Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When is a Blog not a Blog?

Jeanette Winterson is one of those writers who like to take risks.
She doesn't restrict herself to one style of prose or a particular area of subject matter.

I was surprised by her website when I first encountered it. She has included a vast range of her journalism, and includes some of the poetry which she most admires. There is even a message board. It feels intimate and personal in a way that most writer's sites don't. It almost feels like a blog.

Winterson's personal background couldn't be more bizarre. She was adopted by strict (some might say barking mad) pentecostalists. They brought her up to believe that the only book worth reading was the bible. From an early age she was groomed to become a missionary; speaking at tent revivalist meetings and handing out biblical tracts on beach seafronts. It's not the Christian tradition that she was brought up with that is unusual, it's the intensity and narrowness of her adoptive parents world view that is frankly shocking.

Her escape was the classic working class story of Grammar School, books and University. Her background has produced an individual of strongly held and, some might say, contradictory views. Firmly of the liberal left, she also funds her godchilds education at an elite private school.
This is understandable; her escape from an impoverished intellectual background was through education. Naturally she wishes her godchild to benefit from the same high educational standards that she experienced. That, sadly, is not available in today's state education system. Comprehensive education has betrayed the very class it was meant to benefit. The Grammar schools were the greatest agency of class mobility for bright working class kids after the war. The closing of that route has entrenched the very social disadvantages that the Comprehensive system was intended to address.

Some writers, once successful, retreat to Hampstead. Winterson, typically, bought a semi-derilect 18th century Hugenot terrace house in east London and has renovated it at huge expense. On the ground floor she has opened a delicatessan. I admire that; writers should engage with the world, not be aloof from it.

Click on the link to her website. It's worth a look.


Herge Smith said...

Blimey, and now you're into the fem writers...

You are an interesting character -

Hey, wait a minute - Winterson is ginger I believe - she certainly was in the adaptation when Charlotte was her face - died of asthema. played her.

Hypocrite. I will never return.

Great piece btw - think I'll check out Wintersons site - I've liked a couple of her novs, although I was a bit put off by Written on the body, which I found a tad pretentious.

But I'm probably wrong.

I was about to check spelling and stuff, but I can't be arsed, so sorry in advance.

Not that I'll be back mind.

garfer said...

You will note that the picture of Jeanette is monochrome. Questions of gingerness are therefore immaterial.
I haven't read actually read that much of her stuff apart from Oranges.
Her journalisms good tho.

Sniffy said...

One of my favourite dramatisations ever is Oranges are not the only fruit - and this isn't because of its librarian content. The setting is fascinating and the characters are scary and amusing at the same time "You don't need an airing cupboard when you've got Jesus". I'm shamed to admit that I've never read any of her work though.