Maureen Duffy (Maureen Patricia Duffy) Biography
(1933– ), (Maureen Patricia Duffy), That's How It Was, Gor Saga, The Microcosm
British novelist, poet, and playwright, born in Worthing, Sussex, educated at King's College, London. She worked as a schoolteacher and in adult education between 1951 and 1960, when she became a freelance writer. That's How It Was (1960), her substantially autobiographical first novel, was acclaimed for its portrayal of the relationship between an illegitimate child and her impoverished mother. Her reputation as an idiosyncratic prose stylist capable of bizarre amalgams of realism and fantasy is evident in the much-praised Gor Saga (1981), which is set in the future and deals with the consequences of an experiment in genetic engineering in which a scientist succeeds in producing a creature which is half-human, half-ape. Other novels include The Microcosm (1966) and The Paradox Players (1967), I Want to Go to Moscow (1973), Housespy (1978), Londoners (1983), and Illuminations (1991). A well-paced thriller, Occam's Razor (1993), the fourth of her novels to be set in London, was praised by Shena Mackay, who confirmed Duffy as ‘an imaginative poet of the city and someone who is committed to the cause of both human and animal rights’. Her poetry, written largely in carefully cadenced free verse with occasional ironic use of traditional rhyming forms, has in common with her prose its imaginative scope and disquieting emotional power; mythological, personal, and socio-political elements recur in her collections, among which are Lyrics for the Dog Hour (1968), Evesong (1975), Memorials for the Quick and the Dead (1979), and Collected Poems, 1949–1984 (1985). A trilogy of plays, Rites (1969), Solo (1970), and Old Tyme (1970), is based on classical mythology; her dramatic works also include A Nightingale in Bloomsbury (1974), in which Virginia Woolf considers her achievement prior to her suicide. Duffy's other publications include The Erotic World Of Faery (1972), a study of the supernatural in folklore and literature; The Passionate Shepherdess (1977), a biography of Aphra Behn, whose Five Plays (1990) she edited; Men And Beasts: An Animal Rights Handbook (1984); and a biography of Henry Purcell (1994) together with a play about the composer (1995). Duffy has played an active role in professional bodies such as the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and the British Copyright Council; she was one of the founder members, with Brigid Brophy, Lettice Cooper, and Francis King, of the Writers' Action Group, vigorously campaigning for Public Lending Rights from 1972 to 1982; she chaired the Author's Lending and Copyright Society; and was appointed Vice-President of the European Writers' Congress.
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