Blake Morrison, And When Did You Last See Your Father?
London: Granta Publications, 1995
Blake Morrison, Things My Mother Never Told Me
London: Chatto and Windus, 2002
It is unusual for an author to write companion volumes of memoir about both his father and his mother. Neither parent was a literary or public figure unlike the four generations of Waugh writers whose lives and work were explored in the family memoir Fathers and Sons by Alexander Waugh.
So how does Blake Morrison elevate his portrait of a marriage between two medical professionals - he himself states the subject matter is not ‘earth shattering’ - into the realm of literary memoir? The first book, And When Did You See Your father? was award-winning and adapted into a high budget British feature film and the second was shortlisted for the WH Smith biography and autobiography awards. The answer lies in the fascinating blend of personal memoir and Morrison’s reflections on the dilemmas and challenges of writing biography which really gains momentum when he discusses his discovery of his parents’ love letters in Things My Mother Never Told Me.