Sheffield’s latest star is born

Novelist Dame Margaret Drabble uncovering her 'Walk of Fame' outside the town hall Sheffield with the Leader of the Council Coun. Julie Dore and Lord Mayor Coun. John Cambell      See story Martin Slack  Picture Chris Lawton  30 th May 2012
Novelist Dame Margaret Drabble uncovering her 'Walk of Fame' outside the town hall Sheffield with the Leader of the Council Coun. Julie Dore and Lord Mayor Coun. John Cambell See story Martin Slack Picture Chris Lawton 30 th May 2012

INTERNATIONALLY-acclaimed author Dame Margaret Drabble shed tears of joy on learning that she was to be honoured by her home city.

The revelation came yesterday as she unveiled her bronze star in the ‘walk of fame’ outside Sheffield Town Hall – alongside other local legends including athlete Jessica Ennis, astronaut Helen Sharman and politician Seb Coe.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be with you and thank you for remembering and thinking of me as one of yours,” Dame Margaret told the crowds.

“I shall always think of myself as a Sheffield person.”

She added: “When I got the message about the star there were tears of joy in my eyes.

“It was one of those days when I was feeling tired, unloved and out of print and how wonderful with one message to feel yourself made into a star.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever write about Sheffield again but you never know, I’ll definitely be coming back.”

A novelist, biographer and critic, Dame Margaret was born in Sheffield in 1939 and lived here until the age of 15, attending the Girls’ High School.

She recalls happy memories of childhood in the city – her books feature a town called Northam which is based on Sheffield.

Initially an actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she gave that up on publication of her first novel, A Summer Birdcage, in 1963.

Since then she has been responsible for 17 novels and numerous non-fiction works, including the Oxford Companion to English Literature, earning herself a reputation as a literary heavyweight.

She is a former chairman of the National Book League, was awarded the CBE in 1980 and made a DBE in 2008. She also holds an honorary doctorate from Sheffield University.

Hundreds of nominations were received from members of the public for the latest addition to the walk of fame. The winner was chosen by an independent selection board.

Daughter of advocate and novelist John F Drabble and teacher Kathleen, she is the sister of novelist AS Byatt.

Dame Margaret has three children by her first husband, including TV gardener Joe Swift, and now lives in the south with her second husband, writer Sir Michael Holroyd.