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Hilary Spurling, CBE, FRSL (born 25 December 1940) is a British writer, known for her work as a journalist and biographer.

Spurling was educated at Clifton High School, an independent school in Bristol in South West England, followed by Somerville College, Oxford.[1]

She won the Whitbread Prize for the second volume of her biography of Henri Matisse in January 2006. Burying The Bones: Pearl Buck in China was published in March 2010.

She is married to playwright John Spurling, and has three children (Amy, Nathaniel and Gilbert) and six grandchildren.


  • Ivy When Young: The Early Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1884-1919 (1974)
  • Mervyn Peake: Drawings (1974) editor
  • Invitation to the Dance, A Handbook to Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (1977)
  • Secrets of a Woman's Heart: The Later Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1920-1969 (1984)
  • Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking (1986)
  • Paul Scott: A Life (1990)
  • Paper Spirits. Collage Portraits by Vladimir Sulyagin (1992) introduction
  • Ivy: The Life of I. Compton-Burnett (1995; combines two volumes originally published separately in 1974 and 1984)
  • The Unknown Matisse: Volume 1 - A Life of Henri Matisse 1869-1908 (1998)
  • La Grande Thérèse: The Greatest Swindle of the Century (1999) on Thérèse Humbert
  • The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell (2002)
  • Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour 1909-1954 (2005)
  • Ann Stokes: Artists' Potter (contributor) (2009)
  • Matisse: The Life (abridged version of two earlier works) (2009)
  • Pearl Buck in China (also published as Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck) (2010)
  • Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time (2017)



  1. ^ Biography of Hilary Spurling from The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Dazzling tale of Ms Saigon takes top award". The Scotsman. August 20, 2011.

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