Q & A with Andrew Birkin: Question #3


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Q & A with Andrew Birkin: Question #3

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Sep 17, 2004 9:10 am

As you read Mr. Birkin’s responses to our questions, please keep in mind that his answers are intended solely for the purpose of our readers. Please do not use his replies or take any quotes from them for any other purpose or post them on any other boards or websites. That was his only caveat when he agreed to participate, that our answers be kept “in house”. I know you all will honor his request!

3. Let me begin not with a question so much as a “thank you” for your approach to the book, Mr. Birkin: “a love story”/ “a documentary” letting contemporary words speak for themselves. Biographers often take a world view/ a point of view from their own times and impose it back upon the subject of their writings. Had Mr. Birkin imposed a view of Barrie as some sort of sexual cripple that would have been a book I would have not wanted to read let alone enjoy! How refreshing to discover JMB from those who knew and loved him best with their own words from that time! The reader is allowed to discover who Barrie was and not who an author thought he should be. Andrew P. age 11 wrote: “you’re old but you’re not grown up. You’re on of us!” and Nico L. Davies wrote, “He was an innocent; which is why he could write Peter Pan.” Thank you, Mr. Birkin, for your daring and honest approach to such a brilliant complex creative individual whom I only knew through his own words, through Peter Pan!

Could Mr. Birkin tell us HOW he came to present J.M. Barrie’s life in this way rather than in a more conventional way? Thank you so much for contributing to our discussion of your book in this way.

AB: As you will know from my various introductions to the book, I wrote the tele-vision scripts first, without any conscious thought of writing a biography. Although the TV scripts (readable on the Barrie website) stuck fairly close to the facts as I then knew them, I still took a certain amount of dramatic licence, and felt I owed it to Nico (and Barrie) to give the “true” documentary account as well. Having spent two years researching the story for the TV, I more or less constructed the biography from memory, and had to write the whole thing in 12 weeks... the reason being that I’d signed a contract with the publishers giving me 9 months, but 6 of those months had been spent on the set/cutting rooms of the TV production as I didn’t trust the director not to c**k things up! I actually find time-pressure a great help – it prevents dithering, and you simply have no alternative but to write off the cuff, i.e. from the heart. I never stopped to think how a biography OUGHT to be written – I just wrote it for me!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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