Jill Tweedie: a woman of sparkling wit
Sunday 14 November 1993
Jill Tweedie joined the Guardian from the Sunday Telegraph in 1969. The timing was perfect. The first bras were about to be burnt in New York and in London, the Guardian's women's page needed to move on from the minority concerns of bored graduate housewives.
She seized the moment. By the time I joined the paper in 1971, Jill Tweedie was a star. She may have written only once a week on a Monday but nevertheless she was the Guardian's women's page. Both she and her prose sparkled. She would swan into the office on a Friday, all long skirts and laughter and stay but briefly. Office life was not for her. Discussions took place in the pub opposite.
Her confidence in her views was enviable. She was older than most of us and she had lived. And suffered. Her unhappy middle-class childhood, her ghastly marriage to a Hungarian count who abducted her children, and her hippie years all seeped into her writing. No desire for privacy here; she was happy to bare her soul.
Beneath all this was a woman who constantly needed a mass of both professional and private support. Private stability she found in her marriage to Alan Brien, but still she needed the support of her women friends. When invited to a party outside her milieu she would cajole one to go with her. Professionally she needed nurturing and, at times, nannying. She has said that her happiest time was at the Sunday Telegraph where the women's editor 'mothered' her writers.
When I became the editor of the women's page in 1973, I was determined to get rid of the ghetto by changing the name of the page, by widening the agenda and by welcoming contributions from men. I invited the late James Cameron to write on alternate Mondays to Jill, who by then wanted more time for other writing.
Jill winced when she saw the male bylines increasing. She invited me to a 'party' which turned out to be a kangaroo court attended by a group of her women friends who accused me of being a misogynist. The logic of equality defeated them. It was almost amusing. Ironically, in recent years she longed to move from the women's page and be seen as a general columnist. A move to the Independent was short-lived.
In the end she expressed disappointment with her career, even though she had written books as well as non-fiction, and unhappiness that editors were inevitably seeking a younger voice.
Her reaction to her illness, motor neurone disease, discovered four months ago, was in character. Not for her the stance of the stoic. She railed against her misfortune and relied once again upon the support of her friends who this weekend are adjusting to the loss of an exceptional woman.
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...