Margaret Drabble explores the history of the jigsaw alongside her own personal pursuit of what Boswell called the 'innocent soothing relief from melancholy' found in puzzles and board games. In The Pattern in the Carpet she describes the history of this uniquely British form of meditation, from its earliest incarnation as a dissected map, used as a teaching tool in the late eighteenth century, to the intricate word-play of Georges Perec and the world's hardest five-thousand piece jigsaw - a Jackson Pollock painting. Woven carefully through her account are the author's intimate memories of her Auntie Phyl - her childhood visits to the house in Long Bennington on the Great North Road, their first visit to London together, the books they read and, above all, the jigsaws that they completed.
The resulting book is an original and moving personal history about ageing and the authenticity of memory, about the importance of childhood play; and how we rearrange objects into new patterns to make sense of our past and ornament our present. It will delight and transport its readers.
Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and went to a Quaker boarding school in York, and then Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1980 she was awarded the CBE. She has written several highly acclaimed novels, most recently The Sea Lady (published by Fig Tree, 2006). She has also written biographies, screenplays and is the editor of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. She is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd and lives in London.