There is a problem for the writer who decides to write his or her autobiography; and it is one that I have had to make a decision about. I know who I am when I am being myself in my day to day existence; I know who I am when I am writing and publishing my work.
But who am I when the two collide? In fact, whose name will appear on the cover?
Finally, I decided that I must emerge from my concealing curtain—my pen-name—and face the fact that Barbara Yates Rothwell could not have written this ‘Fragment’ without Hebe Morgan.
So I am happy to combine my two lives for once, and let the reader in on the secret. I have been Hebe for 85 years; and I have been Barbara for about 50 of those years. The two of us get on quite well: Hebe makes the beds and the coffee while Barbara gets to the computer. Hebe was married for 59 years to Dr Derek Moore Morgan, and looked after the family; Barbara, meanwhile, managed to establish her writing career.
Looking back, I think both of me were quite successful at what we took on!
You may wonder what the point is in having a pen-name. People have often asked me this, and some have thought it was not sensible to try to make a name for oneself as a writer by using another name. The reasons will be as many as the people who choose to do this. In my case, I found it released me from thinking too conventionally. As we now say, it permitted me to think ‘outside the square’. Being a wife and mother is wonderful, but it can tend to make one think along very straight lines. A fiction writer needs to be able think freely, to analyse characters, to imagine lives that perhaps have nothing to do with the author’s daily existence. I found it very helpful.
However you think of me, whichever hat I wear for you, I hope you will enjoy journeying with me for a little while as I explore my own ‘fragment of life’.