Graham Greene: Real Aunt>Fictional 'Aunt'

Quite a time ago (In fact it was so long ago that I might not get the details exactly right) I read Graham Greene's well known work Travels with my Aunt
Travels with my Aunt
OK read, but I didn't like the idea that becoming a drugs dealer somehow expanded Henry Pulling's world
. It was an entertaining read, but the more I thought about it, the more one part the plot bothered me. The main character Henry Pulling was a retired bank manager, whose 'aunt' takes him on an adventurous journey. If I remember correctly, he ends up joining her in an illegal drug producing operation in the South American jungle. Now it was written at a time when drugs were possibly seen as less of a threat to society than at present, but that isn't really the point. I felt that the message was supposed to be one of how he had his horizons expanded, but to me it didn't seem like that at all. Rather, becoming part of an illegal operation was a severe restriction on his freedom of activity. Just because he ended up far from home didn't mean that his life was going to be exciting from then on. Even his marriage seemed to be more of an arranged marriage to a young girl than a love match. I thought it would have been better if he had returned home, with his adventures giving him a new perspective on life.

Many years later I read Freakonomics
Drug dealing isn't all it's cracked up to be
, also an entertaining read, and having read the chapter Why most drug dealers live with their Moms I saw a link to Graham Greene's book. Drug dealing and other illegal activities may look exciting from the outside, and for those at the top they may well be, but for most of the participants they are likely to be more humdrum than the lives of the rest of us.

So lets get to a book which is one of my favorites. Period Piece
Period Piece
One of my favourite books, although Gwen's life must have been tedious at times.
by Gwen Raverat. Gwen was Charles Darwin's granddaughter, and this book tells the story of her childhood in the Edwardian era. It's lovely to read, but on gets the impression that Gwen's childhood wasn't so idyllic as it might appear at first sight. Rather than going to school she was educated by a series of governesses until the age of 16. Her parents didn't even think of the obvious option of sharing lessons with her nearby cousins. Her brother Charles went to school, and in later life did important work in quantum theory (but I bet he was irritated at being known as 'the grandson of the real Darwin'). Gwen, however, found being cooped up at home very tedious. The one thing that made it bearable was Miss Mary Greene's Wednesday Drawing Class. It was such fun, her cousins were there too and they did exciting things such as exploring the cellars of the Cast Musteum with a box of matches.

What I didn't realise until I read the biography Gwen Raverat
Gwen Raverat
I decided to read about Gwen's later life and found some interesting connections
by Frances Spalding was that Gwen's art teacher Miss Greene was is fact Graham Greene's aunt. It seems that he thought of her as rather a silly old woman. Now it may well be that her class did once get locked into the Round Tower with a lunatic, but I can't agree with his thought. She was clearly a very inspirational teacher, and Gwen went on to a career as an artist. Not only that, Mary Greene also played an important part in campaigning for more eductation for women in Cambridge and beyond. I think that beats being a drug dealer any day!

Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2016