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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 12:23 GMT
Whitbread winner dies
Lorna Sage
Sage taught at University of East Anglia for 35 years
Lorna Sage, the writer, critic and academic whose memoir Bad Blood was recently named Whitbread Biography of the Year, has died.

Sage, who was 57, had been unwell with emphysema for some time.

Her editor Nicholas Pearson, who worked on Bad Blood which was begun in the early 90s, said: "I am devastated.

"My only consolation is that her book stands as an affirmation of her life."

Bad Blood is a tragic story of childhood disappointment in a family where warped behaviour is passed down the family from generation to generation, stopping finally with Sage herself.

Lorna Sage's memoir
Sage's memoir is described as "exquisite"
The book has been praised for both its elegant prose and sense of humour despite the bleak subject matter.

The Whitbread judges said it was like nothing they had ever read.

When Bad Blood was published Sage described her grandparent's "hellish marriage" and told the BBC that her grandmother was "very good at hating and very satisfied by it".

This legacy of hatred led to a particularly dysfunctional family and a fraught family life for the young Sage.

She was an academically gifted child but ended up getting pregnant at the age of 16, just before her exams.

Despite the general disapproval she managed to do extremely well and went to study at Durham University with Victor, the teenage father of her child who was by then her husband.

The Sages later divorced and she remarried in 1979, but she and her first husband remained lifelong friends.


I have heard from her students that she was an inspiration, and she was an inspiration to people at my company as well

Editor Nicholas Pearson
Judging from the book Sage seems to have taken the difficulties of her early life in her stride.

She told the BBC at the time of publication:: "One of the reasons for the title of the book was my sheer bloody-mindedness.

"I was not going to be told things were impossible because I had done this or that."

Her tenacity paid off, as Sage graduated with first class honours in English from Durham University and proceeded to do a masters on 17th Century poetry at Birmingham University.

Her literary criticism appeared in The New York Times and Literary Review.

Sage also wrote books about writers Dorris Lessing and Angela Carter, wrote a study of women novelists called Women In the House of Fiction and editied The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English.

She joined the University of East Anglia in 1968, becoming Professor of English literature in 1994.

Mr Pearson said: "I have heard from her students that she was an inspiration, and she was an inspiration to people at my company as well."

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See also:

12 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Tributes to 'brilliant' Sage
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Whitbread winners square up
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Whitbread winners profiled
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Whitbread 2000: The Reviews
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