Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs reveals complicated relationship with father in new memoir

Jobs denied Lisa was his daughter and claimed he was 'sterile'

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Friday 03 August 2018 17:35
Steve Jobs - Trailer

Steve Jobs told his daughter she smelled “like a toilet” as he lay dying of cancer – one of a series of startling claims about the Apple founder in her new memoir.

The new book, Small Fry, details the estranged relationship that existed between the tech entrepreneur and his first daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and how she felt towards her father after years of him denying she was his.

Although Jobs eventually acknowledged Brennan-Jobs as his daughter, he maintained a distant and cold relationship towards his eldest child until he died.

In an excerpt of the book published in Vanity Fair, Brennan-Jobs recalls how Jobs told her while he was dying of pancreatic cancer that the rose-scented spray she’d sprayed on herself made her smell like a toilet.

The tech entrepreneur’s brutal honesty was a common occurrence when he spoke to his daughter, a quality of their relationship that Brennan-Jobs believes stemmed from his shame over her birth.

“You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing,” Jobs once told her when she’d enquired whether she could have his Porsche when he was done with it.

Brennan-Jobs was born to the Apple founder and Chrisann Brennan in 1978 after the couple had dated for five years, however, they parted ways when Brennan became pregnant.

A later court-ordered paternity test confirmed that Jobs was her father, yet he refused to accept it.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs was born in 1978

Jobs, who died in 2011, went as far as to claim he was “sterile and infertile”, until finally reconciling with his daughter when she was nine years old. Jobs later went on to have three more children with his wife Laurene Powell.

Although he apologised for his absence, Brennan-Jobs wrote that the relationship was always strained, consisting of short visits where the pair would roller skate amid “long pauses” in conversation.

“For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light,” she wrote in the memoir.

Jobs also repeatedly denied that his daughter’s name was the reason for The Lisa, one of Apple’s first personal computers.

Brennan-Jobs remembers asking her genius father in high school whether the computer was named for her – to which he responded “Nope. Sorry, kid.”

It wasn’t until she was 27 that Jobs acknowledged the role his daughter’s name had played in Apple’s history – when Bono asked Jobs while aboard his yacht whether she was the reason behind the name.

“Yeah, it was,” Jobs told the singer, the first time Brennan-Jobs ever heard her father say “yes” to the question.

Small Fry will be released 4 September.

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