Saturday, January 19, 2013

BBC adapts Janet Frame's autobiography

by Janet Frame
Vrago Modern Classic
"One of the great autobiographies of the twentieth century"
(Michael Holroyd)

Two more days to listen to Episode 1 of the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiography, An Angel at My Table, at this link:

Episode 1 will also be broadcast again and live streamed 9 pm tonight UK time 19th January 2013 (10 am Sunday morning 20th January 2013 New Zealand time), at this link:

Then Episode 2 will be broadcast Sunday 20th January 2013 at 3 pm (UK time), and available online for the following week.

After being misdiagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman, Janet Frame spent several years in psychiatric institutions. She escaped undergoing a lobotomy when it was discovered that she had just won a national literary prize. She then went on to become New Zealand's most acclaimed writer. As she says more than once in this autobiography: 'My writing saved me.'

'One of the great autobiographies of the twentieth century ... A journey from luminous childhood, through the dark experiences of supposed madness, to the renewal of her life through writing fiction. It is a heroic story, and told with such engaging tone, humorous perspective and imaginative power' 
~ Michael Holroyd, Sunday Times

'One of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read . . . A masterpiece . . . Janet's autobiography had an enormous effect on me. She struck a blow right to my heart'
~ Jane Campion

‘Janet Frame’s luminous words are the more precious because they were snatched from the jaws of the disaster of her early life. It is one of the classics of autobiography.’
~ Hilary Mantel


Anonymous said...

I was delighted to hear this on BBC Radio this week. But I did wonder if the actress Lorraine Ashbourne is a New Zealander or not. Do you know? I found her accent off putting and for me it distracted from the otherwise good production. Its hard to believe that they wouldn't choose New Zealander to portray such an important role. I hope I'm wrong.

Pamela Gordon said...

To the anonymous commenter: The role of Janet Frame is indeed important, and Lorraine Ashbourne was an inspired choice to play her; she has delivered a moving and nuanced portrait of Janet Frame that in my opinion is very faithful to the spirit of Janet Frame's origioriginal text (her 3 volume autobiography AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE). Lorraine Ashbourne is not in fact a New Zealander, but she knows Frame's work well, and that matters more than being able to ape accurately a stereotyped Kiwi accent. I would prefer to hear Frame's single-minded courage, her clear-sighted persistence and ambition and self-directed achievements recounted with her characteristic wry humour and sly wisdom in an accent that slightly misfires rather than have to cringe at a myth-riddled and patronising characterisation of Frame, misrepresenting her as some sort of feral recluse scared of her own shadow, delivered with a perfect New Zild twang.