THERE IS NO more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall, wrote Cyril Connolly. Britain's latest Nobel Laureate for Literature, Doris Lessing, would doubtless agree.
Lessing abandoned her two infant children (both under five) after leaving her first husband. "I had these two children and just couldn't afford to keep them," she said. Her two prams were not only enemies of promise but became emblematic of female poverty.
Some of the best female writers of the 20th century found it difficult to combine motherhood and creativity.
Dame Muriel Spark walked out on her son when he was six to write novels and seek fame and fortune. She eventually cut her estranged son out of her multi-million pound will, leaving every penny of her assets to the female friend she lived with for 40 years.
Colette, who never wanted children, hardly ever saw her daughter whom she left in the hands of an English nanny. She chillingly, albeit rather brilliantly, described children as "those happy unconscious little vampires who drain the maternal heart". And as for Virginia Woolf, well, we all know what happened to her. The author of A Room of One's Own, who argued that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction", ended up without children and committed suicide.
My wife, who is writing a book, recites this litany of …