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Irish novelist John Banville/aka Benjamin Black was born in Wexford in Ireland in 1945. He was educated at a Christian Brothers' school and St Peter's College in Wexford. He worked for Aer Lingus in Dublin, an opportunity that enabled him to travel widely. He was literary editor of the Irish Times between 1988 and 1999. Long Lankin, a collection of short stories, was published in 1970. It was followed by Nightspawn (1971) and Birchwood (1973), both novels.

Banville's fictional portrait of the 15th-century Polish astronomer Dr Copernicus (1976) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) and was the first in a series of books exploring the lives of eminent scientists and scientific ideas. The second novel in the series was about the 16th-century German astronomer Kepler (1981) and won the Guardian Fiction Prize. The Newton Letter: An Interlude (1982), is the story of an academic writing a book about the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. It was adapted as a film by Channel 4 Television. Mefisto (1986), explores the world of numbers in a reworking of Dr Faustus.

The Book of Evidence (1989), which won the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, Ghosts (1993) and Athena (1995) form a loose trilogy of novels narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a convicted murderer. The central character of Banville's 1997 novel, The Untouchable, Victor Maskell, is based on the art historian and spy Anthony Blunt. Eclipse (2000), is narrated by Alexander Cleave, an actor who has withdrawn to the house where he spent his childhood. Shroud (2002), continues the tale begun in Eclipse and Prague Pictures: Portrait of a City (2003), is a personal evocation of the magical European city.

John Banville lives in Dublin. His latest book The Sea (2005) won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. In The Sea an elderly art historian loses his wife to cancer and feels compelled to revisit the seaside villa where he spent childhood holidays.


Long Lankin   Secker & Warburg, 1970

Nightspawn   Secker & Warburg, 1971

Birchwood   Secker & Warburg, 1973

Dr Copernicus   Secker & Warburg, 1976

Kepler   Secker & Warburg, 1981

The Newton Letter: An Interlude   Secker & Warburg, 1982

Mefisto   Secker & Warburg, 1986

The Book of Evidence   Secker & Warburg, 1989

Ghosts   Secker & Warburg, 1993

Athena   Secker & Warburg, 1995

The Ark   Gallery Press, 1996

The Untouchable   Picador, 1997

Eclipse   Picador, 2000

Shroud   Picador, 2002

Prague Pictures: Portrait of a City   Bloomsbury, 2003

The Sea   Picador, 2005


Prizes and awards

1973   Allied Irish Banks' Prize   Birchwood

1973   Arts Council Macaulay Fellowship   Birchwood

1975   American Ireland Fund Literary Award   Dr Copernicus

1976   James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction)   (fiction award)   Dr Copernicus

1981   Guardian Fiction Prize   Kepler

1989   Booker Prize for Fiction   (shortlist)   The Book of Evidence

1989   Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award   The Book of Evidence

1997   Lannan Literary Award (Fiction)

2005   Man Booker Prize for Fiction   The Sea

2006   British Book Awards Author of the Year   (shortlist)   The Sea

2007   Man Booker International Prize   (shortlist)



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