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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   Books of the Month   eBook Favourites   
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Selected by Sarah Broadhurst

One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011.

March 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.

Shortlisted for the Galaxy Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2010.
Antonia Fraser’s memoir of the love story between herself and Harold Pinter. They 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 of a partnership between two of the greatest literary talents, with fascinating glimpses into their creativity and their illustrious circle of friends from the literary, political and theatrical world.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


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

I first saw Harold across a crowded room, but it was lunchtime, not some enchanted evening, and we did not speak. When Antonia Fraser met Harold Pinter she was a celebrated biographer and he was Britain's finest playwright. Both were already married - Pinter to the actress Vivien Merchant and Fraser to the politician Hugh Fraser - but their union seemed inevitable from the moment they met: 'I would have found you somehow', Pinter told Fraser. Their relationship flourished until Pinter's death on Christmas Eve 2008 and was a source of delight and inspiration to them both until the very end. Fraser uses her Diaries and her own recollections to tell a touching love story.


An uplifting, warm and moving tribute * GOOD BOOK GUIDE * The quiet brilliance of this book steals up on you... it's funny, clever and controlled... there is so much generosity here and so much love that by the final page, in a London hospital on Christmas Eve 2008, I was in tears. * GUARDIAN * Combining disarming emotional frankness with restrained elegance, Antonia Fraser weaves her diary entries and memories into a compelling and moving history of a long, passionate relationship. -- Katie Owen * SUNDAY TIMES * Brave but often funny in its account of a scandal that became a destiny, it teaches modern lovers a lesson that many will need to learn: how to say the long goodbye. -- Boyd Tonkin * INDEPENDENT * A wonderful tour of the world's top tables...the charm of this book lies in the powerful love between her and Pinter...Her account of Pinter's last days, roaring like a lion in the face of death, are deeply moving. -- Kate Saunders * TIMES *

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

3rd March 2011


Antonia Fraser

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Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


400 pages


Biography / Autobiography
Books of the Month
eBook Favourites




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