Rachel and Kevin Billington in 1968
|Born||Rachel Mary Pakenham
11 May 1942
Oxford, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Kevin Billington (m. 1967)|
|Parent(s)||Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford
Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford
Rachel Mary Billington OBE (née Pakenham, born 11 May 1942) is a British author, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Longford, who were both eminent writers, as was her aunt Christine Longford.
Billington worked in television in London and New York before taking up full-time writing in 1968. She has published twenty-one novels for adults, including the bestsellers A Woman's Age and Bodily Harm. Her most recent novel is Glory (2015), which describes the First World War Gallipoli campaign through the eyes of the participants and their wives and girlfriends at home. She has also written six children's novels, six religious books for children and three non-fiction books, including The Great Umbilical, about mothers and daughters.
She has written plays for BBC Television's Plays for Today series (Don't Be Silly and Life After Death), and several radio plays, and has contributed to film scripts including The Light at the Edge of the World and Interlude.
Billington has also written and continues to write journalism for newspapers in both the UK and the US, including a three-year stint as columnist for the Sunday Telegraph.
Billington was President of English PEN, the writers' organisation, from 1998 to 2001 and is now Honorary Vice-President. During her time as President Billington initiated PEN's Readers & Writers programme which sends books and writers to meet readers in schools, prisons and other institutions which lack resources.
She is a Trustee of the Longford Trust which was set up in memory of her father, Lord Longford. In 1991 she became a member of the editorial team of Inside Time, the not-for-profit national newspaper for prisoners. She now writes a monthly column. In addition she is a Trustee of the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, and of the Siobhan Dowd Trust, set up to encourage reading among disadvantaged children.
Billington is married to the film, theatre and television director Kevin Billington. They have four children and five grandchildren, and live in London and in the oldest continuously inhabited house in Dorset.