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04-Nov-2017 04:59

Here, f’rinstance, are a few recent examples of novels with a rounded, authentic, older female protagonist: – Hilary Boyd: , co-written with Barbara Roddam (Boyd specialises in the possibility of romantic relationships for older women, but – sadly, in my view – has got labelled with the ugly term ‘grannylit’). In 2010, just before Mothers’ Day, Carol Ann Duffy commissioned poets to write with sensitivity about age and ageing.

The results are wonderful, for instance Gillian Clarke’s poem : ‘You found them, lovely, silky, dangerous, their lapis lazulis, their indigoes tide-marked and freckled with the rose of death, beautiful in decline. Touch mine.’ Other poems are by Ruth Fainlight; and many more.

Lest we become sexist about this, male creatives can be enlightened and nuanced about older women, too.

Meanwhile in literature and art the caricaturing, stereotyping, pigeonholing and sidelining of older people persists.

by Emine Saner in 2008 spotlights Paula Rego, Gillian Ayres, Ana Maria Pacheco Maria Lassnig, then 89 (who, like me, never married or had children) and Natalie d’Arbeloff.