"A complete woman is probably not a very admirable creature. She is manipulative, uses other people to get her own way, and works within whatever system she is in.""A man of such obvious and exemplary charm must be a liar.""Accountability in friendship is the equivalent of love without strategy.""All good fortune is a gift of the gods, and you don't win the favor of the ancient gods by being good, but by being bold.""Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.""Good women always think it is their fault when someone else is being offensive. Bad women never take the blame for anything.""Great writers are the saints for the godless.""In real life, it is the hare who wins. Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market. Hares have no time to read. They are too busy winning the game.""In real life, of course, it is the hare that wins. Every time. Look around you.""It will be a pity if women in the more conventional mould are to be phased out, for there will never be anyone to go home to.""Life... is not simply a series of exciting new ventures. The future is not always a whole new ball game. There tends to be unfinished business. One trails all sorts of things around with one, things that simply won't be got rid of.""Like many rich men, he thought in anecdotes; like many simple women, she thought in terms of biography.""No blame should attach to telling the truth. But it does, it does.""Old men should have more care to end life well than to live long.""Real love is a pilgrimage. It happens when there is no strategy, but it is very rare because most people are strategists.""The essence of romantic love is that wonderful beginning, after which sadness and impossibility may become the rule.""The lessons taught in great books are misleading. The commerce in life is rarely so simple and never so just.""There are moments when you feel free, moments when you have energy, moments when you have hope, but you can't rely on any of these things to see you through. Circumstances do that.""Time misspent in youth is sometimes all the freedom one ever has.""What is interesting about self-analysis is that it leads nowhere - it is an art form in itself.""Writing novels preserves you in a state of innocence - a lot passes you by - simply because your attention is otherwise diverted.""You can never betray the people who are dead, so you go on being a public Jew; the dead can't answer slurs, but I'm here. I would love to think that Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, but he doesn't.""You have no idea how promising the world begins to look once you have decided to have it all for yourself. And how much healthier your decisions are once they become entirely selfish.""You never know what you will learn till you start writing. Then you discover truths you never knew existed."
Brookner's father, Newson Bruckner, was a Polish immigrant, and her mother, Maude Schiska, was a singer whose father had emigrated from Poland and founded a tobacco factory. Maude changed the family's surname to Brookner owing to anti-German sentiment in England. Anita Brookner had a lonely childhood, although her grandmother and uncle lived with the family, and her parents, secular Jews, opened their house to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution during the 1930s and World War II. Brookner, an only child, has never married and took care of her parents as they aged.
Brookner was educated at James Allen's Girls' School. She received a BA in History from King's College London in 1949, and a doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1953. In 1967 she became the first woman to hold the Slade professorship at Cambridge University. She was promoted to Reader at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1977, where she worked until her retirement in 1988. Brookner was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1990. She is a Fellow of King's College London and of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.
Brookner published her first novel, A Start In Life, in 1981 at the age of 53. Since then she has published a novel approximately every year. Her fourth book, Hotel du Lac, published in 1984, won the Booker Prize.
Brookner is highly regarded as a stylist. Her fiction, which has been heavily influenced by her own life experiences, explores themes of isolation, emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into English society. Her novels typically depict intellectual, middle-class women, who suffer isolation, emotional loss and disappointments in love. Many of Brookner's characters are the children of European immigrants who experience difficulties with fitting into English life; a number of characters appear to be of Jewish descent.