Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mrs Babcock by Gillian Anderson

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mrs Babcock by Gillian Anderson

Article excerpt

The star of The Fall and The X-Files lacked self-belief at school and was frequently in trouble, but a steadfast English teacher knew the true Gillian was out there...

Mrs Babcock was either my English or my creative-writing teacher in early high school. She used to come and visit me when I was in house detention - I would have been acting like an idiot, getting in trouble. She encouraged me to write poetry. She made me feel like I could write, like I had talent, and she encouraged me to continue.

Mrs Babcock gave me attention. She went out of her way, came to me and sat with me. I started a charity a few years ago in South Africa with a friend of mine; it provides mentors to youths for a period of time. Having a person who's reliable, who shows up - especially if you come from a situation where that was not the case, or you've been abandoned and realise you can't necessarily trust anyone - gives you that consistency. So does knowing that someone has faith in you and will stick with you.

It's very easy to feel shame, as a child, when you make mistakes. And it's very easy for adults to shame children. But it's destructive, especially if you're in the position of a teacher. Huge, huge damage can be done to self-confidence.

Mrs Babcock worked through my poetry with me and encouraged me to continue writing. And that, in and of itself, was invaluable. Sometimes I still write poetry. I go through stages where I write quite a lot, then stages where I write nothing for years.

My brother passed away a few years ago. He was in the process of getting his PhD at Stanford University. …

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