Monday, November 18, 2013


I read in the newspaper this weekend the story of somebody called Freda Kelly who had been secretary to the Beatles for many years and has only just now been persuaded to write about her time with them, something she had so far refused to do.  She sounds a lovely, balanced person and I was very struck by some of the things she said, such as:

“I never wanted to write a book.  I always thought they would want the juice, the argument bit, and I don’t believe in that.”  And, after being persuaded to tell her story by her daughter, “I wanted to make a little film for my grandson … to know what his granny did in her youth.  He’s three.  I want him to be proud.”  And finally:  “I’m not obsessed with money – I only need enough to live on.”

It’s such a relief to come across somebody so different from all those famous people nowadays who think it’s alright to write (or have ghost-written) an autobiography before there is anything in their life, apart from their fame, to be written about.  In my day (such a horrid, but true expression), I thought autobiographies were only written towards the end of a life as a way of the author assessing what has happened to him or her, not as a way simply of making a lot of money.  And I notice that some famous people now write more than one autobiography, as though they view their life from a different enough perspective to make another book worthwhile.  Surely we need some distance from the events in our life before we are ready to assess this in any meaningful way?

I have often considered whether I would ever like to write my own autobiography, and always decided against it for various reasons.  The main one is that I like being absolutely honest and I dislike hurting people, so that I would hesitate to write the truth about important episodes in my life.  I can hardly restrict what I write to people who are safely dead because many of those who knew them are still alive, and may be upset by what I write.

I was struck by something Mary Beard, the classical scholar, wrote in one of the books of her blogs.  She said that she regards a blog in some ways as being both a diary and an autobiography.  As I, too, am thinking of publishing my blogs in book form, perhaps that will take the place of my autobiography.

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