“And what I’ve learned, and maybe she taught me, is that you don’t put yourself into what you write. You find yourself there.” Alan Bennett .
This brilliant insight comes from the British playwright, author, actor as he recounts the mostly true tale of Mary Shepherd, who lived in a van on his driveway in North London for 15 years.
The book, stage play and 2015 film, starring Dame Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, documents the friendship of the author with Shepherd, a woman he met as she sold pencils on a street corner.
This cantankerous 60 year old vagrant, former music prodigy, nun, victim of institutionalization and blackmail was an inspiration to Bennett until her death in 1989.
The quote stopped me in my tracks, forced me to rewind.
It spoke to the truth of self discovery, all from the exercise of writing.
A fantastic quote, and very on point. 🙂
It surely is, Brenda. Thanks.
Mm, very nice. Yes, I agree. Also, I feel I must see this movie. Thanks!
I just stumbled upon it, Joey. It’s really good.
For sure. Thanks, Cathi.
I love this film. Alan Bennet …and Maggie Smith…capture something very special with their portrayals of Mary Shepherd.
This was new to me, Sue. I read that she played the part in his stage play. Brilliant portrayal. And she mentioned she loved going to work without makeup.
Bennet is one of our national treasures, I think… and so is Maggie Smith 🙂
Ah the man is a genius. A curmudgeon himself but fabulous none the less. Indeed he was brilliant as far back at the early 60s as a student working with Peter Cook. Have you seen this?
No, I hadn’t. But knickers does begin with a K…funny stuff. Thanks for the link, Geoff. Using the phone…great comic device.
A fabulous quote. I loved the movie with Maggie Smith. She is such a great actress and the story is so poignant yet so uplifting. Class. 🌼
So very much class, Brigid. She is a special one.
Dame Maggie at her cantankerous best. I did a review on this in May last year. If I may?
Thanks for the link, Di. I agree with so many of your thoughts on the review, especially the sad reality of the life that she might have had. And..that piano scene. Poignant.
Sounds like a movie I want to see now.
It’s bittersweet, with a lot of humor, Michele.
Well, I did it, I watched the movie. Two very intriguing characters- as the playwright is just as interesting as the Lady!
Absolutely, he is brilliant, and the story is told in his most interesting voice.
Wow this is wonderful! I also love the quote
It kind of grabbed me, Lynn. Glad you can relate.
What an amazing relationship and story, and quite an insightful quote. Thanks for sharing, Van. ❤
Most welcome, D.
OMG…that is so true! I loved that movie and now I love that quote. Thank you, Van! 🌷Christine
I didn’t know of the movie or the play until this past weekend, Christine. The quote stood out for me.
Love, love this quote, Van! Thank you for sharing it with us.
My pleasure, George. It made sense to me.
Brilliant and it does grab you by the throat. Thanks!
Glad you agree. Thanks, Maggie.
I live, in that quote.
Somehow, I understand that, C. Thanks.
SUCH a good & poignant film; as usual Maggie is amazing
I’ve loved her since Miss Jane Brodie. Thanks for the visit and comment.
What a wonderful and insightful quote.It made me stop and think again. I certainly have to watch the movie.
I think you’ll enjoy it, J.
The streets and the people that survive on them offer as much in the way of an education as the Ivy League schools. The biggest difference is most people can’t AFFORD the education the STREETS offer!!
Real. True. Thank you, Doc.
I thought so too. Thanks, Bobbi.
Nodding my head … Its one to pause with.
Isn’t it though ??
I love the quote! There are many sides to life that we haven’t yet discovered. Taking time to step back and rediscover our role in life can be a move in the right direction. Too often we don’t take the time to look at another side other than our own.
The author’s situation was quite an eye opener. There was a contrast in his relationship with his “two old women”…the other being his mother, who suffers from dementia.
Wow, so true. Thanks for sharing this one, Van.
True, for sure, Julie. Most welcome.
I’ve not watched the movie, but it’s waiting for me as I recorded it a few weeks ago. Such a fabulous quote, Van. One, too, that I shall remember and work to.
I’ve been told that Bennett, like Maggie Smith, is a national treasure in the UK. I can see why, Hugh.
He is, Van. Many years ago he did a series of half-hour plays called Talking Heads which was screened on T.V. My favourite was called ‘A Cram Cracker Under The Settee.’ It stared the actress Thora Hird. If you ever get the chance to see it, I’d recommend it.
Thank you for the post, Van. Now I’ll look for the film.
It seems that there is always a story behind homelessness, Rob. Hers is unique.
Whoa like you this quote stopped me short. I thought. And I reread the words. And I thought some more. And then wow, yes how true this is! I am finding myself as I write. How powerful that my words I form, form ME. And another movie I must see!! When I chill it’s either with a good book, my knitting, or a good movie. Thank you for this post, Van! It was so needed by me right now. 🤗
There are 2 versions of the playwright…the one who lives, and the one who writes. They talk to each other. Interesting. I think you’ll enjoy it, Amy.
I thought there was going to be a photo of the blog host with the van – lol –
and such a meaty quote….
Ha ha…with a blog name like this, I should have considered that. Thanks.
Like all good writers, Bennet hit the nail on the head. We do find ourselves in writing and often we lose ourselves to it. I have been writing in order to find bits of me that went missing down the years. And am still doing so.
It was such an insightful line in the dialog (with himself), it caught me off guard, I had to rewind to hear it again. Thanks, Mike, good luck on your journey of self-discovery.
Van, if I may be so bold, could you visit my not very organised blog to cast an opinion on my work?
Would be happy to, Mike.
Oh Van I am way way behind your posts but hope to put that right, right now.. Is doesn’t seem that long I was breaking egg shells with you lol..
The film I went to see when it hit the British Cinema screens, I went with my hubby and loved every moment of it.. Alan Bennet such an excellent writer, full of humour and Maggie Smith who at the age of 82 now, don’t know her age then, but, is still active in acting I believe..
Not many people such as Alan Bennet would allow someone who is homeless apart from her van to live on their drive for all of those years..
A remarkable True story.. And the real Mary Shepherd must have been one remarkable lady.. 🙂
Such an interesting chemistry between the two of them, it was brilliant to put it in writing. No worries on reading the posts. I don’t know how folks keep up with this stuff sometimes. Thanks, Sue.
I know, I bite off more than I can comfortably chew at times as they say.. But I so enjoy my visits here Van, And thank you for the reminder of this good film again.
(To park her van.).. Don’t you just so dislike predictive text when it gets it wrong.. LOL ..
I was certain that is what you meant.