The Fictional Avatars of Mrs W: The Influence of the Adoptive Mother and the Birth of Jeanette Winterson as a Writer

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Abstract

Throughout her writing career, Jeanette Winterson has experimented with her life experience, revisiting in particular the complex relationship with her adoptive mother, Mrs W, in such works as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), Sexing the Cherry (1989), and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal (2011). This article examines the complex mother-daughter relationship between Jeanette and Mrs W to illustrate the birth of a feminist writer. In answer to her mother’s confiscation of her birth narrative, Jeanette Winterson has fictionalized Mrs W to alter traditional narrative paradigms she deemed repressive. The process has allowed the daughter to open up an enunciative space for herself through performative utterances: “I’m telling you stories. Trust me.” Finally, the parallel drawn between Mrs Winterson and Mrs Thatcher in the former’s fictional avatars highlights specifically the personal political itinerary of the feminist writer.

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