(British, 1933– )
Duffy draws on her childhood for That's How it Was (1962), the semi-autobiographical story of the intense relationship between a working-class mother and her grammarschool-educated daughter. Duffy has spent most of her adult life in London, where she is active on behalf of fellow writers, and has successfully campaigned for public lending rights. Her strong, well-plotted novels often combine fantasy with a shrewd look at society. Begin with the prophetic Gor Saga (1982), televised in 1988. Half-human and half-gorilla, Gor is born into a bleak, futuristic Britain of genetic experimentation and mass unemployment. The novel combines the touching story of an outsider with a strong science fiction plot and a concern for animal rights. Duffy is known as a literary historian, and her London novel The Microcosm (1966) not only describes underground lesbian life, but also draws on the work of the fascinating eighteenth-century writer and performer, Charlotte Charke.
Zoe Fairbairns, Marge Piercy JN