John Banville became a member of Aosdána in 1984, but resigned in 2001 to make way for other artists.
Born in Co. Wexford in 1945, he was educated at a Christian Brothers’ school and St Peter’s College in Wexford. For a time, he worked for Aer Lingus in Dublin, an opportunity that enabled him to travel widely. He then worked for a number of years as a journalist with the Irish Press newspaper, and, from 1988, as literary editor of the Irish Times.
Long Lankin, a collection of short stories, was published in 1970. Subsequent publications were novels Nightspawn (1971), Birchwood (1973), and Dr Copernicus (1976). Dr Copernicus was the first in a series of books exploring the lives of eminent scientists and scientific ideas. The second novel in the series, Kepler (1981), was about the 16th-century German astronomer Kepler, while the third, The Newton Letter: An Interlude, (1982), was the story of an academic writing a book about the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. Mefisto (1986) explored the world of numbers in a reworking of Dr Faustus. Other novels are The Book of Evidence (1989); Ghosts (1993) and Athena (1995), which form a loose trilogy of novels narrated by Freddie Montgomery, a convicted murderer; The Untouchable (1998) and Eclipse (2000). He has also published a play, The Broken Jug (1987), which was performed in the Abbey Theatre, Peacock stage in 1987.
Awards include the Allied Irish Bank Fiction Prize, the American-Irish Foundation Award (for Birchwood), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Dr Copernicus), the Guardian Fiction Prize (for Kepler), the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award (The Book of Evidence, also shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction), and the GPA Award (1989). The Newton Letter was filmed by Channel Four in Britain.