Re Byatt

Ven vendersleighc at
Tue Mar 19 23:39:05 EST 2002

Daphne wrote

I also enjoy Margaret Drabble (Byatt's sister) 
although her books tend to have a bit of a
air about them, her characters are so posed. I 
always wonder what sort of relationship she and 
Byatt have/had  since their books are so often
sisters who have very uneasy relationships.

An uneasy relationship would appear to be the
case, although they rarely talk about each other.
A couple of years ago they got a host of cultural
celebs to talk about the socuial changes of the
last 50 years, in relation to their own lives.
The first section had people talking about
childhood and family life. Both sisters appeared
and never referred to one another once!

Here's something I got by googling on their
names. Shamefully I forgot to make a note of the
attribution. This piece doesn't say but they are,
in fact half sisters, Byatt is the daughter of
their father's first wife.

Towards her sister, Antonia Byatt, there has been
considerable and well-documented rivalry,
however. Drabble, the younger sister, was always
on her sister's heels, with the punitive ghost of
their mother behind them both. The sisters seemed
to have achieved some kind of reconciliation
recently - Byatt won the Booker Prize for
Possession and was made a dame, and Drabble
commented ruefully: 'Now she's way out ahead in
public opinion, and feels better, and I feel OK.'

There were (very grudging) statements of support.
Byatt said that 'at the last ditch' they would
help each other, although maybe, she qualified,
not at the first ditch. 

That will change with her novel to be published
in January, The Peppered Moth, which is based on
the tormented and tormenting life of her mother,
the most 'enraged housewife' ever. The novel
relies on family documents, local newspapers,
even her mother's old school reports. Perhaps
Drabble really has trodden on her sister's toes
this time, for she is plundering a
commonly-shared history, making their story hers.

She wants, she says, to 'exorcise all the old
ghosts which have festered inside'. Byatt says of
the novel that it will be 'one-sided. I would
rather people didn't read someone else's version
of my mother'. Drabble responded with: 'It's got
nothing to do with her.' 

Now that's what I call a family feud.


NB I am resending this as Yahoo tell me it wasn't
delivered, apologies if that is untrue


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