Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell is a subeditor at the Guardian.

The Year of My Father’s Dying

Jane Campbell, 8 November 2018

On 18 October​ 2010 my father, Peter Campbell, was diagnosed with the cancer of which he would die exactly one year and one week later. I do not know precisely how he lived with the knowledge of his approaching death, what denials he practised or accommodations he reached, because he chose – once the oncologist at the Royal Marsden had handed down the death sentence – to live as...

Hot Fudge

Jane Campbell, 19 October 1995

Jane Smiley’s gift for making the unthinkable I compulsively readable is most apparent in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres, a transposition of King Lear to contemporary Iowa. Larry Cook is an ageing farmer who, by dint of hard work, canny management and lack of aversion to profiting from the misfortunes of others, has built up his farm to 1000 acres. ‘The seemingly stationary fields are always flowing toward one farmer and away from another. The lesson my father might say they prove is that a man gets what he deserves by creating his own good luck,’ says the narrator, his daughter Ginny. In Zebulon County there are rifts over land and money between and within families, historic disputes which ‘bum so hot’ that they ‘engulf every other subject’. If land cannot be won back in one lifetime the imperative to reclaim it is the legacy one generation leaves to the next.


Jane Campbell, 20 April 1995

At first it was supposed that William Marsh Rice, millionaire and founder of Rice University in Texas, had died from eating bananas; nine bananas, in fact, five baked and four raw. He had invited his valet Charlie Jones to join him. The valet, who later confessed that he had Chloroformed his employer, refused: ‘I told him that I was afraid of bananas and wouldn’t try any.’ Dr Curry, who attended the body, found that the 84-year-old man had died of natural causes. Worry about the Galveston hurricane, which had taken place a fortnight before, in August 1900, had exacerbated his decline, but eating bananas had been the major cause of death.

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