Eleanor worked in consumer research for years; first in Dublin, then London, but after the birth of her first child, she decided not to return to work at once, and the new family returned to Dublin.
“In about 2006, I started writing features and opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines, and I got on a few radio shows.”
Wanting a bigger project, Eleanor returned to college, then started work on a book about Harriet Shelley. She gained the agent Andrew Lownie; but the book didn’t sell; editors loved it but considered it too niche, and that’s when she decided to write about the women in Oscar Wilde’s life.
“I knew there were some strong women like his mother, wife, and various actresses, but I had no idea how many amazing women I would find,” she says. “I did periods of intense research, and then broke off for a while to do some writing. After six months I had a contract and five chapters. I wrote the rest in 18 months.”
Meanwhile, Eleanor won the prestigious Keats Shelley essay prize for a chapter of her book on Harriet Shelley, and was runner up for a biography prize for the same work.
Who is Eleanor Fitzsimons.
Date of birth: 1966 in Cork.
Education: Our Lady’s School in Templeogue. University College Dublin: Bachelor of Commerce, and Master of Business Studies. MA Women, Gender and Society.
Family: Husband Derek Bain, sons Alex 14 and Ewan 11.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
Interests: Music. Travelling.
Favourite Writers: David Mitchell; Ian McEwen; Pat Barker; Kate Atkinson; Salley Vickers.
Second Book: A Want of Honour, Life of Harriet Shelley. (Looking for publisher.)
Top Writing Tip: Read your work aloud to get the cadence and the rhythm.
Web: www.EAFitzsimons.wordpress.com Twitter: @EleanorFitz
The Debut: Wilde’s Women. Duckworth Overlook: €27.16. Kindle: €13.97.
This wonderful book reframes the life of Oscar Wilde. Keeping him in the background of his story, it shows how much he valued and respected women.
“I tried to show his life through the perception of various women; something I have never read,” says Eleanor. “It was interesting to view his plays through their eyes and reactions.”
The Verdict: I adored this book. It’s a fascinating, readable account and is stunningly well written.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 24th October
© Sue Leonard. 2015