Jane Gardam


De Engelse schrijfster Jane Mary Gardam werd als Jane Pearson geboren op 11 juli 1928 in Coatham, North Yorkshire, en groeide op in Cumberland en de North Riding of Yorkshire. Op 17-jarige leeftijd won ze een studiebeurs om Engels te studeren aan Bedford College in Londen. Na het verlaten van de universiteit werkte Gardam in een aantal literatuur-gerelateerde banen, om te beginnen als Rode Kruis reizend bibliothecaris voor ziekenhuisbibliotheken, en later als journaliste. Ze trouwde met David Gardam en het paar kreeg drie kinderen. Gardam’s eerste boek was de kinderroman, “A Long Way From Verona”, werd gepubliceerd in 1971. Het boek won de Phoenix Award van de Children’s Literature Association in 1991. Hoewel ze haar eerste boek niet publiceerde voor ze over de 40 was is Gardam uitgegroeid tot een van de meest productieve schrijvers van haar generatie, met de 25 boeken die in de afgelopen 30 jaar zijn verschen en een aantal prestigieuze prijzen die op haar naam staan staan. Zij is de enige schrijver de Whitbread Book Award voor de beste roman twee keer heeft gewonnen (“The Hollow Land”, 1981 en “The Queen of the Tambourin”, 1991). Ze werd genomineerd voor de Booker Prize voor “God on the Rocks” (1978). Met haar korte verhalen en fictie voor kinderen heeft zij ook prijzen gewonnen, en in 1999 kreeg ze de Heywood Hill Award voor haar levenslange bijdrage aan de literatuur. Gardam is een Fellow van de Royal Society of Literature.

Uit: The Man in the Wooden Hat

“There is a glorious part of England on the Dorset-Wiltshire border known as The Donheads. The Donheads are a tangle of villages loosely interlinked by winding lanes and identified by the names of saints. There is Donhead St Mary, Donhead St Andrew, Donhead St James and, among yet others, Donhead St Ague.
This communion of saints sometimes surprises newcomers to the area if they are not religious and do not attach them to the names of each village’s church. Some do, for the old families here have a strong Roman Catholic tinge. It was Cavalier country. Outsiders, however, who have bought up the village houses and the old cottages of the poor, call The Donheads ‘Thomas Hardy country’ and so it is described by the estate agents.
And not entirely truthfully, for Hardy lived rather more to the southwest. The only poet celebrated for visiting a Donhead seems to be Samuel Taylor Coleridge who came to see a local bookish big-wig but stayed for only one night. Perhaps it was the damp. The Donhead known as Ague seems connected to no saint and is thought to be a localised Bronze Age joke. Nobody would call a child Ague and almost everyone suffers from aching joints. Even so, it is the most desirable of all the villages, the most beautiful and certainly the most secluded, deep in miles of luxuriant woodland, its lanes thick with flowers. The small farms have all gone and so have the busy village communities. The lanes are too narrow for modern-day agricultural machinery that thunders through more open country. Traffic danger in the Donheads is in the speeding motor bike or young idiot in a new car or the odd bus-load of the aged and infirm being taken to their granny-clubs in Salisbury. At weekends of course the rich come rolling down from London in huge cars full of provisions bought in metropolitan farmers’ markets. These people make few friends in their second homes, unless they have connections to the great houses that still stand silent in their parks, still have a butler and are owned by usually-absent celebrities. There is a lack of any knock-about young.
Which makes the place attractive to the retired rich, professional classes. There is a wide scattering of lawyers who had the wit to snap up a property here years ago. Their children try not to show their anxiety that the agues of years will cause the old things to be taken into Care Homes and their houses pounced upon by the Inland Revenue.”


Jane Gardam (Coatham, 11 juli 1928)