Lawrence Norfolk Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Lawrence Norfolk (NAWR-fehk) is a leading British historical novelist noted for his use of intricate detail to set historical backgrounds, the complexity of plots, and the wide array of characters included in his lengthy novels. He was born in London in 1963; however, he moved with his family to Iraq at the age of two. In 1967, in the wake of the Six Days War, the Norfolks were expelled from Iraq; they moved back to England. From 1967 to 1982, Lawrence attended school in Swansea and Bath. He went on to study English at King’s College, London. After graduating in 1986, he began a teaching career, while working toward a Ph. D. Lawrence also wrote a number of articles and reviews for magazines and journals such as The Times Literary Supplement. Looking back at these financially challenging early years, Norfolk pointed to writing as a way to supplement a meager income.

Approximately four years of historical archival research was devoted to gathering factual data for the writing of a 530-page novel, Lemprière’s Dictionary. Set in late eighteenth century England, the novel deals with the adventures of John Lemprière, attempting to write a major dictionary on Greco-Roman mythology, while at the same time unraveling a major conspiracy occurring at the founding of the East India Company which has kept his family from sharing in the fantastic wealth generated by the company in its takeover of India. For its power of language and detail. Norfolk’s first novel earned for him the Somerset Maugham Award (1992) for a first novel and a listing by Granta...

(The entire section is 648 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Avedon, Richard, and Bill Buford. “Best Young Novelists.” The New Yorker 74, no. 10 (April 27, 1998): 164-165. Presents background information and analysis of the works of six young writers, including Norfolk.

Keen, Suzanne. Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001. A study of characteristics of romantic fiction, incorporating historical archives, including analysis of Norfolk.

Lewis, Barry. “Lawrence Norfolk.” In Twenty-first Century British and Irish Novelists, edited by Michael R. Molino. Vol. 267 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Article on Norfolk concentrates heavily on his three novels published to date, as not much is known of the author’s personal life.