Anita Brookner

This article was previously published in the special edition, ALUMNAE (December 2018).


1928 - 2016

BA 1949, PhD 1952


If the average person were to do only one of the things that Anita Brookner achieved, they would be considered a great success. In her early years Brookner could be found in Dulwich Picture Gallery, where she first fell in love with art while contemplating Poussin’s Triumph of David. During her time studying French and History at King’s College London, she would regularly skip a module (she later said she forgot the name of it) to attend public lectures at the National Gallery. After beginning studies at The Courtauld, her talent for art history was recognised by Professor Sir Anthony Blunt, who thought her MA thesis on Greuze worth upgrading to a PhD. She went on to write exhibition reviews for the Burlington Magazine and worked as a French and Italian translator. Her time spent researching Greuze in Paris, an opportunity afforded by a French government scholarship to study at the École du Louvre in 1950, was reportedly the best time of her life.

Photograph by Jerry Bauer, 2004


Brookner continued her academic career when she became lecturer at Reading University in 1959, before returning t