Graham Swift, British novelist and writer of short stories, was born in London on 4 May 1949 and attended Cambridge University, from which he received a B.A. in 1970 and an M. A. five years later. He attended York University from 1970-73. Until the success of Waterland, the novel that established his reputation, he taught English part-time at several London colleges (1974-83). Readers expecting clear relations between Waterland and its author might expect Swift to have drawn upon personal experiences. Swift, however, was born and raised in London and encountered the Fen country during his Cambridge years. According to a friend who met him during Swift's recent lecture tour in Canada, the novelist himself reports that he learned most of his information about the people and landscape he describes in books. What does such information suggest about the relation of authors's lives to their fiction, or at least about our assumptions about the connection between them? How does this differ from the relation of other authors to their work, say, Dickens or Joyce?
According to Les Stone, who wrote the sketch of him in Contemporary Authors, volume 122, from which most of this information derives, "With only four books [now 5], Swift has established himself as one of Britain's leading writers. He is considered a master storyteller and an inquisitive, ceaselessly analytical artist -- one whose works embrace both the dramatic and the enigmatic." Contemporary Authors also contains a brief list of biographical and critical sources, mostly in the form of newspaper reviews.