Elizabeth MacDonald

Posted by Sue Leonard on Monday 4th November 2019

Elizabeth’s first love was music. She studied piano from aged 6 at The College of Music, and she loved singing, but not performing.

“I couldn’t do it. I felt as if I was getting a heart attack.”

After studying in Milan, Elizabeth stayed in Italy, teaching English at the University of Bari.

“Italy had such a different culture and I felt so outside my comfort zone that I filtered my experiences through writing. Short stories started to emerge.”

After two years, in 1988, she moved to Pisa. She’s lived and taught there since.

“Pisa feels culturally easier.”

Along with teaching at Pisa University, Elizabeth has translated many works.

“I love translating Italian poetry; but I’ve also translated a number of English poets into Italian.”

She started writing her debut after graduating from an M Phil in 2002.


Who is Elizabeth MacDonald?

Date of birth: Dublin 1st June 1964.

Education:  Loreto, Rathfarnham; University College Dublin, Italian and Music. La Cattolica, Milan. Postgraduate in Italian. Trinity College Dublin, M Phil in Creative Writing. (2002.)

Home: Pisa. “But Dublin too. Dublin is in my heart.”

Family: Husband, Luca. Son David, 17.

The Day Job: Teaching English, Translation, or, currently, Political Science, at Pisa University.

In Another Life: “I’d be a journalist engaging with language.”

Favourite Writers: “My Favourite books are Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Iris Murdoch’s Nuns and Soldiers, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus. And I love the poet Mario Luzi.”

Second Novel: “I’m thinking of writing a contemporary novel.”

Top Tip: “My writing starts from a strong image that I put flesh on. I keep quotes that interest me, and keep a diary on what I’m feeling at certain points.”

Twitter: @Bizzieauthor.


The Debut: A Matter of Interpretation: Fairlight books: €14.59. Kindle: €8.97 

A young Scottish monk, Michael Scot is translating the works of Aristotle, but the Pope deems the translations heretical. When Scot refuses to stop his translation, a battle for power between the state and the church ensues – one that has shaped how we view the world today. 

            “I’ve tried to find parallels between the distant past and now – both feature a topsy turvy world.”

The Verdict: A powerful blending of fact and fiction in a narrative that is emotionally charged.


Published in The Irish Examiner on 12th October, 2019

© Sue j Leonard. 2019

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