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Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser
  

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter

Biography / Autobiography   

RRP £20.00

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Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 25 March 2010.

Antonia Fraser’s memoir of the love story between herself and Harold Pinter, who spent 33 years together, having found each other somewhat later in life. Since 1968 Fraser has kept diaries and uses these to accurately recollect their first meeting and beyond. A moving, fascinating and life affirming memoir.

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Synopsis

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser

The subtitle of this wonderful memoir declares its contents: this is 'my life with Harold Pinter', not Lady Antonia Fraser's complete life, and certainly not his. In essence, it is a love story and as with many love stories, the beginning and the end, the first light and the twilight, are dealt with more fully than the high noon in between. The result is a marvellously insightful testimony to modern literature's most celebrated marriage, between the greatest playwright of the age and a beautiful and famous prize-winning biographer. Must You Go? is based partly on Antonia Fraser's own diaries, which she has kept since October 1968 when she suffered from withdrawal symptoms after finishing her first historical biography, Mary Queen of Scots. Antonia Fraser has also used her own recollections, both immediate reactions (she always writes her Diary the next morning, unless otherwise noted) and memories. She has quoted Pinter where he told her things about his past, once again noting the source, and has occasionally quoted his friends talking to her on the same subject. Intriguingly her Diaries always pay special attention to any green shoots where Pinter's writing is concerned, perhaps a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing the process first hand. Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser lived together from August 1975 until his death thirty-three years later on Christmas Eve 2008. 'O! call back yesterday, bid time return,' cries one of his courtiers to Richard II. This is Antonia Fraser's uniquely compelling way of doing so.

Reviews

'Antonia Fraser's poignant memoir Must You Go? begins in 1975 when, aged 42, she meets the playwright with 'bright black eyes' at a dinner party, sparking a 33-year love affair'
HARPER 'S BAZAAR

'Antonia Fraser writes a moving portrait of her relationship with late husband Harold Pinter'
VOGUE

'But the book is in the end not so much a literary memoir as the simplest of love stories. As such, it's captivating'
David Sexton EVENING STANDARD

'It is neither authobiography nor biography but a love story, romantic, poignant and very funny, illuminating her husband's character and creativity'
Valerie Grove THE TIMES

'Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, Must You Go?, is extraordinary by any standards. Based on the diaries she kept during her 33-year relationship with the dramatist, it is simultaneously a love story, an intimate portrait of a great writer and an exercise in self-revelation'
Michael Billington THE GUARDIAN

'This book - full of funny and tender things - satisfies on more than one level. It is an intimate account of the life and habits of a major artist; it is a pencil sketch of British high society in the second half of the 20th century; and it is, more than either of these things, and much more unusually, a wonderfully full description of the deep pleasures and comforts of married love'
Sam Leith SPECTATOR

About the Author

Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works including the biographies, CROMWELL: OUR CHIEF OF MEN, KING CHARLES II and THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMEN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND (Wolfson Award for History, 1984), THE WARRIOR QUEENS: BOADICEA¿S CHARIOT, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY (Franco-British Literary Prize 2001), which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola in 2006 and now most recently LOVE AND LOUIS XIV: THE WOMEN IN THE LIFE OF THE SUN KING. Antonia Fraser was made CBE in 1999, and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. She lives in London and is currently working on a biography of Queen Elizabeth I. She was married to Harold Pinter who died on Christmas Eve 2008 and has eighteen grandchildren.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

What's the first book you remember reading?
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall, when I was aged four and a half. I still have the copy, rebound after much use.

Where do you live? And why?
I have lived in the same house in Campden Hill Square since 1959; my six children were brought up here (two of them actually born in the house). I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Where do you write?
In the children's old nursery at the top of the house, rechristened the Eyrie. I couldn't wait to move in when they moved out as it has magnificent views.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?
Ancient electric typewriter (circa 1970) to which I am devoted.

Where were you born and raised?
Although I was born in Sussex Gate, Bayswater (now Ryadh House, I see), I was brought up in Oxford where my father taught at the University.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years?
I loved two out of my three schools, the Dragon School, Oxford, and St Mary's Convent, Ascot, which was the setting for the first Jemima Shore mystery, Quiet as a Nun.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind?
I didn't want to be an author. I just was an author since before memory.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. I wrote mock Shakespearean tragedies in verse: I like to think I've got better.

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
I only had one job: working for Weidenfeld & Nicolson and they've published all my non-fiction ever since.

If your house were burning down, what would you save?
My black and white cat Placido – except he'd probably get out first.

Have any of your books been televised or made into films? Who by and when were they screened? The Jemima Shore crime stories were made into two TV series, Quiet as a Nun, starring Maria Aitken, and Jemima Shore Investigates, starring Patricia Hodge. Marie Antoinette has recently been filmed by Sofia Coppola.

What is a typical writing day?
I like to work the whole morning without interruption (in an ideal world!), then time off, for a swim perhaps, and back about 5.00 pm. I never work at night.

What do you do when you are not writing? How do you relax? What are your hobbies? I love reading other people's crime novels to relax.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I'm going to write about Queen Elizabeth I. I always wanted to look at the other side of the picture since I wrote Mary Queen of Scots nearly 40 years ago and now it's time.

What single thing might people be surprised to learn about you?
I used to play rugger at the Dragon School! My children never believed me and I don't think my grandchildren do. On the wing, not in the scrum.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th January 2010

Author

Antonia Fraser

More books by Antonia Fraser
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    recommendations

Author's Website

www.antoniafraser.com/

Publisher

Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co

Format

Hardback
336 pages

Categories

Biography / Autobiography

Memoirs

ISBN

9780297859710

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