How many of you have heard of Ethel Mannin (1900-84)? She wrote over a hundred books, including novels, political reflections, autobiographical memoirs and travel-writing, but she has received precious little attention since her death. To my knowledge, in the past fifteen years, writing about her has been limited to two short studies, a publication of an extract, and the posting of two PDFs (see Notes at the end of this article). Why hasn’t some post-grad seized the opportunity to study Mannin? Too much reading already? She seems perfect for an independent publisher like Persephone Books to pick up and reissue. But perhaps she is too radical, or there are myriad complex copyright issues to be resolved.
Janet Todd, where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Born in mid Wales. Grew up in Wales, England, Scotland, Bermuda, Sri Lanka — we moved around a lot! Boarding school in Dolgellau.
What sorts of books were in your family home? Who were early formative influences?
Early years were spent abroad in houses with just a few books already there, usually popular novels by authors like Marguerite Steen, Somerset Maugham and Nevil Shute. I loved the children’s classics especially Alice in Wonderland and often read adult books I couldn’t possibly understand — just for the words. My bent was towards adventure stories like Kidnapped and The Flight of the Heron — that is once I’d passed through Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five. In my teens, being an outsider in each new school I fancied myself as an intellectual and started quite early on reading existentialists like Sartre — understanding very little! Continue reading Interview Janet Todd, author
Silent Women: Pioneers of Cinema is the first book to give an overview of early women filmmakers in the USA, Europe and beyond. It has fantastic b/w photos which will appeal to all lovers of the cinema and its early years.
Women continue to be statistically underrepresented in creative positions in Hollywood, at the centre of the US film industry. It is becoming increasingly shocking that the number of women at the top of the film industry remains so low, despite the 2009 best director Oscar going to a woman (Kathryn Bigelow for ‘The Hurt Locker’).