Partners in crime

Wives, husbands, spouses, lovers, partners, life companions, romantic friends… Call it what you will, but there’s often someone hardworking, level-headed, and reliable behind great writers… like Ms. Ninja. She has a very supportive partner who makes her coffee at 9am, reads her work during the day, and brings her glasses of wine after 9pm, I hear. Now I shall duck and run for cover while you read this article. But seriously: wouldn’t it be great to have someone to do all the domestic and administrative things for you? This is why the rich folk have assistants… It helps them get richer.

Behind so many writers and thinkers, there has been a supporter, editor, typesetter, listener, advisor, child-rearer, cleaner, cook, and lover.

Many writers’ spouses have influenced or made possible the great books we still read today. Some, it’s true, have not been quite so helpful. Below are glimpses of a few relationships, ranging from the indispensable to the disastrous.

In this list you’ll find Georgie Hyde-Lees, the subject of my first novel, More Miracle than Bird. Brilliant and independent, Georgie worked in a war hospital in First World War London, had very unusual ideas about death, and took extraordinary actions to enact those ideas. But the main reason we remember Georgie’s name now is because she ended up marrying one of the most famous poets of the twentieth century, W.B. Yeats. Theirs is one of the strangest love stories I’ve ever heard.

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