We received the sad news this week that the novelist AS Byatt has died. 

She was an author I felt very fondly towards, though her intellect and demeanour was rather forbidding. 

I read a number of her novels quite some years ago now, but it was 'Possession' which most resonated. I loved it for being so immersed in the world of literature, both in the present day and looking back to the Victorians (a favourite period of mine at the time for art and literature). 'Possession' was also a winner of the Booker Prize (next Sunday we'll find out which title has won the prize this year).

AS Byatt seemed to belong to another era. She had a stature which set her apart from the rest of us. She was incredibly accomplished and immensely well read, but she was surprising too. 

I think I heard her say in a radio programme that she read from three books each night, laying them across her pillow and reading a chapter from each in turn. I haven't been able to find any reference to this anywhere so I fear I may have imagined it, but it's a great image and fits with other interviews which are still on record.

In one article she said that before starting to write each day she liked to read three different books. She'd begin with something 'easy' as a bit of a warm up, then she'd move on to something a bit more challenging to get the engine running, she said, before turning to the final book which needed to be something interesting and stimulating so that she was desperate to start writing herself. (She'd start at about 12.30pm and finish at about 4pm.)

But I love it, too, that while her Desert Island book was Proust, she also regularly mentioned her love of Terry Pratchett novels and also Georgette Heyer. She turned to them for their superb storytelling and for the sense of comfort and escape she gained when reading them, she said.

AS Byatt - a surprising, interesting and inspiring person as well as a great writer. 

Thank you for reading.