Rachel Billington worked in television in London and New York before taking up full-time writing in 1968. Her first novel All Things Nice was set in sixties New York. Her latest novel for adults, Maria and the Admiral is set in Chile in 1822. Her latest novel for children is Poppys Angel a sequel to Poppy’s Hero
RB was born in Oxford in 1942. Her parents were Frank and Elizabeth Pakenham, who later became the Earl and Countess of Longford., She had seven brothers and sisters, including the writers, Antonia Fraser (who was married to the late Harold Pinter) Thomas Pakenham and Judith Kazantzis. Elizabeth Longford was also the author of many biographies and histories and Frank Longford wrote books in the political, religious and social areas.
RB was educated at day school convents in London and Sussex and is a BA in English Literature from London University.
RB has also written and continues to write journalism for newspapers both in the UK and the US, including a three year stint as a columnist for The Sunday Telegraph.
RB has written plays for television (Don’t be Silly’ and ‘Life after Death’) and radio plays, as well as contributing to several film scripts.
RB was President of English PEN, the writers organisation from 1998-2001 and is now an Honorary Vice-president. During her time as President RB initiated PEN’s Readers & Writers Programme which sends books and writers to meet readers in schools, prisons and other institutions who lack resources.
RB is a Trustee of the Longford Trust which was set up in memory of her father, Lord Longford. The Trust organises a lecture each year on the subject of social or penal reform, gives a prize for those working in these areas and awards financial scholarships to ex-prisoners in university education.
In 1991 RB became a member of the editorial team of Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners. She now writes a monthly page.
R.B. is also a trustee of the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, and The Siobhan Dowd Trust which iwas set up to encourage reading among disadvantaged children. She is President of The West Country Writers Association.
On January 1, 2012 RB was awarded the OBE. The commendation read ‘Author, Honorary Vice-President of English PEN, for services to Literature’.
In 1967 RB married the film and theatre director, Kevin Billington. They have four children and five grandchildren, and live in London and in the oldest continuously inhabited house in Dorset.