Anita Brookner, a British author once labeled the “mistress of gloom” for her depiction of bleak and disappointed lives died on March 10, 2016 at the age of 87. The Times of London reported her death saying she had led “a life of solitude in the middle of London.”
Brookner was born in London, the only child of a Polish couple who had arrived with the name of Bruckner and changed the family's surname to Brookner because of anti-German sentiment during the first world war. They lived with her grandmother surrounded by uncles, aunts, and cousins.
As Brookner said in an interview with the Paris Review, “They were transplanted and fragile people, an unhappy brood, and I felt that I had to protect them. Indeed that is what they expected. As a result I became an adult too soon and paradoxically never grew up.”
She was educated at James Allen’s girls’ school in Dulwich, south-east London. In 1949 she received a BA in History from King's College London, and in 1953 a doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.
After a distinguished career as an art historian, she published her first novel "A Start in Life" in 1981, at the age of 53. She went on to publish a book almost every year for the next three decades. She won the Booker Prize in 1984 for her novel "Hotel du Lac" and her most recent work was the novella "At The Hairdresser's" published in 2011.
Brookner never married, but took care of her parents as they aged. She was often quoted as saying that she wrote “because I have no children.” Her publisher, Juliet Annan, told the BBC that Brookner “wrote about the biggest fears we have: loneliness and death.”