In 1976, feminist author Germaine Greer (The Female Eunuch, Sex and Destiny) wrote a 30,000 word love letter to author Martin Amis (The Rachel Papers, Money) that was most likely never sent. She was 37 and he was 26 and they had recently embarked on an affair.
Fast forward to 2013, when Greer sold her papers to the University of Melbourne. Australian academic and journalist Margaret Simons found the notebook among Greer’s papers. From The Guardian:
Simon’s essay on what these letters reveal about one of the most influential feminists pouring out her private thoughts to one of the most gifted novelists of the era will be published in the Australian literary journal Meanjin in December.
But Greer has objected to the notebook being published in book form, even though it was among her personal archives of diaries, manuscripts and letters she handed to the university. She has let it be known that the notebook was never intended for publication and that she is concerned about the privacy of those named in it.
For Simons, the decision is disappointing because the diary has “real literary worth”.
“It’s just a beautiful piece of writing,” she told Guardian Australia. “It sheds light on Greer herself and also on the time she wrote it.
“Amis and Greer were at the centre of the changes that the world was going through and it’s an extraordinary window about what it was like to be alive at that time, as one of the most famous people in the world.”
Though the material would indeed support a fascinating book, Greer has nixed the idea:
Melbourne University Press was keen to release the diary as a slim book. Its executive publisher, Sally Heath, said it had literary and cultural merit but when Greer reread the notebook she went cool on the idea. Greer had a lover while in the US, who is identifiable, and there are others mentioned who could be embarrassed by its contents.
“Once Greer had read it, she said she felt it wasn’t actually written for publication,” Heath said. “While the the university may not need her permission [to publish], if her consent counted for anything she felt it was important for people who were named that she had not given her consent.”
Meanwhile, a lecture Greer had been scheduled to give at Cardiff University went forward, despite the protests of many who are offended by her opinions on transgender. You can read more about that here.