AS Byatt, Booker Prize winner author of ‘Possession’, ‘Medusa’s Ankles’ dies at 87

AS Byatt was the winner of the Booker Prize in 1990. — X/@lithub
AS Byatt was the winner of the Booker Prize in 1990. — X/@lithub

Dame AS Byatt whose real name was Antonia Susan Byatt, a novelist, critic, poet and winner of the Booker Prize for her novel “Possession” in 1990 passed away at the age of 87 as per her publishers.

Penguin Random House released a statement expressing their “deep sadness” at her passing.

They described her as “one of the most significant writers and critics of our time”.

Nine years after receiving the CBE in 1990, the author was named a dame.

The Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award was given to her in 2018. Dame Antonia’s writings have been translated into 38 languages.

Penguin 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.”

In addition, Dame Antonia was well-known for authoring the Children’s Book in 2009, which made the Booker Prize shortlist.

Her most recent book was Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories (2021), a compilation of short stories.

“Antonia’s Quaker schooling encouraged a clear independence of thought, and throughout her career, she had an unerring ability to ask direct and searching questions,” Penguin said in their statement.

“Her novels showed a profound engagement with history and historical consciousness – and an understanding of the traditions in which she wrote – whether folktale or novel.

“And if her fiction offered an imaginative realm of ideas, it was also warm and engaging, and filled with unforgettable characters.”

Born in 1936, Dame Antonia was raised in York and Sheffield. She attended Oxford, Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, and Newnham College in Cambridge to study English.

In 1962, she started her teaching career at University College London. Two years later, she released her debut book, Shadows of a Sun.

One among the authors expressing condolences on social media was Tracy Chevalier, whose works include Girl With a Pearl Earring. She wrote, “RIP AS Byatt, your books have given us all such pleasure.”

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