5 speakers 15 minutes each

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England, and adopted by Pentecostal parents who brought her up in the nearby mill-town of Accrington. As a Northern working class girl she was not encouraged to be clever. Her adopted father was a factory worker, her mother stayed at home. There were only six books in the house, including the Bible and Cruden's Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testaments. Strangely, one of the other books was Malory's Morte d'Arthur, and it was this that started her life quest of reading and writing. The house had no bathroom either, which was fortunate because it meant that Jeanette could read her books by flashlight in the outside toilet. Reading was not much approved unless it was the Bible. Her parents intended her for the missionary field. Schooling was erratic but Jeanette had got herself into a girl's grammar school and later she read English at Oxford University. This was not an easy transition. Jeanette had left home at 16 after falling in love with another girl. While she took her A levels she lived in various places, supporting herself by evening and weekend work. In a year off to earn money, she worked as a domestic in a lunatic asylum.