Chaired by Paul Blezard
Uncovering Family Secrets
Thursday 30 March 2017
Corpus Christi: Lecture TheatreVenue
Three writers who have uncovered truths buried in their family history discuss why families kept secrets in the past and contrast it with today where we are encouraged to be more open about family tragedies.
Richard Beard is a novelist and non-fiction writer. In The Day that Went Missing he goes in search of the truth about his brother Nicholas, who drowned on a family holiday in 1978. Beard and his other brothers didn’t attend the funeral and the family returned to the holiday cottage to complete their holiday. They soon stop speaking about the tragedy altogether.
Vanessa Nicolson is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West. In The Truth Game, she writes of a game played with her father in which each has to answer truthfully. She asks her father: ‘Apart from with Mummy, have you ever been so in love that you would have liked to marry someone else?’ Her father is visibly shaken and the truth emerges.
John de St Jorre, a former MI6 agent and foreign correspondent for the Observer, describes the search for his mother in Darling Baby Mine. His mother disappeared without a trace when he was four. de St Jorre found her 35 years later, a woman scarred by years in mental institutions.