Novelist, biographer and critic
- How unjust life is, to make physical charm so immediately apparent or absent, when one can get away with vices untold for ever.
- A Summer Bird-Cage (1963; New York: Popular Library, 1977) p. 28
- Sometimes it seems the only accomplishment my education ever bestowed on me, the ability to think in quotations.
- A Summer Bird-Cage (1963; New York: William Morrow, 1964) p. 49
- Perhaps the rare and simple pleasure of being seen for what one is compensates for the misery of being it.
- A Summer Bird-Cage (1963; New York: William Morrow, 1964) p. 120
- Lord knows what incommunicable small terrors infants go through, unknown to all. We disregard them, we say they forget, because they have not the words to make us remember.
- The Millstone (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1965) p. 148
- The human mind can bear plenty of reality but not too much unintermittent gloom.
- The Realms of Gold (1975; New York: Ivy Books, 1989) p. 140
- The middle years, caught between children and parents, free of neither: the past stretches back too densely, it is too thickly populated, the future has not yet thinned out.
- The Middle Ground (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980) p. 185
- Men and women can never be close. They can hardly speak to one another in the same language. But are compelled, forever, to try, and therefore even in defeat there is no peace.
- The Middle Ground (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980) p. 236
- Family life itself, that safest, most traditional, most approved of female choices, is not a sanctuary: It is, perpetually, a dangerous place.
- England's not a bad country. It's just a mean, cold, ugly, divided, tired, clapped-out, post-imperial, post-industrial slag-heap covered in polystyrene hamburger cartons.
- A Natural Curiosity (New York: Viking, 1989) p. 308
- I confidently predict the collapse of capitalism and the beginning of history. Something will go wrong in the machinery that converts money into money, the banking system will collapse totally, and we will be left having to barter to stay alive. Those who can dig in their garden will have a better chance than the rest. I'll be all right; I've got a few veg.