The work of Ann Quin

The work of Ann Quin

This is just a brief guide - still very, very much under construction - to the work Ann Quin. Born in Brighton in 1936, Quin killed herself in 1973. She wrote two manuscripts before her first novel Berg was accepted for publication by John Calder in 1964. The success of Berg (filmed in 1989 by director Michael Austin as Killing Dad) allowed Quin the means to travel throughout Europe and the United States. Before she set off on her journey, however, she had virtually completed another novel Three, which was published in 1966. It was in Three that Quin developed the narrative techniques and tone she would later build upon in her novels Passages (1969) and Tripticks (1972), both of which are based on her travels in Europe and the United States. Quin was at work on a fifth novel, The Unmapped Country, at the time of her death in 1973. A fragment of this work was published in Beyond the Words (Hutchinson, 1975), a collection of experimental writing edited by Giles Gordon. 

Further reading: Ann Quin page at Dalkey Archive (where most of the information on this page is directly taken from) and the complete-review's Quin page. See also Christine Fox's essay Lyrics from the lacuna. Two pieces of substantive criticism exist: an in-depth overview of Quin’s work by Philip Stevick in Breaking the Sequence: Women’s Experimental Fiction, a collection of essays on women’s experimental writing edited by Ellen G. Friedman and Miriam Fuchs (Princeton University Press, 1989); and an essay by Judith Mackrell in Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 14, British Novelists Since 1960, pt. 2. (Gale, 1983). There is also a useful piece in Susan Strehle's Fiction in the Quantum Universe (The University of North Carolina Press).

-- Mark Thwaite (19/09/2004)

Readers Comments

  1. Nonia Williams Dodd says... Wednesday 03 February 2010

    I am currently studying for a PhD on Ann Quin at the UEA, in Norwich U.K. As Mark says, there is very little critical material on Quin, although there is an article titled Ann Quin in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 2003, by Brian Evenson and Joanna Howard which has a really useful biliography of works by and about her. I am setting up a website,, regarding my own research.

  2. Peter King says... Friday 26 February 2010

    I look forward very much to seeing your site once it is up and running. It would be so interesting to know more about Ann Quin and to see something of her unpublished / uncollected work. There is a very interesting interview with her in the Guardian, April 29 1972. I wish you well with your PhD.

  3. Peter King says... Wednesday 03 March 2010

    There is also a rather poignant (by virtue if its proximity to her suicide) piece by her in the Guardian dated August 8 1973, just weeks before her death, in which she speaks of her studies in preparation for university entry that following Autumn. Reading it you would not necessarily realise that she was already an accomplished novelist and that we would still be reading her books nearly 40 years on.

  4. Nonia Williams Dodd says... Sunday 14 March 2010

    Thank you for your comments, Peter King. I have read the John Hall interview, but not the piece by her in the Guardian. Have you studied her yourself? The fledgling version of my site can now be found at Do have a look if you are interested. I am about to go to Bloomington, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri, to look at a couple of the only archive collections of her papers and letters...

  5. Albert says... Saturday 27 March 2010

    Basing in your description, the writing of Ann Quin intrigues me more. Do you have some synopsis of her work?

  6. Carol Burns says... Sunday 30 May 2010

    I have hundreds of letters from Ann Quin and am planning to write a book with Nonia Williams Dodd on
    Ann's life-story. If you have anything you would like to share with us, please write to us by e-mail. Ann was
    my best friend. I went swimming with her in Brighton three days before she drowned herself. Her loss was

  7. Peter King says... Wednesday 02 June 2010

    Delighted to see that a book will be coming about AQ at some point - I do wish you both well with it and look forward very much to reading it in due course. Nonia, I have found your site and look forward to reading of your progress. I have not studied AQ but find both her life and writing engaging and would love to read more ....

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