LONDON — Booker-prize winning British novelist Antonia Susan Byatt, known most commonly as A.S. Byatt, has died aged 87, her publisher said in a statement on Friday.
Ms. Byatt, whose career spanned nearly 60 years, was best known for her 1990 novel Possession: A Romance. She was the sister of the novelist Margaret Drabble, and the siblings drew parallels with the Brontes, a comparison they tended to spurn.
Her publisher Chatto & Windus, part of Penguin Random House, described her as “one of the most significant writers and critics of our time.”
“She died peacefully at home surrounded by close family,” it said in a statement. “Antonia had a remarkable mind which produced a unique creative vision.”
A mother of three daughters, Ms. Byatt was struck by tragedy when her only son Charles was killed crossing the road in the week of his 11th birthday.
Ms. Byatt was born on Aug. 24, 1936, in the northern English city of Sheffield and was educated at a Quaker school in nearby York. She studied at Cambridge and Oxford before going on to teach English and American Literature in London from 1972.
Her first novel Shadow of a Sun was published in 1964, and told the story of a young girl growing up in the shadow of a dominant father.
More works followed, some of them frantically written in university vacations. Ms. Byatt eventually gave up teaching to write full time in 1983.
Seven years later came her breakthrough with Possession, which became a bestseller and won the coveted Booker Prize for Fiction the same year.
The tale, an academic treasure hunt which pits a wicked US biographer armed with a check book against a downtrodden English scholar, was seen by critics as a move away from the style of her earlier works to a more commercial approach.
Possession was made into a feature film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and her next book, Angels and Insects, also made it to the silver screen.
Ms. Byatt won a number of awards and titles including a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) and DBE (Dame of the British Empire).
She courted controversy in 2003 when she questioned adults reading the hugely successful Harry Potter books by JK Rowling.
“Ms. Rowling’s magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated … mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip,” she wrote. — Reuters