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My secret life?

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Jean Rhys
Diana Athill Writer
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I wasn't the only person who looked after her. There was a sort of team. Sonia Orwell did a tremendous amount, Francis Wyndham did a lot. Di Melly, George Melly's wife, had her to stay in her house for a whole winter. My God, that was a testing thing. Di was a saint. And Jean was terrible, because Jean was drinking a lot at that stage, and she really was a pain. But you see, even Di, when we meet, we look at each other, and say 'Oh, she was really wonderful, wasn't she?' And I know what Di went through, but she still was very fond of her because she was very charming in many ways. And, of course, very interesting.

Born in 1917, Diana Athill is a British literary editor whose publishing career began when she helped André Deutsch establish his company. She has worked with many notable writers, namely Philip Roth, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul. Following the publication of her memoirs, she is now hailed as an author in her own right.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Jean Rhys, Olive Senior, Francis Wyndham, Diane Melly

Duration: 43 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008