Saturday, 3 December 2011
I went to talk about "writing about one's mother" at a gathering organised by our friend the poet and novelist D.M.Thomas. In THE FIFTIES MYSTIQUE, which is coming out next spring. I've written about my family since the book's feminist arguments are based on my own experiences growing up in pre-women's lib days. It's obviously difficult to write candidly and truthfully on that subject, but I decided not even to try to discover or expose my parents' secrets. I don't even know if there were any to discover. I had two reasons for this restraint. One is that I wasn't an only child so any confidences wouldn't be my own to share. The second is that the purpose of describing my own memories of the forties and fifties was not purely autobiographical. It was to demonstrate how women's lives were transformed by the feminist movement. My audience this week clearly thought I'd wimped out. and I've certainly been very restrained in comparison with the authors I mentioned and quoted, who included Nigel Nicolson (about Vita Sackville West), Antonia White's two daughters Susan Chitty and Lyndall Paserini, Blake Morrison, Judy Golding about William and Ann Golding and Joanna Hodgkin, whose Amateurs in Eden, due out early next year, is about her mother Nancy, Lawrence Durrell's first wife. Actually, if I ever do write about more intimate memories, it will probably be in fictional form.