Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Diana Athill might be my new idol. NYT has a fascinating profile of both her work (she was an editor for many years, before “retiring” at 75 and publishing three memoirs) and her personal life.

Her longtime lover, the playwright Barry Reckord, moved in with her and then, their relationship having evolved into something more like friendship, brought his young girlfriend in too, for six years in the 1970s. They all got along famously. “He was very against possessiveness, and so was I,” Ms. Athill explained.


Ms. Athill protests that she is not generous, but rather has what Graham Greene described as the “sliver of ice” that resides in the heart of writers, the thing that allows them to examine events with forensic analysis.

“I’m really very interested in what is happening, even when it involves oneself,” she said. “One’s watching all the time.”

First Joan Didion, and now Athill—by golly, I’m beginning to appreciate a whole plethora of female writers who didn’t kill themselves or wind up institutionalized. How we change with age …


Written by Elizabeth

October 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

Posted in Culture, Lit

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. What an incredibly fascinating story. Another testimonial about our never being too old or too late to pursue our dreams– and adding in her personal life’s intrigue makes her even more fascinating than the late-bloomer aspect. Thank you for making me aware of Diana Athill!


    October 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

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