On Beauty

On Beauty Study Guide

On Beauty was published in 2005. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that September, and won Zadie Smith the Orange Prize for Fiction (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) in 2006. The book follows a hysterical realistic style with a plot about feuds in academia and infidelity in marriages, while also exploring issues of race and privilege. Smith has said that On Beauty is an homage, or even an imitation of, E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End. The main university involved in the story is Wellington College, a fictional institution that is based loosely off of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Smith wrote part of the novel while she was a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Harvard from 2002-3.