Readersforum's Blog

January 28, 2013

A S Byatt’s ‘bruising’ feud with Margaret Drabble is a ‘tragedy’, says Michael Holroyd

Margaret Drabble is the author of 'A Summer Bird Cage'

Margaret Drabble is the author of ‘A Summer Bird Cage’

Michael Holroyd, the biographer, says his wife Margaret Drabble’s ongoing feud with her sister A S Byatt is a ‘tragedy’.

By Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden

Margaret Drabble and A S Byatt are the contemporary literary world’s most prominent sisters. Their ongoing feud is, however, the cause of much sadness for Drabble’s husband, the distinguished biographer Sir Michael Holroyd.

“They had a very difficult upbringing with their mother,” he tells Mandrake. “They cannot help that. It is a fact. They’ve had two extraordinary careers and are not dependent on any shadow that their mother laid on both of them to achieve. She had her reasons; she was not at all well. It’s a sort of tragedy.”

Dame Margaret, 73, has been estranged from her elder sister, Dame Antonia Duffy, who writes as A S Byatt, since they were children. “There was too much competition,” Byatt has said of the cause; their upbringing made it that way.

Drabble’s novels include A Summer Bird Cage and The Witch of Exmoor, while Byatt, 76, won the Booker Prize with her 1990 book Possession.

In 2011, Drabble said of the dispute: “It’s irresoluble now. It’s sad, but beyond repair, and I don’t think about it much any more.”

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