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Possession author dies aged 87

AS Byatt, the acclaimed author of novels including Possession and The Children’s Book, has died aged 87.

Born in Sheffield in 1936, she was best known as a critic, until the publication of the novel, The Virgin In The Garden in 1978. Set in 1953 it chronicles the lives of 3 members of a single family from the coronation to 1980. It was followed by Still Life (1985), Babel Tower (1995) and A whistling Woman (2002).

Her most famous work is Possession, which she wrote in 1990. It won the Booker Prize and was translated into more than 30 languages, becoming a bestseller in the UK and USA.  The part mystery, part romance was made into a 2002 film, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart. This was filmed in Whitby.

Her publisher, Penguin Random House said she was “one of the most significant writers and critics of our time.”

A spokesperson said she “died peacefully at home surrounded by close family. 

“A girl from Sheffield with a strong European sensibility, Antonia had a remarkable mind which produced a unique creative vision.”

Dame Antonia Susan Duffy, known professionally as AS Byatt, was the daughter of a judge and the sister of novelist Margaret Drabble, she grew up in Yorkshire – both Sheffield and York, before going to Oxford University and taught at University College, London, before becoming a full-time writer.

Her recent writings include The Children’s Book (2009) and Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (2011).

She was awarded the Erasmus Prize in 2016, for her “inspiring contribution to life writing”, the Pak Kyongni Prize in 2017 and a year later the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.

She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1999.

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