterly strange realities of human life and imagination. From the collection Mum and Mr Armitage is the eponymous tale in which two pranksters at a holiday resort play “harmless” jokes on the people and livestock that surround them—until they must pay the price for taking the fun too far.
In “The Longstop,” unspoken familial information collides with a game of cricket, and in “People for Lunch,” two lovers are ironically compelled to ruminate on the dilemmas of adultery. And among the previously uncollected work compiled here are “The Man from Wavertree” and “Poles Apart.” The former is a quick look into the eccentric world of Rose and her tenant, Purdy, who is trying to sell his motorbike. The latter tells the story of a popular woman in her late seventies who tells a lie in an attempt to get out of a Christmas party invitation, only to find out her fib has come true.
Collected Stories concludes with “Filthy Lucre,” a Victorian melodrama that author Beryl Bainbridge wrote when she was only thirteen. In this precocious tale, a dying man asks a friend to take revenge on the family he thinks has cheated him out of his inheritance. What follows is a surprisingly mature and thoroughly sensational tale of murder, deception, love, and treasure islands.
Called a “consummate storyteller” by the Sunday Times, Bainbridge was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times in her career, and is perhaps best known for her psychological novels The Bottle Factory Outing and Injury Time. However, her short fiction, hailed by the Times as “impressive,” is equally masterful.
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“Impressive . . . Seediness, eccentricity and magic rub shoulders as Bainbridge shines her torch on English suburbia. . . . Very barbed.” —The Times (London)
“Each of these wonderfully spare and original stories, by the prolific, talented author of Watson’s Apology is a masterpiece.” —Library Journal
“Faultlessly crafted and indisputably original tales.” —Publishers Weekly
Praise for Beryl Bainbridge
“A fine and invigorating writer.” —The Times Literary Supplement
About the author
Dame Beryl Bainbridge (1932–2010) is acknowledged as one of the greatest British novelists of her time. She was the author of two travel books, five plays, and seventeen novels, five of which were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, including Master Georgie, which went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the WHSmith Literary Award. She was also awarded the Whitbread Literary Award twice, for Injury Time and Every Man for Himself. In 2011, a special Man Booker “Best of Beryl” Prize was awarded in her honor, voted for by members of the public.
Born in Liverpool and raised in nearby Formby, Bainbridge spent her early years working as an actress, leaving the theater to have her first child. Her first novel, Harriet Said . . ., was written around this time, although it was rejected by several publishers who found it “indecent.” Her first published works were Another Part of the Wood and An Awfully Big Adventure, and many of her early novels retell her Liverpudlian childhood. A number of her books have been adapted for the screen, most notably An Awfully Big Adventure, which is set in provincial theater and was made into a film by Mike Newell, starring Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. She later turned to more historical themes, such as the Scott Expedition in The Birthday Boys, a retelling of the Titanic story in Every Man for Himself, and Master Georgie, which follows Liverpudlians during the Crimean War. Her no-word-wasted style and tight plotting have won her critical acclaim and a committed following. Bainbridge regularly contributed articles and reviews to the Guardian, Observer, and Spectator, among others, and she was the Oldie’s longstanding theater critic. In 2008, she appeared at number twenty-six in a list of the fifty most important novelists since 1945 compiled by the Times (London). At the time of her death, Bainbridge was working on a new novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, which was published posthumously.