Diana Athill – Growing Old Disgracefully

June 29, 2010

Looking life and death straight in the eye.

This film had enormous appeal not least because it makes old age unthreatening, even inviting. Now in her late 90s, Diana Athill lives in an old people’s home which she chose to go to and likes because the people there ‘have led such interesting lives’.

After a long career as an editor – for writers as distinguished as Jean Rhys and Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer and VS Naipaul –she became a writer after the age at which most people retire. Her frank and entertaining memoirs reveal a string of love affairs, mainly with married, black and/or younger men – all the more intriguing given her privileged and apparently conventional childhood in a country mansion.

We film her revisiting both the mansion and her bracing Norfolk-coast boarding school, attending life drawing classes in London, looking back but also straight forward towards the inevitability of death.

“Beautifully and sensitively edited, one of the most clear-eyed, lively and non-infuriating Imagines in memory.”
The Guardian


  • Artecinema Naples 2012, Official Selection
  • Arts Film Festival Montreal 2011, Official Selection



Producer/Director Jill Nicholls
Film Editor Allen Charlton
Cinematography Colin Clarke