A.S. Byatt won the Booker Prize in 1990 with Possession and was shortlisted in 2009 with The Children’s Book. Writing, she said, ‘is simply the most important thing in my life’

Antonia Byatt published her first novel in 1964 and, apart from an interlude as an academic, wrote them – and short stories, essays and critical appreciations – for the next six decades. Although she was known for her high intellectualism, on winning the Booker Prize in 1990, she famously declared – with perhaps a hint of a josh – that she would spend the winnings on a swimming pool for her house in France.

Byatt said that writing is about ‘pleasure’ but it is a pleasure she took very seriously: ‘I, who I am, is the person that has the project of making a thing,’ she wrote. She died in November 2023. 

A.S. Byatt

Other nominated books

The Children's Book