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Gavin McCrea biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Gavin McCrea
Photo: Eugene Langan

Gavin McCrea

Gavin McCrea Biography

Gavin McCrea was born in Dublin in 1978 and has since travelled widely, living in Japan, Belgium and Italy, among other places. He holds a BA and an MA from University College Dublin, and an MA and a PhD from the University of East Anglia. He currently divides his time between the UK and Spain.

Gavin McCrea's website

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Interview

Gavin McCrea discusses Mrs. Engels, and how he created a book from the perspective of a woman who left no historic record.

How did you stumble across the life of Lizzie Burns?
What compelled you to write Mrs. Engels from the perspective of a working-class, illiterate Irishwoman who left no historical record?
I came across Lizzie Burns by chance. I saw her name in a newspaper review of Tristram Hunt's biography of Frederick Engels, and I was intrigued. I had no idea that Engels had had a relationship with an poor Irishwoman. I began to search for information about Lizzie, but I couldn't find much. Because she was illiterate and left no diaries or letters of her own, Lizzie remains a ghost in the record. Lizzie is mentioned in the Marx-Engels correspondence but has no real historical "weight" of her own. When I discovered that Engels had also had a relationship with her older sister, Mary, I knew I had to write the story.

I also knew that I would have to write it in first-person, from Lizzie's perspective. As a writer, I am interested in the creation of the illusion of "mind," and I wanted to give Lizzie a "mind" that appears larger, more forceful, more fully realized than those of the now-famous personages who surrounded her. I liked the idea of turning a slight historical figure into a massive fictional character.

You'...

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Books by this Author

Books by Gavin McCrea at BookBrowse
Mrs. Engels jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Gavin McCrea but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Jonathan Lethem

    Jonathan Lethem

    Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. He currently teaches creative writing at ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Mrs. Engels

    Try:
    Dissident Gardens
    by Jonathan Lethem

  • Paula McLain

    Paula McLain

    Paula McLain was born in Fresno, CA in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of foster homes for the next 14 years. Eventually, she... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Mrs. Engels

    Try:
    The Paris Wife
    by Paula McLain

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