The author Julie Myerson last night confessed to being the anonymous writer of a national newspaper column in which she recounted her life with her teenage children.
The 48-year-old author admitted she had been responsible for the Living With Teenagers column, which ran for two years in The Guardian and documented her children's embarrassing foibles. Myerson turned the columns into a bestselling book last year called Living with Teenagers: 3 Kids, 2 Parents, 1 Hell of a Bumpy Ride.
Last week, the author was embroiled in a public family row after her eldest son Jake, now 20, became enraged by his portrayal in her new book, The Lost Child, in which she describes how she and her husband threw him out of the house and changed the locks after he refused to curb his cannabis habit.
In interviews, he called his parents "naïve people" who were "slightly insane" and said he had been misrepresented as a drug addict. He accused his mother of "taking the very worst years" from his life and trying to turn them into a "work of art".
Myerson's husband, Jonathan, wrote his own intimate account of life in the household yesterday. He said the decision he and his wife made to write about their children was justified as it would alert people to the evils of cannabis use among teenagers.
"There is a glass-fronted box in the corner of every writer's room protecting the real lives of their children: Smash Only In Case Of Emergency."
In a statement yesterday, Julie Myerson said: "I wrote Living with Teenagers. I did so anonymously because I wanted to write truthfully, and that meant my children's identities had to be obscured.
"I never imagined at the outset that I would write more than a dozen or so columns but I continued for two years – through some very dark days – because of the support and appreciation I received from so many readers.
"Although the aim of the column was to offer an honest picture of family life, some incidents were partly fictionalised, some details carefully rearranged and some characters composites, to conceal the identity of our children," she said.
"To me, Living with Teenagers and The Lost Child are very different... one a collection of affectionate vignettes that I hoped would strike a chord with many parents, and the other a serious description of what happens when skunk cannabis bursts into a home."
The columns, which began in 2006, proved popular with readers due to the writer's unflinchingly honest portrayal of life with adolescents.
They detailed her children's numerous temper tantrums and displays of teenage petulance and covered in detail the problems that each of them faced with their bodies as they negotiated puberty. Last night, The Guardian removed the columns from its website, saying it wanted to protect the privacy of the Myerson children.
On the weekend, Ms Myerson said that she didn't want to "get into a war of words" with her son but after reading the comments he had made, she had felt obliged to defend her decision to throw him out of the house when he was aged 17 and then write about it.
In a newspaper interview, Myerson said in her relationship with her son had degenerated to the point where he would "lie in bed till five... get up, roll a spliff, make a coffee and go outside".
She and her husband decided to remove him from the house after he hit her and she had to go to hospital.
She said she still loved her son and regretted that he had been unwillingly dragged into the public eye: "I hate him having to deal with this. But I've done it to him. It's my fault."
The Lost Child had been scheduled for release in May but following the controversy, its publishers, Bloomsbury, decided to make the book available in the next few days.
Jake Myerson refused to comment when he was contacted last night.Reuse content