Author Alice Munro’s colleagues say she knew about abuse in her family

Robert Thacker, a Canadian educationalist and “Alice Munro: Writing Your LifeIn “The Book of Representations,” a biography of the late Nobel Prize-winning author, the author said he expected this to happen: Eventually, the public would know the story of how Monroe’s husband, Gerald Fremlin, sexually abused one of their daughters, Andrea Robin Skinner, beginning when Skinner was 9 years old.

“I knew this day would come,” Thacker told The Washington Post on Monday, adding later, “I knew this day would come up, and I knew I would be having this kind of conversation.”

In an op-ed Published Sunday in the Toronto StarSkinner described his experience and Monroe’s unsympathetic reaction when Skinner told her about the abuse in 1992. Story written by two newspaper journalists It was reported how Fremlin had written letters admitting to the abuse and pleaded guilty to indecent assault in 2005. Munro remained married to Fremlin, who died in 2013.

The story has shocked the literary world, which widely mourned Monroe after her death in May at age 92.

“I didn’t find out about it until everybody else did, although I got hints sometime before last weekend. It’s horrifying,” Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood said in an email to the Post.

However, some people weren’t surprised by the revelation.

“As Alice’s Canadian editor and publisher, I knew that Alice and Andrea had been estranged for many years,” Douglas Gibson wrote in an email responding to an interview request from The Post. “In 2005, it became clear what was the case, and Gerry Fremlin’s full shameful role came to light, but I have nothing to add to this sad family story and have no further comment on it.”

Thacker said Skinner wrote to him about his experience in 2005, when he had contacted police about Fremlin and Thacker’s book was about to be published. He decided not to act on the information.

“Clearly they expected — or even hoped at the time — that I would make it public,” he told The Post on Monday. “I was not prepared to do that. And the reason I was not prepared to do that is because it was not that kind of book. I was not writing a biography that told the whole story. And I’ve lived long enough to know that there are things in families that they don’t want to talk about and that they want to keep within the family.”

Thacker said he and Munroe discussed the matter in 2008, when they met at a restaurant for an interview. Munroe asked him to turn off his recorder. He declined to describe the conversation in detail, but said Munroe told him that, in 1992, when Skinner was 25, she had told Munroe about the abuse. Munroe said she had left Fremlin for a while and that she eventually decided to return.

“In a case like that, I was not prepared to investigate,” Thacker later said: “The word she used was, she was ‘devastated.’ And she Was devastated. It wasn’t something she did. It was something that He Did.”

According to Thakar, it is widely understood that he drew inspiration from events in his own life for his 1993 story.Uncultured,” About this A woman who suppresses the information that her partner has sexually abused children: “Those of us who [study] Alice, or is it [studied] Alice, I’ve always thought that this story is directly connected to this whole issue.”

Skinner, who did not respond to the Post’s request for comment, wrote in her editorial that her mother’s fame meant that the silence about the abuse she suffered extended beyond her family: “Many influential people found out about my story, yet continued to support and add to a narrative they knew was false.”

Others who worked closely with Monroe were aware of Skinner’s experience, Thacker said: “Certainly people knew she was struggling with a burden.” He declined to name specific individuals, but said he had spoken to one of his colleagues about the possibility that Monroe’s family secret would be shared with the world, and the two had resolved to confirm what they already knew.

Penguin Random House Canada did not respond to a request for comment. When contacted by The Post, Deborah Treisman, the New Yorker’s fiction editor since 2003, declined to comment.


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