Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shaping the Early Chapter of My Life; READERS' LIVES

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shaping the Early Chapter of My Life; READERS' LIVES

Article excerpt

Barbara Henderson worked as a journalist on newspapers, radio and television for many years.

with her family in Berwick. She has a PhD in creative writing and lives She writes as Bea Davenport Tom''s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (Oxford University Press, 1958) I have very fond memories of my dad taking me to T & G Allan's in North Shields on a Saturday so that I could spend 25p, as it was then, on the latest Enid Blyton or anything published by Puffin. He''d then get a bit cross because I would start reading in the car and would be almost half finished by the time we got home. Tom''s Midnight Garden has a rather geeky child at its centre and, of course, the magical time-slip element to it. The many layers to this story didn''t strike me until I was an adult, but it deals with class, social history and the passing of time, all with great wisdom and insight.

Man Made Language by Dale Spender (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980) There are many feminist classics that really spoke to me as a young woman in the 1980s so it was hard to choose just one. But this is a breathtaking analysis of how language contributes to keep women 'in their place' and for someone who works with words, it was eye-opening. You can''t read this and ever again argue that using the word 'man' when you mean 'human' is irrelevant, for example. But of course it covers much wider territory than that and argues beautifully that language is never neutral. I''m with Spender when she writes: "If someone says, 'Oh, I''m not a feminist,' I ask 'Why? What''s your problem?'" The Penguin Dorothy Parker edited by Brendan Gill (Penguin, 1977) You might expect me to choose some journalism and the works of the wonderfully witty, cynical Dorothy Parker might just be my 'desert island' book. This edition is a joy because as well as her magazine journalism and reviews, it also contains her short stories and poems. …

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