Piers Paul Read,
was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He is the son of Sir Herbert
Read, a poet, art critic and theorist of anarchism, and Margaret Ludwig
Read, a professional musician, who was a convert to Catholicism.
When Read was eight, his family moved to North Yorkshire, where he was
educated at Gilling Castle and Ampleforth College. His years at Ampleforth
would later provide much of the material for the first part of his third
novel Monk Dawson (1969). In 1959 he went to St John's College,
Cambridge, where he read history. He received his B.A. in 1961 and M.A. in
1962. In 1963-64, he spent a year in West Berlin on a Ford Foundation
Fellowship. There he made friends with two other beneficiaries of the Ford
Foundation, Tom Stoppard and Derek Marlowe, and worked on his first novel
Game in Heaven with Tussy Marx (1966). His stay in Berlin inspired
his second novel The Junkers (1968, which won the Geoffrey Faber
Memorial Prize) and confirmed the general sympathy towards the Germans
that he felt on account of his mother's part-German ancestry. On returning
to England, he took a job as sub-editor on The Times Literary Supplement
and shared a flat in Pimlico with Stoppard and Marlowe. In 1967-68, he
spent a year in New York - an experience he used in his fourth novel The
Professor's Daughter (1971).
Read's novels are strongly influenced by his Catholic faith. His stories
focus on the religious themes of sin and redemption. Read writes in a
fairly traditional, linear style and he often uses plot elements from
popular fiction, especially the thriller, like espionage, murder and
conspiracy theories. Most of his main characters are fairly unsympathetic
and some of them commit horrific deeds before they finally convert to God.
Almost all of Read's novels are set in Europe. Many of his books show a
great interest and sympathy especially for Germany - quite unusual in
British literature - and for Eastern European countries like Russia and
Poland. In The Knights of the Cross, he explicitly satirizes the
expectations and prejudices of the British readership towards the Germans.
Read is Vice-President of the Catholic Writers'
Guild of England and Wales. He is married to Emily Boothby (of the Boothby
baronets). They have two sons and two daughters. Read lives in London. In
2005, he correctly predicted the election of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope.
with Piers Paul Read by Ignatius Press>>
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