Life Class

The Selected Memoirs Of Diana Athill

Diana Athill

Published: 7 October 2010
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 784 pages
ISBN: 9781847081469


Diana Athill, born in 1917, made her reputation as a writer with the candour of her memoirs; through her commitment, in her words, 'to understand, to be aware, to touch the truth'. In a celebration of her life and writing, Life Class brings together four of her best-loved memoirs in one volume, spanning her very English childhood, her life and loves during the Second World War, her publishing career at André Deutsch, and her reflections on old age. Introduced by Ian Jack, Diana Athill's selected memoirs are a remarkable testament to an unusual and fully lived life.

About the author

Image of Diana Athill

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She helped André Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name and worked as an editor for Deutsch for four decades. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her acclaimed memoir Stet, which is also published by Granta Books, as are several further volumes of memoirs, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe, Somewhere Towards the End, and Alive, Alive Oh!, the travelogue A Florence Diary, a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That, and a collection of letters, Instead of a Book. In January 2009, she won the Costa Biography Award for Somewhere Towards the End, and was presented with an OBE. She lives in London. More about the author


‘A collection of the very best of Athill's stories, written with unflinching honesty’ Saturday Review



‘A deeply honest account of her professional and personal affairs’ Editor’s choice review

‘A memorable masterclass in how to live ... It's Athill's honesty that runs like a bright thread through all four of these memoirs, drawing the reader in like a close friend ... these entertaining and evocative memoirs , at the very least, provide us with the invaluable reassurance that we are not travelling alone’ Emma Hagestadt

‘A welcome alternative to the glut of celebrity memoirs currently choking the bestseller lists, Diana Athill's account of an unconventional life that began in 1917 is a superlative example of the form ... Bearing witness to a personal world with rare honesty and clarity, Athill is never less than terrific company’ Claire Allfree

‘A whopping treat’

‘Athill has always had a peculiar and attractive talent for communicating her pleasure in life’

‘Athill is particularly good when stoically recounting how she endured a particular spell of awfulness, whether it is the fall-out from a love affair or working with the magnificently self-centred VS Naipaul’ Colin Waters

‘Athill tells her own story lightly and delightfully’

‘Diana Athill is one of our most captivating and truth-seeking memoir writers, and this hefty four-books-in-one collection spans most of her 92 years’

‘Four remarkable autobiographies ... Athill is a born writer: what a loss to us all it would have been had she never been able to make the most of her talents’ Lesley McDowell

‘It's fascinating, sharply intelligent and exquisitely written’

‘Life Class brings together four memoirs in one volume by the grande dame of publishing, spanning her very English childhood, her life and loves during the Second world War, her publishing career at Andre Deutsch, and her reflections on old age’

‘This collection of her four best-known memoirs proves exactly why she is such a treasure ... The events of her life were not necessarily extraordinary, but Athill's beautiful, penetratingly frank prose is. Each book is a masterpiece’ Benjamin Evans

‘Why is Athill such a compelling writer? It is, I think, because she always seems to be on a quest, and the quest is for the truth ... unputdownable ... Life Class is a good name for this bumper collection of four of her memoirs, because as you read it, you feel you are being taught not only how to live but, as importantly, how to die ... a hopeful letter from the front line of life’

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