‘She didn’t feel comfortable with words. She was a poet and a painter.’

Collection of classic paintings, prints, newsprint, drawings, records, music and sound by a variety of artists and writers, including Eileen Levin (1881-1938) and Marshall McLuhan (1910-97).

Friesen, Heidelberg Roméo (1873-1957) edited a biographical account of her father; either by hand or in her diary she also set down other biographical details. These biographical elements contribute to two important effects. One is a narrative account of Thèse and of her life as a writer and a literary critic, as well as to the overall impression of her life and artistic work. The other is a more abstract account of a writer’s life as she made sense of her father’s story.

The authors are trying to determine not only what the facts are of my mother’s life, but also what aspects of it most affect her art. The previous questions are undertaken when Mrs. Friesen wants to let go of the facts about her father that may have impeded the creation of her art. One especially interesting section of her books is devoted to attempting to unpick the different aspects of her father’s life that may be a positive or negative influence on her art.

Q: Why did you choose to come to New York and become a writer?

She did not view herself as a writer, as, perhaps, some writers would do. Though she considered herself a journalist, she did not read as a journalist. Thèse never felt comfortable with words. She was a poet and a painter. My mother didn’t begin to write for the literature of her journal when she arrived in New York. She worked at various writing jobs for a number of years before she eventually came to discover that there was a prize–$10,000–worth of work to be created. In 1952 she and Thomas showed some of their earliest works to William Strunk, Jr., and Heinemann bibliographers, who were then quite new to the journal and the project of making a full manuscript, large enough to hold, of a journal of Russian poetry.

Q: Did you know your mother?

While I’m quite sure that she knew my father, I don’t think she knew my mother. They certainly didn’t interact, and I suspect that it was perhaps a misunderstanding. More than once we thought that they might meet but didn’t. There was one occasion when Téa came to stay with us in England but later sent it back because she couldn’t get into the same room as my grandmother.

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