Birthday: November 5, 1926
Age: 94 Years, 94 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: John Peter Berger
Born in: London Borough of Hackney
Famous as: Novelist
father: S.J.D. Berger
mother: Miriam Branson
siblings: Jacob Berger, Katya, Yves
children: Jacob, Katya, Yves
City: London, England
education: St Edward's School, Oxford, Chelsea College of Art and Design
2009 - Golden PEN Award
2011 - Groeneveld Foundation Award
Who is John Berger?
John Peter Berger is an English painter, art critic, essayist, prose writer and a fiction writer. His fictional work on the alienation of the English urban life, sociological writings on the migrant workers who left behind isolated rural communities after they turned to the contemporary economic lifestyle and fictional work on European farmers who are now displaced economically and politically has made him into an intellectually stimulating writer as well as a politically controversial one. He started his artistic life by taking up painting, and his work started to be displayed all over London by 1940s. He then moved on to become an art teacher for a while, which gave him enough time and inspiration to become an art critic and he published many of his critical essays around the same time. But it was finally in the late 50s that he established himself as a fictional writer with his first novel ‘A Painter of Our Time’—piece of work that did not go down very well with the political establishments and yet raised the curiosity in the literary world. But Berger went on to write all the more controversial and debatable novels and won Booker Prize award for one of his greatest works, ‘G’. One of Berger’s famous novel ‘Ways of Seeing’ has been adapted as a television series by BBC. Berger is also a script writer and has written many critically acclaimed movies.
Childhood & Early Life
John Berger was born in Hackney, London, to S.J.D. Berger who was an infantry officer on the western front at the time of World War I. Berger also served in Army in from 1944 for two years.
After serving in army for two years, Berger went to the Chelsea School of Art and the Central School of Art in London.
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In the late 1940s, Berger established himself as a painter and his work started to exhibit in various galleries in London. Painting is one of his great passions and he never left painting for the rest of his life.
Berger took up teaching art in 1948 and continued it until 1955 and in the course of it he also tried his hand at the art criticism. He published many of his critical essays and reviews in the New Statesman.
With his painting abilities, critique acumen and strong opinionated political stances, time was ripe for Berger to publish his work as a writer. In 1958, his first novel ‘A Painter of Our Time’ got published.
1962-1964 was the time when Berger came up with more of his fictional work - even though his first novel was still into controversy. ‘The Foot of Clive’ and ‘Corker’s Freedom’ were his next books based on alienation of urban English life.
‘Ways of Seeing’ came out in 1972 and the same year hen BBC adapted it into a four part television series. ‘Ways of Seeing’ made Berger a big name and his criticism of western cultural aesthetics was critically appreciated.
In 1972, Berger’s another book ‘G.’ got published, which was a romantic satirical fiction, set in Europe in the nineteenth century. It earned him the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Booker Prize in the same year.
Mostly throughout 70s, Berger collaborated with the Swiss director Alain Tanner and co-wrote many scripts for movies like, ‘La Salamandre (1971), ‘The Middle of the World (1974)’, and ‘Jonah who will be 25 in the year 2000 (1976)’.
Berger’s major fictional work during the 1980s had been a trilogy called ‘Into Their Labour’, consisting—‘Pig Earth’, ‘Once in Europa’ and ‘Lilac and Flag’. Also, ‘About Looking’ published during the same time became a part of ‘Penguin Great Ideas’.
His work from the 21st century includes, ‘The Shape of a Pocket (2001)’, ‘I Send You This Cadmium Red (2001)’, ‘My Beautiful (2004)’, ‘Berger on Drawing (2005)’, ‘Hold Everything Dear (2007)’, ‘Meanwhile (2008)’, ‘Lying Down to Sleep (2010)’, etc.
One of his most recent fiction novels, ‘From A to X’, published in 2008, was nominated for 2008 Booker Prize. He and Salman Rushdie were the only former winners to be awarded the nomination in that year.
Berger’s most recent works are: ‘Bento’s Sketchbook (2011)’, ‘Le louche et autres poemes (2012)’, ‘Catract (2012)’—a book subtitled as “Some notes after having a cataract removed”, ‘Understanding a Photograph (2013)’, etc.
‘Ways of Seeing’ is considered as one of Berger’s most important works. The series and book looks into the depth of traditional Western cultural aesthetics.
‘G.’, a fictional novel set in Europe, based on the life of a Casanova who eventually gains the political perception, is considered as one of his finest works. The book fetched him the Booker Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Personal Life & Legacy
Berger’s first marriage was childless. He has two children from previous relationships and, and has a son, Yves, with his present wife Beverly Bancroft. His other children are: Jacob - is a famous film director and Katya — a writer and a film critic.
In 1962, this famous English novelist, poet and painter went in self imposed exile in France as he was frustrated with coldness of England’s urban life.