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Fay Weldon

Fay Weldon CBE (born 22 September 1931) is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of western, and in particular British, society.



Weldon was born Franklin Birkinshaw in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, England to a literary family, with both her maternal grandfather, Edgar Jepson (1863–1938), and her mother Margaret writing novels (the latter under the nom de plume Pearl Bellairs, alter-ego of the eponymous character in Aldous Huxley's short story, "Farcical History of Richard Greenow"). Weldon spent her early years in Auckland, New Zealand, where her father worked as a doctor. At the age of 14, after her parents' divorce, she returned to England with her mother and her sister Jane – never to see her father again. While in England she attended South Hampstead High School.

She read psychology and economics at St Andrews, Scotland but moved to London after giving birth to a son. Soon afterwards she married her first husband, Ronald Bateman, who was a headmaster 25 years her senior[1] and not the natural father of her child, and moved to Acton, London. She left him after two years, and the marriage ended.[1]

In order to support herself and her son, and provide for his education, Weldon started working in the advertising industry. As Head of Copywriting at one point she was responsible for publicising the phrase "Go to work on an egg". She once coined the slogan "Vodka gets you drunker quicker". She said in a Guardian interview[2] "It just seemed ... to be obvious that people who wanted to get drunk fast, needed to know this." Her bosses disagreed and suppressed it.

At 29 she met Ron Weldon, a jazz musician and antiques dealer.[3] They married and had three sons, the first of whom was born in 1963. It was during her second pregnancy that Weldon began writing for radio and television. A few years later, in 1967, she published her first novel, The Fat Woman's Joke. For the next 30 years she built a very successful career, publishing over twenty novels, collections of short stories, films for television, newspaper and magazine articles and becoming a well-known face and voice on the BBC. In 1971 Weldon wrote the first episode of the landmark television series Upstairs, Downstairs, for which she won a Writers Guild award for Best British TV Series Script. She also wrote the screenplay for the 1980 BBC miniseries adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. In 1989, she contributed to the book for the Petula Clark West End musical Someone Like You. In a 1998 interview for the Radio Times she claimed rape "isn't the worst thing that can happen to a woman if you're safe, alive and unmarked after the event."[4] She was roundly condemned by feminists for this assertion.

In 2000 Weldon became a member of the Church of England and was confirmed in St Paul's Cathedral, which was perhaps appropriate because she states that she likes to think that she was "converted by St Paul".[5]

In 2006 Weldon was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University in West London: “A great writer needs a certain personality and a natural talent for language, but there is a great deal that can be taught – how to put words together quickly and efficiently to make a point, how to be graceful and eloquent, how to convey emotion, how to build up tension, and how to create alternative worlds.”

During her marriage to Ron Weldon, the couple visited therapists regularly. They divorced in 1994, after he left her for his astrological therapist who had told him that the couple's astrological signs were incompatible.[1] She subsequently married Nick Fox, a poet who is also her manager, with whom she currently lives in Dorset.[1][3]

Weldon serves together with Daniel Pipes as the most notable foreign members of the board of the Danish Press Freedom Society (Trykkefrihedsselskabet).


  • The Fat Woman's Joke (1967)
  • Down Among the Women (1971)
  • Female Friends (1975)
  • Remember Me (1976)
  • Little Sisters (1977)
  • Praxis (1978)
  • Puffball (1980)
  • The President's Child (1982)
  • The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983)
  • Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen (1984)
  • The Shrapnel Academy (1986)
  • The Heart of the Country (1987)
  • The Hearts and Lives of Men (1987)
  • Leader of the Band (1988)
  • The Cloning of Joanna May (1989)
  • Darcy's Utopia (1990)
  • Affliction (1994)
  • Growing Rich (1992)
  • Life Force (1992)
  • Splitting (1995)
  • Worst Fears (1996)
  • Big Women (1997)
  • My Mother said (1998)
  • Rhode Island Blues (2000)
  • The Bulgari Connection (2001)
  • Mantrapped (2004)
  • She May Not Leave (2006)
  • The Spa Decameron (2007)
  • The Stepmother's Diary (2008)
  • Chalcot Crescent (2009)

Weldon published an autobiography of her early years, Auto de Fay (an allusion to auto de fe), in 2002.



  • My mother said (1998)

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Fay Weldon, CBE (born Franklin Birkinshaw on 1931-09-22) is an English novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. Her best-known work may be her novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, filmed as She-Devil.


  • Go to work on an egg.
    • Advertising slogan originated by the Mather & Crowther agency for the British Egg Marketing Board, and used from 1957. [1]
    • Fay Weldon wrote to Nigel Rees in 1981: "I was certainly in charge of copy [at Mather & Crowther] at the time…Who invented it, it would be hard to say. It is perfectly possible, indeed probable, that I put those six particular words together in that particular order but I would not swear to it." (The "Quote…Unquote" Newsletter, July 1992, p. 2).
  • Fortunately, there is more to life than death. There is for one thing, fiction. A thousand thousand characters to be sent marching out into the world to divert time from its forward gallop to the terrible horizon.
    • Down Among the Women (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1971] 1973) p. 172.
  • The New Women! I could barely recognize them as being of the same sex as myself…They are satiated by everything, hungry for nothing. They are what I wanted to be; they are what I worked for them to be: and now I see them, I hate them.
    • Praxis (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978) p. 9.
  • Young women especially have something invested in being nice people, and it's only when you have children that you realise you’re not a nice person at all, but generally a selfish bully.
  • Widows tend either to fade away when husbands die, committing emotional suttee, or else find that a new life burgeons. Here in Christchurch, a lot of burgeoning goes on.
  • I like sex. I've had feedback but men will feed you back anything, won't they?
    • "This much I know: Fay Weldon", The Observer Magazine, August 30, 2009.
  • One sort of believes in recycling. But one believes in it as a kind of palliative to the gods.
    • "This much I know: Fay Weldon", The Observer Magazine, August 30, 2009.

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