‘Diana Athill and ‘The Sprout’. A friendship.

The launch went well. Andre made an appearance and a great impression on me, too, with his wonderful Continental style and charm ( he was Hungarian).  He had fine, blue eyes and wore an immaculately-tailored suit. Again, he knew all our names and what we had written and was genuinely interested in us.

Certainly, the publishers had done us proud, by producing a fine hard-back book, with an introduction by Sir Herbert Read, and an elegant jacket design by Annette Green.  Perhaps the directors had hoped to net a future poet laureate from among us; ( not sure that they were successful in this; but it was a brave and imaginative punt!) but, as it was, we were added to  a very impressive poetry list which included volumes by Roy Fuller, Geoffrey Hill, David Gascoyne, Elizabeth Jennings, Norman Mailer, Stevie Smith, Peter Levi, Laurie Lee, David Wright and John Updike.

By the time the book was published, most of us were at university ( we were an elite and over-privileged group of young people, in those days), and our poems were immature juvenilia ,  but I certainly appreciated being published so young.

I wasn’t to be in touch with Diana again until 1971.

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