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Nicole Krauss

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

MA 1998

Nicole Krauss is an inspirational figure for using her experience at The Courtauld far beyond the traditional boundaries of Art History. Growing up on Long Island in a British-American family, Krauss started writing as a teenager, publishing her poetry from a young age. She enrolled at Stanford University in 1992, majoring in English and winning multiple awards and prizes for her poetry, as well as the Dean’s Award for academic achievement. In 1996, Krauss was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, allowing her to study for a MA at Oxford and then The Courtauld, where she studied seventeenth-century Dutch art, focusing on Rembrandt.

Photograph by Goni Riskin

Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, explored memory, personal history, and intimacy, and was published in 2002 to considerable critical acclaim. The History of Love, her second, follows the various stories of an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor and a young woman dealing with the death of her father, alongside the story of a lost manuscript also called The History of Love. Her interest in discussions surrounding Jewishness and the Holocaust developed from her upbringing and multiple tragic Holocaust losses on both sides of her family. This novel was adapted for film, which was released internationally in 2016.

Her third novel, Great House, was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2011, and her fourth and most recent novel, Forest Dark was published in 2017. It consists of two narratives and has been quoted as a “mediation on loss and transformation and an investigation of the mysteries of art and literature and family,” tracing back to her heritage and calling into question representation and self-definition.

Krauss’s novels have been translated into more than 35 languages and have led to Krauss being selected as one of the ‘20 under 40’ Writers to Watch by the New Yorker. She also won an award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in 2011 for Great House amongst a series of other important literary awards.

She is a passionate dancer, having taken Gaga classes in Tel Aviv and New York in order to "rediscover the role of pleasure in [her] work, of playfulness and its balance with effort." Despite focusing on her self-identity within her written work and her dance, she has often spoken of her wish to remain anonymous in her publications. Having such a creative and driven individual as a graduate from The Courtauld is an inspiration to others wishing to keep creativity and passion central to studies.

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