Old London Bridge c1710Polack, Joel Samuel, 1807-1882 :Kororareka, Bay of Islands, New Zealand


Barbara Ewing



Thursday 7th February 1951

I was having a wash this morning when Mum came in with a funny look on her face. Today is a day that will go down in history. King George VI is dead. There was no school.  We went swimming at Days Bay and Vivian Hibberd smoked!!!

Barbara Ewing















 That says it all really.

I lived on the other side of the world -  swimming in February -  but New Zealand was still, then, so much part of the British Empire that schools were closed when the Monarch (our Monarch) died.  And smoking was "common"!

So when, while I was at University (I have a BA degree in English and Maori), I showed talent as a young actress, I was sent on a Government Bursary to – of course - the centre of that British Empire: to London. And I became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was told I had a funny accent, and watched in disbelief as my toothbrush froze in the bathroom in my rented accommodation. I determined to go home immediately my course ended.  But I won the gold medal for the best student and got offered Tennessee Williams plays, and a lead in a horror film, so I thought I’d stay for a few months  - and ended up years later in the TV award-winning “Brass”  playing Agnes Fairchild  with the biggest (false) bosom you can imagine…

And here I am: an ‘older actress’ (where the parts are so much harder to come by), working at that other thing I've always  cared about (starting with those old diaries): writing.

My books have been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Turkish, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Russian and Portuguese. 'A Dangerous Vine' was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and 'The Mesmerist' was chosen by the Westminster Libraries in central London as their 'read of the year. 

Lucky me: two careers and two countries.






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