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April 22, 2011

Joanna Trollope: Her Creative Mother as Inspiration

Posted by Anonymous

Writing for more than 30 years, Joanna Trollope’s latest book DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW is a straightforward take on our ideas of family. In this ode to her 92-year-old mother, Joanna discusses her mother’s abundant creativity, and how she fostered Joanna’s early love of literature.

trollope.JPGMy mother is 92. She is a painter –-- and still painting. I’m sure she was drawing before she could even read, or write, and probably did all three when she was very small, growing up as she did –-- and I in turn --– before the universal dominance of television.

So, when it came to her own children –-- there are three of us, two girls and a boy --– it was both natural and inevitable that she expected us to be as interested in creativity as she was herself. For her, making something out of pigments or words or fabric or food is and was as natural as breathing.

To my eternal disappointment, I can’t draw. Where that attractive gene went, I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t come my way. . .But the assumption that creativity is basic to a satisfactory human life was powerfully present in my childhood. Our house was full of books ( a small, blurry, black and white television only made a modest appearance when I was 19) and we were all urged to read the novels my mother had loved in her own childhood –-- the Brontes and Jane Austen, E. Nesbitt and Frances Hodgson Burnett, Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery. Also, we read the poetry anthology my mother had kept all her adolescence, in a black loose leaf binder, with its emphasis on the tremendous poetry of the First World War, which had only ended the year before she was born.

It was impressed upon us all that Only A Boring Person Is Ever Bored, and I don’t think it would ever have crossed her mind to reprimand us for reading all day long instead of doing something healthy and hearty outdoors. So, even if I couldn’t draw, I could read --– and I did, endlessly, anything and everything. And I’m still at it, when I’m not writing. I simply can’t imagine not reading and writing. Any more, I would guess than Mum can imagine not drawing. I just hope I’m still doing it when I’m 92. . .