Rising Star: Diana Athill, author

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The Independent Culture

After 50 years in publishing and 15 as an author, Diana Athill's star is truly in the ascendant. With an OBE in the New Year's honours and now the Costa biography prize for the sixth in her series of memoirs, 2009 is shaping up to be her year.

Athill graduated from Oxford in 1939 and worked for the BBC through the Second World War. At Andre Deutsch, she worked with authors including John Updike, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul. Her fiction includes 'An Unavoidable Delay' (1962); the latest of her memoirs is 'Somewhere Towards the End'.

If it wins the overall Costa prize on 27 January Athill will be the oldest author, at 91, to do so. "If I don't win," she says, "I won't really mind not having the acclaim. It's not getting the money that I will mind. Because I'm always terribly broke, and how wonderful it would be to get that lovely cheque."

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