She is a D.B.E., novelist and critic and after a brief and inglorious career as an actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she published her first novel, A Summer Bird-Cage, in 1963. This was followed by eighteen others, including The Millstone (1965) The Pure Gold Baby (2013) and The Dark Flood Rises (2016). Her short stories, A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, were published in 2011. She edited the Oxford Companion to English Literature (1985) and wrote biographies of Arnold Bennett 1974) and Angus Wilson (1995). She is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd.
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