This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Bernice Rubens" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article's lead section may be too short to adequately summarize its key points. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. (April 2021)
Bernice Rubens
Born(1923-07-26)26 July 1923
Splott, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Died13 October 2004(2004-10-13) (aged 81)
OccupationNovelist
LanguageEnglish
CitizenshipBritish
EducationCardiff High School for Girls
Alma materCardiff University
GenreNovel
Notable awardsBooker Prize
SpouseRudi Nassbauer

Bernice Rubens (26 July 1923 – 13 October 2004)[1] was a Booker Prize-winning Welsh novelist.[2]She became the first woman to win the Booker Prize in 1970, for The Elected Member.

Personal history

Bernice Ruth Reuben was born in Splott, Cardiff on 26 July 1923, the third of four children of Eli Reuben and his wife Dorothy, née Cohen. [1] Her father was a Lithuanian Jew who, at the age of 16, left mainland Europe in 1900 in the hope of starting a new life in New York City. Due to being swindled by a ticket tout, he never reached America, his passage taking him no further than Cardiff.[2] He decided to stay in Wales, and there he met and married Dorothy Cohen, whose Polish family had also emigrated to Cardiff. Bernice was one of four children and came from a musical family, both her brothers, Harold and Cyril, becoming well-known classical musicians. Harold was forced to quit playing through illness, but Cyril became a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra.[2] Bernice failed to follow in her family's musical tradition, though she would later learn the cello. She was educated at Cardiff High School for Girls and later read English at the University of Wales, Cardiff, where she was awarded her BA in 1947.[3]

She married Rudi Nassbauer, a wine merchant who also wrote poetry and fiction.[2] They had two daughters, Rebecca and Sharon. From 1950 to 1955, Rubens taught at a grammar school in Birmingham, before moving onto the film industry where she made documentaries. In the 1960s the poet Jon Silkin rented the attic storey of their London house and sublet rooms to David Mercer, later a prolific West End and TV playwright, and Malcolm Ross-Macdonald, later an equally prolific writer of historical novels.

Professional career as a writer

Rubens' first novel, Set On Edge, was published in 1960. She became the first woman to win the Booker Prize in 1970, for The Elected Member.[4]

Adaptations

Her 1962 novel, Madame Sousatzka, was made into a film in 1988, with Shabana Azmi and Shirley MacLaine. This book was based on the experiences of her brother Harold Rubens, a child prodigy pianist, and his teacher Madame Maria Levinskaya, who inspired the character of Madame Sousatzka. Harold Rubens was born in Cardiff in 1918, and studied with Levinskaya from the age of seven.

Her 1975 novel, I Sent a Letter To My Love, was made into a film (Chère inconnue) in 1980 by Moshe Mizraki, starring Simone Signoret and Jean Rochefort.

Her 1985 novel, Mr Wakefield's Crusade, was adapted for television by the BBC in 1992, starring Peter Capaldi and Michael Maloney.

Works

References

  1. ^ a b Cunningham, Valentine (2008). "Rubens, Bernice (1923-2004)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94398. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d Watts, Janet (14 October 2004). "Bernice Rubens: Booker-winning novelist whose work focused on the more disturbing aspects of human behaviour". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  3. ^ Anderson, Hephzibah. "Bernice Rubens". Jwa.org. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  4. ^ James Kidd (24 January 2014). "A Brief History of The Man Booker Prize | South China Morning Post". Scmp.com. Retrieved 9 February 2014.