Ms. Athas taught Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1968 until her retirement from teaching in 2009. She is probably best known for her 1971 novel, Entering Ephesus, set in Carrboro and Chapel Hill during the years of World War II, and was named one of the top ten novels of the year by Time Magazine. In the 1970s Athas took over a stylistics writing course, Glossolalia, which became famous for its annual student performances, both learned and amusing. Her many students include Alane Salierno Mason, executive editor at W.W. Norton, UNC author and professor Randall Kenan, novelists Michael Parker, Sarah Dessen, Lily King, Lydia Millet, screenwriter David Krinsky, and many more.
Athas’ other work includes the novels, The Weather of the Heart, The Fourth World and Cora which won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction in 1978. Her nonfiction includes Greece by Prejudice, a collection of essays, Chapel Hill in Plain Sight, and a book based on her stylistics class, Gramorama. In 2001, Athas resurrected and retooled the stylistics course and it continues to be taught in the English Department. In 2016 the Daphne Athas Fund was created to honor and support the legacy of her contributions.
Well into her late 80s Athas was a familiar sight in Carrboro biking across town.
Daphne Athas was 96 years old.