William Mayne update

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Mar 27 15:49:24 EST 2004

Sallyo wrote:

>How do you think this impinges on his work as a writer? Before this, he was
>much admired (even if not read a lot lately). Do you think there will be
>some revisionist readings and hasty droppings of his stuff from collections
>now? Or will his work continue to be esteemed?

Now that it is no longer a case just of accusation very late in the day but
of admitted guilt, I'm deeply saddened and sickened by this whole thing
(and can't for the life of me see how giving the man a custodial sentence
*now* is going to help *anyone* in this sorry mess) but I doubt it will
make me dislike those of his books I do like -- which admittedly is only
about five of them liked enough to have kept on the shelves, but those five
I *do* like.  It ought to be possible to dislike what he did, feel very
sorry indeed that he didn't get caught and get help to deal with it forty
years ago when that might have done some good and stopped him from going on
doing it, and still find the books he wrote to be worth reading.  Since
they didn't give me a grue at the time I read them, and I can't off-hand
think of anything in them that is even remotely related to the molestation
of female children, I don't think I'd be reasonable to hunt about and try
to find in them evidence of something that I don't think even in the light
of these revelations is actually there to find.

OTOH, I suppose it might be that the reason I didn't like much of his work
was that as a child/adolescent I found it disturbing without realising
*why* I found it disturbing, if you see what I mean.  Perhaps I ought to
try to find some of the ones I *disliked*, and see whether they have
something in them that I picked up with some sort of unconscious antennae
as being "wrongness".  Checking in the reference works I have available I
find that the ones I liked were mostly early ones, and it was his later
books that lost me.  Perhaps he changed...  I remember being disappointed
by *Words and Music*, the choir school book that came out last (or was the
last of that series I read).

I can't imagine stopping loving *The Patchwork Cat*, whatever the man who
wrote it may also have done!

As a matter of interest, does anyone think that work by Martin Cobalt,
Dynely James and Charles Molin will also be scrutinised for signs of
perverse sexuality?

>ODWJM... I seem to recall DWJ saying at leasttwo writers she knew didn;t
>like children At All.

Arthur Ransome came specially to complain to the mothers of the evacuees in
the Lake District that their beastly children made a noise and disturbed
him, and Beatrix Potter spanked DWJ's sister for resting during a long walk
leaning against BP's gate, or something, also during WWII.  Might that be
the two?  I think she's said somewhere that their horridness as people,
compared to the splendidness of their books, upset her quite a lot as aa
child and made her vow, later in her life when she'd become a writer, never
ever to be beastly to children in case she gave them as nasty a shock.


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