So, seven years after I first got interested in Eglantyne the book is due to be published – today!
I am of course extremely excited and rather nervous. My mother has rather sweetly just sent me a card congratulating me on the imminent birth of my fourth child – and in some ways it has felt like a rather long labour and at times painful delivery! In fact, producing the book has often made me think about my own experience as a mother – I promise not to get too far fetched here, but I have not been unaware of the ironies involved in sneaking away from my own childcare time to write the life of a woman who had no kids of her own, but dedicated her life to championing child welfare – from a strategic distance. Eglantyne’s own lack of maternal sentiment is one of the many intriguing things about her. I even ended up calling one early chapter, when she taught in a working class school for a short while, ‘Testing the maternal impulse’.
Meanwhile, I found out I was pregnant with my third daughter the week I got a publishing deal, and nine months later I spent many hours typing away on the last few chapters with my beautiful baby on my lap either sleeping or feeding. I got very good a typing with one hand!
And now here we are on the day of publication – it is not the same as having a child of course, nothing like, but I do feel like I am losing protective control of this long nurtured thing and sending it off out there on its independent shelf-life. Death of an author, birth of a book…