A.S. Byatt in her recent BBC interview with Mark Lawson (BBC Four, 2:25am Thursday 17th December 2009) told us among other things the following:
1. Lawson was a student of Byatt’s during his undergraduate education.
2. Byatt tragically lost a son who was eleven years old when he died.
3. The surprise death at the end of Still Life is based on a real accident that Byatt had with a refrigerator
4. Her greatest novelist of English Literature is George Eliot.
5. She has a deep respect for the work of Iris Murdoch, with whom she shared an editor at Chatto & Windus, and feels that the film of her life and Kate Winslet’s attitude towards the novelist’s portrayal was a negative thing.
6. Margaret Drabble is her sister, and they don't read the books written by each other.
7. One of the premises behind the quartet of novels that began with The Virgin in the Garden was that of exploring the unpredictable nature of accidents in fiction, but when her real life was impacted upon by the death of her son, she wrote Possession as an interlude since she found it hard to return to the subject.
8. The popularity of the Booker winning novel Possession has been an ongoing (but pleasant) surprise for Byatt.
9. According to Byatt, she learnt how to plot her novels from early episodes of The Bill, she also used to watch Dallas. The only thing she tends to watch on television now is tennis.
10. She was on the Social Effects of Television Advisory Group set up to investigate the impact of television on people during the 1970s.
The interview is available here to view until 3:24am Thursday 24th December 2009.