Rosemary Dinnage

Rosemary Dinnage, who died in 2015, was an editor at the TLS and wrote widely on psychoanalysis (she was one of Winnicott’s last patients), publishing a book of interviews with patients, One to One: Experiences of Psychotherapy. She also compiled a book of interviews about death, The Ruffian on the Stair. Alone! Alone! Lives of Some Outsider Women collects some of her pieces, written across several decades.

Big Thinks

Rosemary Dinnage, 22 June 2000

Rebecca West died 17 years ago at 90, in a comfortable flat overlooking Hyde Park. She was a Dame Commander of the British Empire, to her amusement and gratification. Will she be remembered more as a character, thoroughly damely and commanding, or for her writings? Eleven novels, of no outstanding literary merit; nine other books on general subjects, of which the most admired (and especially relevant today) is Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, on Yugoslavia; a mass of articles on the public affairs of her time. She was an oracle, a pontificator, and unclassifiable; had she written only fiction or only political analysis, she might have left a more settled reputation. She was chagrined to know quite well that she would be remembered for her private life: her affair with H.G. Wells – girl, 21, meets bounder, 47 – and the birth of their son. The story is not gossip fodder, but tragic and central to her life. When Wells is properly reassessed as a writer, it will be known which of the two leaves the greater literary reputation.

Diary: Remembering (and Forgetting) 1943

Rosemary Dinnage, 18 May 2000

In 1943, victory for the Allies being in sight, I was in Princeton, after three and a half years in Canada as a wartime evacuee, waiting for a passage home on a safe neutral ship. My temporary host was principal of the Institute of Advanced Study; he and his wife lived in one of those 19th-century clapboard houses that are the pride of American suburbia. Down at the end of the straight path to the Institute buildings, Einstein could often be seen shuffling gently about, distinguished by his wearing of sandals with no socks and, of course, by the wild white hair. The socklessness seemed to amaze Americans, though one might think that socks underneath hot-weather sandals took away their point. I wore very clean white socks, for I was a bobby-soxer, a Frank Sinatra fan who brought his very earliest records back to England in my trunk unchipped, to my family’s derision. (Would that I had them now! He was never so good again.)

Streamlined Smiles: Erik Erikson

Rosemary Dinnage, 2 March 2000

Psychoanalysts and psychologists have always done it: construct the final theory about human nature around their own problems in life. Few did so more strikingly than Erik Erikson, ‘identity’s architect’ as he is rather grandiosely titled by Lawrence Friedman: he made identity his key concept because it was something he was deprived of in a dramatic way. To the end of his days, he had no idea who his father was.‘

Diary: Evacuees

Rosemary Dinnage, 14 October 1999

Everyone knows the pictures: ranks of small children, smiling ones pushed to the front, the boys with Just William socks and the girls with brutally chopped hair, and each one with a luggage label on the collar and a gas-mask over the shoulder. Few people can have missed all the recent media stories about the evacuation of more than a million city children as soon as war was declared in 1939. Immediate bombing was expected, on the pattern of the Spanish Civil War, and probably gas attacks. Distribution to foster homes in the country was haphazard (‘I’ll take a girl, please – curly hair and no lice’), and mixed in outcome, for both children and hosts. But the bombing didn’t start for another year, after the ‘Phoney War’ had ended. At that point, in 1940, there was further evacuation, overseas to the Dominions.’‘

Like a Retired Madam: Entranced!

Rosemary Dinnage, 4 February 1999

‘What is it that makes the lodestone attract the needle? What is the secret of electricity?’ asks the heroine of a popular novel published in 1845:‘

De Mortuis

Christopher Driver, 28 June 1990

If the Sixties were the decade for penis power, the Nineties are already designed for turning up one’s toes, and at the risk of proclaiming myself as the Fiona Pitt-Kethley of the...

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