I was molested as a child, says Amis

Paul McCann Media Correspondent
Thursday 12 February 1998 00:02 GMT

The novelist Martin Amis has told an American Internet magazine that he was sexually molested on three occasions when he was a child.

Amis told Salon, a magazine produced by the Borders bookstore chain, that writing about his cousin Lucy Partington triggered the memory of his experiences. Ms Partington disappeared in 1973 and was sexually abused and murdered by the serial killers Rose and Fred West.

The best-selling author, and son of the novelist Kingsley Amis, was discussing the difficulty of writing about his own life in his planned autobiography when he casually remarked that writing about Lucy had been like writing about himself.

"I realised that that had been knocking around in my unconscious, and so I was writing about her and Fred West. I also found that I was writing about three occasions in my life where I was molested as a child by strangers.

"Once by a couple. There was a party going on at the house. I nine years old in my bedroom. He said he was a doctor. She just stood at the door. That sort of thing gets you going off into strange areas."

He also said he had been molested, apparently by different adults, in the street and on a beach on other occasions.

The disclosure obviously affected the novelist. When pressed by the interviewer about how these experiences disturbed his feelings of security, he took a long pause and then broke off the subject of his abuse. He then moved on to the difficulties of writing memoirs compared with fiction.

The author of London Fields and Time's Arrow dedicated his book The Information to his cousin after her remains were found in the Wests' garden in Gloucester, 22 years after her disappearance. Ms Partington, an Exeter University student, was the daughter of his mother's sister, and went missing after visiting a friend in Cheltenham.

Amis announced in an interview last year that his memoirs would be partly about his own life, and his relationship with his father, but would also tell the story of his cousin's life.

Ms Partington was described by those who knew her as sensitive and intelligent young woman destined for great things. She wanted to be a writer herself and was studying Middle English at the time of her murder.

Literary experts last night could identify no explicit references to child abuse in Amis's work. The only exception is the character Nicola Six in London Fields. Six displays some of the self-destructive and co- dependent characteristics of an abuse victim, along with an unhealthy attitude to sex.

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