Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Zadie Smith's On Beauty. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
On Beauty: Introduction
On Beauty: Plot Summary
On Beauty: Detailed Summary & Analysis
On Beauty: Themes
On Beauty: Quotes
On Beauty: Characters
On Beauty: Symbols
On Beauty: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Zadie Smith
Historical Context of On Beauty
Other Books Related to On Beauty
- Full Title: On Beauty
- When Written: 2003–2005
- Where Written: Harvard University and London, England
- When Published: 2005
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Campus Novel
- Setting: Wellington College and North London
- Climax: Zora learns that Howard and Monty are each having affairs with students.
- Antagonist: Monty Kipps
- Point of View: Third Person Omniscient
Extra Credit for On Beauty
This Could’ve Been an Email. In Chapter 5 of On Beauty, an anonymous “feckless novelist on a visiting fellowship” sneaks out early from a boring meeting being led by the dean. Zadie Smith was herself a visiting novelist at Harvard, which bears several similarities to Wellington, including its location.
A Literary Family. The poem “On Beauty,” which the book attributes to the fictional poet Claire Malcolm, was actually written by Smith’s husband, Nick Laird. Smith’s brother, who performs under the name Doc Brown, helped write some of Carl’s poetry and even has a character named after him in the story.