Germaine Greer: ‘Rainforest book helped heal relationship with my sister’


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The Independent Culture

Germaine Greer says her latest book has helped repair her relationship with her sister – who for years thought the feminist thinker “didn’t respect her”.

Greer, 75, was speaking at The Independent Bath Literature Festival about White Beech: The Rainforest Years, which explores the writer’s battle to tame a 60-hectare plot of land in her Australian homeland.

The relationship with her botanist sister, Jane, who is six years younger and was involved in her project, is a theme that runs through the book.

“She would get very pissed off with me really because it seemed I was always trying to prove my own superiority,” Greer said. “She thought I got involved with botany to show her I was better at botany than she was. Whereas I took up botany so I could know how good she was, but her mind didn’t work that way.”

Yet the book changed their relationship. “I think my sister was really touched when she read the book because one of her problems was she thought I didn’t respect her. I think this is because I can be quite terse,” the author said. She added that her sister was the person “I love most in the world”.

“But now she’s read the book, she’s understood something about how I feel about her.”

Greer came to prominence as a feminist after the publication of The Female Eunuch in 1970. She is also a committed environmentalist and White Beech has been described as her “most personal book yet”.