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Highgate journalist Barber hopes for Bafta glory

PUBLISHED: 11:43 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 07 September 2010

Highgate journalist Lynn Barber will be at the Baftas on Sunday – to see if the acclaimed film based on her memoirs wins any of its eight nominations. The 65-year-old is no stranger to award ceremonies or controversy. She has won five Bri

Charlotte Newton

Highgate journalist Lynn Barber will be at the Baftas on Sunday - to see if the acclaimed film based on her memoirs wins any of its eight nominations.

The 65-year-old is no stranger to award ceremonies or controversy. She has won five British press awards, published several books - including How To Improve Your Man in Bed - and judged the Turner Prize.

But it was an account of her schoolgirl affair with a conman more than twice her age which has propelled her from the pinnacle of the newspaper world into the cinematic spotlight.

Ms Barber first published An Education - the extraordinary tale of her two-year affair with a conman called Simon - in the British literary magazine Granta in 2003.

Author Nick Hornby and his wife Amanda Posey then adapted it into a film, released last October.

Carey Mulligan has been nominated for a Bafta and an Oscar for her role as the young Ms Barber, renamed Jenny.

"It's got three Oscar nominations and eight Bafta nominations - so it's done well," said Ms Barber. "Carey Mulligan is a very good actress. Nick Hornby is nominated for best screen adaptation and the producers are nominated for best film.

"I've seen it four times and I enjoyed it every time. I don't think I've ever seen a film four times before."

Both the film and Ms Barber's memoirs, published in full last year, document how meeting Simon turned her world upside down.

From a young age, her parents had instilled in her the importance of an education. She was sent to elocution lessons by her mother and her father encouraged her to set her sights on Oxford University. But all that changed when Simon appeared on the scene.

She went from being an academic teenager at an independent girls' school in Twickenham to a young woman who was whisked off on mini-breaks to Paris.

"I think I just craved excitement," Ms Barber said. "I was quite bored with Twickenham and my parents, of being this very swotty girl. It also seemed very exotic that Simon was Jewish. It certainly felt different to Twickenham."

When Simon propoased, her parents' views dramatically changed and, far from encouraging her to strive for her place at Oxford, they suggested that marrying him would be a more suitable course in life.

Far from being a talented property developer, Simon was a crook who stole from an old lady and used fraudulent cheques.

But it was only after accepting his engagement and dropping out of school, that the young Ms Barber discovered he was married with children.

The experience did not hold her life back, however, as she went on to resit her A-levels and later studied at Oxford. She became one of the country's most successful journalists, writing for national newspapers including The Observer and The Sunday Times.

Most significantly, she enjoyed a happy marriage with the "love of her life" David.

However, it did irrevocably change her relationship with her parents. "I do still feel some resentment that they didn't try to check him out more than they did and they were happy for me to marry this dodgy man," she said.

For the full interview with Lynn Barber, see next week's etcetera.

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