Who am I ?


Who am I

Self identity with the subject of one’s biography is, as Richard Holmes famously wrote, the first crime of the biographer. That’s okay then…No one is ever going to confuse me with Wallis Simpson and yet, working with a new website designer is forcing me to think closely – Who am I? How do I want people who do not know me to think of me? All of this is horribly introspective but necessary, I am told. When strangers look at the opening page of my website they need to feel welcomed, intrigued. I have a few seconds to engage them. How do I do that? For the last few years I have been constantly thinking about image as I contemplate the way Wallis Simpson has been portrayed in the 75 years since the Abdication. My new book may not change many people’s perceptions of her but the weight of the establishment has been so heavily against her that I cannot help but question whether all of the hatred and disgust, mostly from people who never knew her, was deserved. If she had looked dowdy, frumpy or fat would she have seemed more appealing? Did the glamour, sparkling jewels and elegant clothes act as a barrier to trust? What subliminal message do we all give from the clothes we wear and the colour of our nails? Perhaps, like Wallis, I should spend more time thinking about this. On the other hand perhaps I have better things to do.