Margaret Drabble

Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd, was born at Sheffield in 1939. She is, of course, better known as the novelist, Margaret Drabble, author of twenty novels and several biographies. The daughter of novelist John F. Drabble and teacher Kathleen Marie, she is also the sister of novelist A.S. Byatt.

She was educated at Mount School, a Quaker boarding school in York, and read English at Newnham College, Cambridge. Drabble started out as an actress working at the Royal Shakespeare Company and was understudy to both Vanessa Redgrave and Judi Dench.

Her first novel, A Summer Birdcage, the story of a relationship between two sisters, was published in 1963.

She married, firstly, the actor Clive Swift, better known as hen-pecked Richard in Keeping Up Appearances, and had three children, including Joe Swift, the TV gardener. Her second marriage is with the writer Sir Michael Holroyd with whom she lives in Somerset and London.

“When I go back to Sheffield, I feel very close to it – although the whole family has moved away, there’s something about the people, about the manners that I recognise.”