Kathryn Hughes

Diana Athill at Home

I first met Diana Athill in 1984 when the publishing firm she had co-founded with André Deutsch forty years previously was in gloomy straits. The glory days of the Fifties and Sixties when ‘André Deutsch’ had been synonymous with the best kind of literary fiction seemed more and more distant, as the firm struggled to operate in a market that was increasingly dominated by the economic bottom line. A recent half-hearted attempt to broaden the appeal of the list had resulted in some pretty workaday non-fiction titles appearing alongside the glittering likes of V S Naipaul, Jean Rhys and Molly Keane.

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