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My father's suicide


My mother and a cultural education
Brian Sewell Writer
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It was... it was a very good education. I knew about Roman myths and legends. I knew about the Argonauts. I knew about all sorts of basic things in our cultural backgrounds. The things on which literature and art are based. And then, when I did eventually get to school, of course, I couldn’t add two and two together.

[Q]  Can you say a bit more about your mother? I mean, how did she come to know that… or believe that this was the way to bring you up? Didn’t she have to go to work or anything? I mean…

I… no, I think there was a tiny stipend from my grandmother. My father’s mother. My father went to Eton and left at the age of 16, having had some fairly conventional, but nevertheless ghastly, experiences at the hands of other boys. And I think my mother may have been influenced by that. She was educated at home. Her father was quite well off, had a house in Fitzjohns Avenue. And, like many women of her age and class, there was no question of going to school. You had… I’ve forgotten what they’re called… tutors. What’s the word?

[Q] Governess?

Governess. Or governesses. So she was educated in the conventions of the day.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Eton College, Argonauts, Mary Jessica Perkins

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012