Edna O'Brien, born in Taumgraney, County Clare, Ireland, is the author of numerous works of fiction, including Down by the River, House of Splendid Isolation, Time and Tide, and Lantern Slides (stories), which won the 1990 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. Her biography of James Joyce was published in 1999. The west of Ireland, where she spent her childhood, provides the setting for most of her novels and stories and informs many of her plots. In 1951, O'Brien married the Czech-Irish writer Ernest Gebler and moved to London, where her two sons, Carlos and Sasha, were born. After her 1963 divorce from Gebler, she remained in London, raising her sons and establishing her reputation as a writer.
Her first novel, The Country Girls, appeared in 1960, to controversy, burning, and banning. Her next six novels, from The Lonely Girl (1962) through Johnny I Hardly Knew YouMother Ireland, a tribute to her homeland, appeared in 1976. In 1986, the single-volume reissue of her first three novels–as The Country Girls–brought her international recognition. In 1994, she incorporated political issues into her fiction with House of Splendid Isolation. She publishedWild Decembers, her fourteenth novel, after receiving an honorary doctorate from Queens University, Belfast. In addition to the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, she is the recipient of the Kingsley Amis Award (1962) and the 1995 European Prize of Literature, in recognition of her life's work. O'Brien is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She continues to live in London, with frequent stays in the west of Ireland.