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‘Women with children writing’

24 April 2017

‘I refuse to be bullied by the idea that you have to have mental peace to write. I have no mental peace but I have written despite that. It's been from about the mid-Seventies that we've had this phenomenon of women with children writing. There's 2,000 years of that not being true, like literally never true. You can find four exceptions, maybe, including A S Byatt. Really, it's a revolution...

The one thing I feel is really depressing is this idea that writing needs this absolute concentration, months alone.

That's what men were telling their wives while they sat up there... Dickens had 10 children. He wasn't thinking about them. Nor was Tolstoy, for sure. They were writing all day long. Women are thinking about them. The writing is different. I don't think it's worse, it's different.'

Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time, NW and White Teeth, in the Evening Standard