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Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner

Interview by Richard Marshall.


(Marina Warner at 3:AM’s summer shindig, The Horse Hospital, London, 2003)

MW [in medias res]: …I was talking to someone the other day and they were saying – Israel and the world – it’s an umbilical cord. It can’t be cut. I’m always amazed when people think this issue isn’t a political issue. It becomes a thing that can’t be discussed…

The word ‘storia’ comes from the Greek meaning inquiry. That’s a good clue as to what stories are for. Stories are enquiries and I think also that culture is to enquire into the state of things… I thought David Edgar wrote a good political play – The Prisoner’s Dilemma, (about the Oslo accords) and of course there are great political plays in the past but I think also in sub-cultures where the politics are not explicit we still can find enquiries into the state of things.

I came across a fascinating little thing once… I was reviewing a book called Poison,– a family memoir by Gail Bell – whose grandfather may or may not have been a poisoner – and in those days anything could be a poison if given in the wrong dose – and in this case its parsley juice – and in the first versions of the fairy story Rapunzel the witch’s brew is parsley – and the name of the little girl in French and Italian versions means ‘little parsley girl’. It suddenly struck me – and this is very much my argument about fairy tales – they are about women’s things that are being discussed in a kind of code. So Rapunzel becomes a story about a young woman who is pregnant who steals into the witch’s garden to get a parsley and the witch comes out – it’s a concealed story about the perils of an attempted abortion. When the witch comes out and catches the child , instead of having a very inexplicable psychological plot motif – why should the old woman want the child? – what you possibly have is a story about a failed abortion and then a situation where the child is given away because the mother can’t keep the child. It’s clearly not a story on the side of the mother – it deals out harsh penalties as consequences and so on – but it shows that even a story as seemingly unpolitical as Rapunzel does connect quite closely with the social and moral mores of the day.

3:AM: How did your interest in this stuff start?

MW: I read. I was a real book worm. I’d read anything – a lot of trashy stuff as well, not just beautifully bound volumes of fairy tales! I had the old fashioned Girl Comic and at the back it had heroines of our time. One day in my writing life I looked back at them and thought MY God, I must have written about every single one of them! My father had a library with books from his childhood – his youth anyway – so I also read a lot of boys books too. I read Henty and CS Forrester, the whole of Conan Doyle – not just Sherlock Holmes – they’re marvellous. I loved them. Jules Verne. I read Rider Haggard. I’m not going to do what Francis Spufford did in his memoir The Child That Books Built, but I think it’s terribly interesting what he did. He reread his childhood reading. I’m not going to do that but…

3:AM: You haven’t got the time. You’ve read too much!

MW: There’s no doubt though that I was captivated by the Imperial Adventure! Which was a very strong feature of children’s literature. Fringe figures like pirates are a central part of this adventure – empire, subduing barbarians, hiking out into the unknown – and I did mind that women didn’t figure very much in these stories of derring do – there were tomboys, Jo in Little Women and George in the Famous Five, – the same way my questions about women grew out of that, so too my questions about empire and the power of empire grew out of all this naval power and stories of daring do that I was steeped in.

3:AM: You’re a scholar but you seem to have stayed outside of the academies.

MW: I’m actually old enough for it to have been difficult. I’m of the generation before the New Universities. Of course the Red Brick Universities existed, so there was an element on my part of snobbery I suppose, but the New Universities – Sussex, Essex and so on, they opened in the late Sixties when I was a young woman and I didn’t know what they entailed, I suppose I didn’t have the pioneering instinct. And at the time women and their achievements were disparaged, there’s no doubt about it! I wanted to prove myself. I worked for Isis, the University magazine, in order to do that. Mary Kaldor was the first editor and I was the first single woman to edit it. I wanted to do it in the spirit of defiance. That sense has gone completely now – no one would think twice about a woman editing a magazine these days, but then it was quite a thing. There were still these tiny little fences to jump!

I read French and Italian. There were no contemporary literary studies, or interdisciplinary courses. I was always interested in ideas of literature and art and the interaction of ideas. But there were very few courses then I wanted to do. I always wanted to write. I really started writing when I was very young. So I became a journalist. I went to the Telegraph Magazine. It was the early years of the colour supplements. It was a good apprenticeship. I was in a big open plan office with typewriters making a racket. I learned to write captions. You learned to write to the space you were given. They gave me the character count for the line and you had to fit it. Again, deep archaeology, deep time, hot metal, you had to lead the line to the exact margin, no computers, nothing! So when you were told to write a caption to a photograph, it had to fit. That was a good apprenticeship because I learned to concentrate through as lot of noise. And I learned to write to length exactly!

3:AM: And then you wrote Alone Of All Her Sex. It must have taken a bit of nerve to write a book like that.

MW: I was asked to write an essay for a collection called Woman on Woman. It was a very early women’s studies books. We were asked ‘How did we become a woman? What were the formative influences?’ I thought about it, and in my case, it was definitely the Virgin Mary. She was the model held up to us Catholic girls. I realised that from nine to 16 at school I led the life of a little nun. We were interwoven into their daily ritual. I got up every day and first to up the girls, the nuns came into the dormitory and everyone had to repeat Et cum spiritu tuo, then we went to chapel, to Mass and communion. We had pious readings in lessons, grace of course before and after meals and so on. The Angelus three times a day. Benediction three times a week. Jesuits now and then giving retreats. Confession once a week. Absolutely astonishing.

It was also made very clear to us that girls were too polluted and defiled to be altar boys and so the altar boys were imported. Anyway, I wrote an essay about all this, and the editor said it was a very good subject. He’s dead now, but he was very supportive and he said I should write a book. Christopher Falkus was his name. He was a Catholic and he knew all about it. And I said ‘Don’t condemn me to that. I’ve spent all these years trying to extricate myself from that. I’ve been thinking about it and trying to straighten out my head!’ And he told me to think about it. So I went back and I read the Gospels. And I was amazed at how little there was in the Gospels about the Virgin Mary. It was then that I realised that she was a historical subject, constructed through time. A terrifically interesting phenomenon. Not only does she not appear very much in the Gospels but when she does she’s often quite disparaged! I think I’d already subconsciously accepted what I think is the main idea behind my books: I truly believe that imagination leads experience. We don’t, unfortunately perhaps, experience things and learn from that.

We learn from imaginative structures which filter into us from all sorts of different media. We see things through the mind’s eye. If you actually show people things they have to apprehend it through things they already have. There’s no other way of sorting it out. There’s too much data. So here we have a case where the Catholic Church communicated all this revealed truth, which in fact was nowhere revealed. It came about through a very long tradition.

This is true of most things. Very few things are as they seem. We live in a virtual world. I’ve tried to argue that this is not a fatalist position but rather that it is a position of potential. Stories can go in either direction. I think that’s true of Palestine and Israel actually. There are lots of stories, unbelievably horrible and vicious stories which are incredibly difficult to stop, but I think it is historically demonstrable that the stories the Zionists tell about themselves and Israel are deforming to the Israelis themselves.


3:AM: This is similar to what Tom Paulin would say about the stories the Ulster Scots tell themselves in Northern Ireland. They’re telling the wrong stories and distorting their own history…

MW: Yes, exactly.

3:AM: So how was your book received?

MW: It was very controversial. I was condemned in several places. Certainly in Ireland. I had some very interesting good responses too. For instance, Joseph Needham wrote me a very interesting letter. He was the great Sinologist and he was still alive then in Cambridge. He was also a lay minister and very ecumenical. He preached a kind of sermon from my book, or an address at least. I was very proud of that! I did get a huge amount of mail and a lot of it was furious.

3:AM: You always have lots of pictures in your books. Do you have an arts training?

MW: No. My father was very encouraging and was a wonderful walker around galleries and towns. He was a bookseller. Julian Barnes brought out a book of his essays about France, Something to Declare, about his parents and our stories are very similar. His parents were French school teachers. We had a car, a Hillman Minx, and my father – we lived in Belgium which made it easier to travel – he’d put me and my sister on the backseat and drive us to Italy. He was a very good talker about the history of the places we visited with a tremendous vivid memory and great enthusiasm. I see tourists today shuffling around and I feel they need to be given stories. My father did this. He brought places to life. He was a born teacher in many ways. But anyway, we don’t receive stories in just one media. We experience the world in mixed media. Hence the pictures I use in the books.

3:AM: Then you did Joan of Arc.

MW: Joan of Arc was the swing of the pendulum. I’d looked at the meek, humble, motherly virgin and I thought strange how the Church has this other Saint. Joan is very exceptional of course. In many, many ways. She’s the only Saint who was canonised after the church had burnt her to death! A very exceptional situation. They had to pretend that it wasn’t their fault!! They did it for cynical reasons too. It wasn’t that they were simply trying to make reparation. They were trying to rally the Church in France which was turning anti-clerical.

3:AM: You were attracted to this character?

MW: Well yes. I loved Joan of Arc. It’s interesting. Of all my books that’s the one I’ve most lost touch with. I mean, I’m still very caught up with the Catholic Church in some ways and the Virgin Mary… for instance with the child abuse problem is absolutely directly linked to what I was trying to write about. I don’t think it’s been said sufficiently about child abuse that where the abuse lies is not so much in the actual physical activity – although of course this can very unpleasant – but in the way children are represented as as tempting, as occasions of sin. In a film like The Magdalen Sisters, you can see how nuns and priests abused children for causing Sin in others. That vision, that vision of Original Sin, that they are sexualised by this taint, that’s where the deep trouble lies and it’s brought about a real Catholic Nemesis. It may have taken 2000 years but it’s a ringing example of absolutely direct nemesis, it’s what Dante talks about in hell… you’re punished for what you did and the church will be destroyed, and it is being financially destroyed, by this absolutely central violence that it did to human nature. By pronouncing that a child’s natural beauty is a source of wrongdoing. I don’t know. It’s truly wicked…

3:AM: The Catholic Church are right to see you as a bit of a problem.

MW: I’m reading a tremendously interesting book by Gianni Vattimo, the Italian philosopher. He’s a deputy to the European parliament, teaches in Turin I believe, and he’s invented this idea called ‘Weak Thought.’ The idea is basically that our thinking is muddled, we must live with contingency, that we must let go of ideas of being pure and hard and strong, we must abandon the illusion of master theories of whatever. Now it turns out that he’s a Catholic, which took my breath away. He’s written a book called After Christianity where if you think I’m critical of the Church… But he is a devout man. Not like me. I’m not a believer at all. He’s very good at the way the church has used a concept of nature in the service of its own violence. Women, abortion, HIV, and so on… invoking supposed natural law to repress.

3:AM: You think that the church is telling gendered stories?

MW: Yes. And I think Vattimo is absolutely right when he says that nature has been changed into an unassailable grand truth. So sex has to be natural – no use of contraception – and so on. The idea is used to do violence to individuals and to society.

3:AM: Do you see your work, retelling stories, looking at them again and so on, as linking with other writers such as Iain Sinclair?

MW: I like his work a lot. He’s very compelling and I like him: I was in a film he made with Chris Petit. I was being blown about by wind so you couldn’t see me very well as my hair was all over my face! He asked me to talk about doubles and doppelgangers. In the film where the young woman is looking for someone on her quest and she meets me on the way. And he took me to Beckton Alps. It’s a false mountain for skiing in the East End, not far from the Millennium Dome. It has a chalet at the bottom which is a pub and a shop for skiing equipment. This is where the meeting with me in the film takes place. And we were filming when this big red Jag pulled up. And the man serving tea in the chalet said ‘Oh, here comes the boss. Have you asked for permission to film?’ And out of the car steps this man all covered in jewellery, beer belly and so on. But Iain just talked to him – like a country doctor – and this man had just come back from a winter holiday in Grenada – Iain talked to him and it was fine, absolutely fine. But not many people could do that. He’s a magician.

I think I live in a slightly uneasier relationship to stories than he does. When Iain is visited by his psycho-geographic hauntings they have a beautiful texture but I’m afraid I am a bit more restless. I want to know why those sorts of phenomena are happening now, are of interest now. It’s a kind of insomniac tic of some kind! It’s not very comfortable. So with regard to his interests, I’ve been writing for ages – he knows this – a book called Spirit Visions – but it was interrupted because I got ill…

3:AM: Conan Doyle was into that stuff wasn’t he?

MW: Oh yes. He was really into it. He was one of those contradictory Victorians who believed in spirit materialism. He believed that the dead were somehow re-materialised and came back. Actually the Victorians had many many theories about it. It was mostly, for the Victorians, a non-religious experience. So I was thinking about what lay behind these beliefs and what they mean and how they have changed. And I think, with regard to the psychogeographic hauntings, that we’re living now in a transformed state of memory – because of the media, because of photography. Photography has reconfigured our minds.

There are very simple aspects to this. It isn’t possible for parents to remember what their children looked like at every stage of their growth until photography. And that becomes even sharper with videos. I don’t remember what my son looked like at every stage of his life. Of course I have memories. But I know exactly what he looks like in the photographs. And I remember the photos.

3:AM: Is this something gained or something lost?

MW: Well, it needs to be thought about. Of course it has been. By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does. Camcorders are very very strange, the way they have a memory which doesn’t exist in any other form at all except for the digital signal… it’s very strange. So in a sense Iain Sinclair’s memory world of the M25 is a kind of digitally layered series of images that he becomes the recorder of, he becomes the receptacle.

3:AM: It links with his interest in the Beats and in the stuff he has done with Ballard.

MW: In fact Ballard says, in a very psychic moment, that when the bomb exploded it was like God taking a photograph of the universe.

3:AM: Can you talk about ‘Metamorphing’ at the Science Museum?

MW: ‘Metamorphing’, the exhibition, really does develop some of the things we’ve been talking about. You know, it makes me angry when someone says someone is wrong about something in science. I mean, take Aristotle, he was wrong about so much. He believed the most weird things about menstruation and generation and all kinds of animals What we should take from that is not to scorn him, but to accept that we’re unlikely to get it right about anything either. We should be humble and full of contrition and accept our weakness. Even Aristotle, a keen-eyed observer, didn’t know this, didn’t know that, it took until the seventeenth century before it was known that there wasn’t spontaneous generation. We needed the microscope to see that things actually came out of eggs, that they didn’t come out of things fully fledged like Athena out of her father’s head. So what ‘Metamorphing’ showed us, in a very sketchy way obviously, was, without being cynical, without putting everything in doubt, that everything is a series of stories.

One story prominent at the moment, that arises from the question of metamorphosis is this belief that everything lies within our control, that if you and I wanted we could change ourselves – our breasts and so on, and it comes from, if you like, the wrong end of metamorphosis, the idea that we can master it. I don’t think we should go along this path towards individual consumerism.

I’m not totally against medical intervention, because I know really ill people need this stuff. So I’m in favour of growing skin and so on. But I’m not at all keen on cosmetic surgery. I know it grew out of medical reconstruction and of course I’m in favour of medical reconstruction. People who have been in horrendous accidents, it’s really important to give them back their dignity when it is possible. I think though we should use medicine as a social good rather than as a personal choice. And the personal choice is wrong from the social good point of view because those who are poor do not have personal choice. It’s wrong from the moral point of view too because medicine should be a social good like clean water, proper sanitation. You see, I think the hospital worker is more important than the fireman. Nobody seems to care about them but they’re the absolute bedrock of hospitals. And yet they’re so downtrodden. And yet they’re the absolute key. They keep the places going.


3:AM: I want you talk about zombies.

MW: Do you identify with them? I watched the Romero film The Night of the Living Dead, and the sequels. I was astonished. I didn’t realise how good a film the first one is. I only just viewed it. As research for the book. It’s got such a sense of the industrialised bleakness. What do you make of the central character being black? I read a review which absolutely lambasted the defender of the house being played by a black actor without it being written into the script. This kind of colour blindness was absolutely racist, the critic was saying. Nobody in the film alludes to him being black…

3:AM: But surely the ending, where they shot him dead, surely that stops that argument.

MW: Yes, brilliant.

3:AM: In Romero’s own remake, it’s not a black actor but a white woman.

MW: In the first one the shooting at the end looked just like a lynching. Did you notice that he changed some frames to include Christian Fundamentalists? He put in a satanic minister in the remake near the end and I thought that rather diluted the message of the film even though I suppose it was right because that’s the politics of the time. We have this unholy alliance between the Christian Fundamentalists and Bush’s oil politics. A disgusting marriage. So I could see that it made it sense.

I like the idea of the zombie as having been evacuated of all real consciousness, in ravening pursuit of the living who do. A brilliant analogy. The idea of the zombie was the product of the political and economic system. The film took that and adapted it by transforming it into a consuming cannibal vampire. Of course in the original Caribbean figure zombies are about what slavery does to you. That aspect of cannibal vampire doesn’t actually come into it because that creature has too much will. What the idea is that you lose all will and desire and that you become a totally reduced being because those things that make you you are taken from you. I was so surprised by what I found when I started looking into this creature.

When I looked in the OED I found the first entry for ‘zombie’ was given as Southey, History of Brazil, 1819, I thought nothing of it, but then someone said to me that it was by Robert Southey, the poet, and that made it sound a little more interesting because he was a very literary man so I went and had a look. I found that the copy in the British Library had been given by Southey to his brother-in-law Coleridge. I brought it up on the computer and found that it had also been annotated by Coleridge. Southey uses the word ‘zombie’ and Coleridge annotates it and he says Southey hasn’t really understood the meaning of this word.

Southey’s describing an uprising of runaway slaves against the Portuguese colonists of Brazil. And the runaway slaves were all massacred. And Southey says that this was a Utopian society ruled by an elected chieftain, filled with wisdom and justice, who is called Zombi. ‘And this word in their language means devil,’ writes Southey. But Coleridge writes in the margin – No, this word does not mean the devil, it means a devil. Meaning Coleridge’s idea of the daemon. The indwelling spirit. So he’s basically telling Southey that he’s giving the mistaken impression that this man is the devil, but it doesn’t mean that, it means that he’s a spiritual force, a vital essence, he’s a life principle.

What’s interesting is that that’s not the modern day meaning of zombie, which mans someone who has been robbed of life force or spirit. But obviously this chimed – I’ve argued – with something that Coleridge knew very very well, what happens when the life force is taken. So when the runaway slaves are destroyed by the Portuguese the meaning of zombie switches over. Instead of being a life force of a chieftain elected to rule it becomes instead an evaporated life spirit of a slave who has lost his soul. And this chimes well with Coleridge’s preoccupation with The Ancient Mariner, with Christabel, even with the figure in ‘Kubla Khan’,with the whole idea of being spellbound. And it’s not, as many people have pointed out, just a state of subjective trance – Coleridge is a political writer – and so the entranced state need not be personal, it can be a social state…

3:AM: Your office worker ground down by faceless beaurocracy etc etc…

MW: Yes. So the Ancient Mariner with its vision of all those living dead rowing the hulk, Empson saw it as a great poem about slavery. These were the slaves and it was the Ancient Mariner’s guilt. And Coleridge was involved in the abolitionist cause. He preached on it. It was on his mind. I think he was the first person to comment on the word zombie. And for a very good reason because he knew what it was all about. So I tried to explain how zombie got into public consciousness. There’s an astonishing development and acceptance of the concept.

What I argued in the book was that new ideas about people come in and move through culture. And zombie was one of them. I mean, nobody knew about the word before 1819 – it wasn’t a word, it wasn’t even a concept, the living dead, we had nothing but ghosts before that. That is, we had the dead walking about. But living people who are dead walking about because things had happened to them, that was new. So I agree with you about zombies. There’s a fascination with them, a thrill – whenever I tell people I’m writing about zombies – they always laugh. In fact I often work on things that make people laugh. When I worked on bananas it always made people laugh. When I work on zombies they always say you can’t be doing that! When I went to Australia I gave two lectures one on zombies and one on ectoplasm and people just laughed when they heard.

3:AM: Do you still get a thrill out of a monster being a monster even though you have all this erudite back story to them?

MW: I know some better than others. Monsters, even in fairy stories, horror, it’s psychologically complicated. It’s something to do with feeling safe. Every child is different, every family too. A child can feel safe with very frightening territory, others not. You can’t easily generalise.

3:AM: Say a little about your own novel writing and short story fiction. Your non-fiction work is so imaginative and weird I wonder what is the point of you writing fiction?

MW: There are things I feel I can do in my fiction that I can’t do in my non-fiction. One of them is to try and catch the feeling aspect – I haven’t done it to my satisfaction at all – one of the things I’d like to do before I die is to try and write what love feels like. I know the poets have done that but that’s a higher thing. Most of us if we’re lucky enough have experienced what it is to love and perhaps to feel what it is to be loved. In The Leto Bundle I try and look at the internal heroic life – a nondescript woman going through with her baby – I wanted to get that feeling of how you’ll do almost anything for your children . Everything that stands in the way is made good by that.

And Milan Kundera says something I agree with when he says that everyone should have their story heard. Jacqueline Wilson does that, she gives people their voice, one that you don’t always hear in literature. Now when I wrote my third novel, The Lost Father, which is about women’s role in fascism, there’s no way I could have written that as a non-fiction book. Firstly it would have taken an enormous amount of research and secondly women in history are invisible, it would have been impossible to retrieve the details. In terms of what history is interested in, not only is women’s contribution paltry but they didn’t have the means to participate in the struggle with Fascism. In fiction I could take a totally different approach than in non-fiction. I was able to show how they coped by not being heroic. It shows the compromises they made, it shows the context that makes them humanly understandable. I shows the way we try and get through things. It shows how they romance themselves into another way of life which is a very unhistorical thing to do. I’ve always liked writing fiction as well!

3:AM: What I like about your work is the way you mix high and low culture, erudite and popular stuff – Ovid and Disney and so on.

MW: I was criticised for not having enough low culture in this last book! It’s the way I was brought up by my father. We went to the movies, had books, language even – whatever he was interested in so the divisions weren’t there.

3:AM: Ted Hughes’s last book was in your territory – Ovid and all that. What do you think of what he achieved there?

MW: For me he overdid the sacred mysteries. But he certainly put Ovid back on the map. And I must say that I liked the tape that he made a lot. It has a real eloquence. They’re not really like Ovid. They’re like Ovid in their words but they’re much more violent and jagged. Ovid is very vivid and he describes all these scenes of violence but there’s always a sense of ironic distance as if he’s holding the Gods to account for all the things that they allowed to happen. I think Hughes’s approach makes him much more complicit with the violence than Ovid is. But I learned a lot from reading him. And I went on to study metamorphoses partly through reading his translation of Ovid. I mean, I was interested in metamorphosis from all the fairy tales I’d read and I did get very very interested in it as potential change.

I met Ted Hughes once, only once. And he wrote me a long letter once about my novel Indigo. I must say he was a very impressive man and I’m saddened by all the stories about him and wish they weren’t true.

3:AM: Another writer I connect with you, more so than Ted Hughes, is Angela Carter.

MW: My writing is much more entwined with hers. She had a huge effect on me. She first came into my consciousness when I was working for Vogue. She was writing for Vogue too. She was working for New Society at the same time . She was a very keen observer of trends. She liked style and fashion. She loved glamour. She loved people like Louise Brooks…

3:AM: Don’t we all!

3:AM: I met her and then she went off to Japan and then she came back and I read one of her novels, Love. And I was very frightened by it. I was still a hatchling with the egg shell on my head from my convent days and here was this very open-eyed examination of female sexuality – often on the edge of masochism, she really understood that, and it was very explicit compared to what I was used to – she really did something very different although she was very aware of pornography. I had read a bit of pornography but Angela’s work hinged on the real, she talked about sex in the way that it actually happened – even in The Bloody Chamber she is talking about discovering something about yourself through sex even though there was a fairy tale atmosphere around it, and very highly wrought prose.

Very different from, say, Henry Miller. So I was very disturbed by this and I didn’t really like her. It was a little too perturbing. Then just before The Sadeian Woman and The Bloody Chamber, those two key works, she brought out the Japanese short stories ‘Fireworks’ – Sadeian Woman was about 1979 and I met her in about 71-72. But the fairy tales developed out of material I knew and I understood and I was completely irradiated by The Bloody Chamber. She really gave me permission to think about fairy tales. And then she came to a lecture I gave and I was very moved that she was there and she liked it! We became friends. We were put a bit on the stand together. When From The Beast To The Blonde came out it was the same time as her Virago Book Of Fairy Tales. We were like Nora and Dora Chance. We did the boards together. Cardiff and places. We did these long trips, these long train rides, and it was wonderful. She died very soon after that. It was very sad.

Marina Warner is a prize-winning writer of fiction, criticism and history; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of female myths and symbols. She was born in London in 1946, of an Italian mother and an English father who was a bookseller. Educated in Cairo, Brussels, Berkshire, England, and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, she now has one son and lives in London.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, April 6th, 2009.