Elizabeth Lowry is the author of The Bellini Madonna. She contributes frequently to the London Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement, and has also written for Harpers Magazine and Granta.
Lowry has worked as an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and as the deputy headmistress of a girls school.
She lives in Oxfordshire.
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An Interview with Elizabeth Lowry
about The Bellini Madonna
The Bellini Madonna effectively blends historical fact and fiction with a compelling modern-day story. How did the idea for the novel come to you? What is your background in fine arts?
I don't have any formal fine arts training I'm afraid, just a love of pictures and an interest in different kinds of representation. I think a lot of writers are fascinated by and a little envious of the effects achievable by the visual arts. In a picture you get a total and apparently spontaneous impression, whereas the written word (in the European languages at least) takes the eye on this rather laborious journey from left to rightif only we had that painterly power to put it all across at once, to show rather than to tell!
I began to jot down ideas for The Bellini Madonna while I was in the last stages of a doctorate in English at Oxford. I was supposed to be doing a thesis on the development of the short story as a genre, but my heart wasn't in it. I longed for the long-distance seduction of the novel; more specifically, like most unhappy students of other people's fiction, I wanted to write my own. While avoiding my thesis I'd got into the ...
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