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This article is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.

Gerald Kersh and My Mum's Secret Adrian May
I was going through some old papers of my Mum's, when I found two typescripts of a short story and a couple of love letters to her from the author Gerald Kersh. The story is called 'The Musicians' and one copy has a handwritten dedication: 'For Gladys / with love from Gerald Kersh / March 2nd '40'. I had vaguely heard of 'Kersh', as he signed himself in the letters, and would have said, if someone had asked me, '30s short story writer?' Mum died when I was a small boy, but discovering this material revealed many unexpected connections. It became the focus of a sense of a multi-dimensional person I was seeking in my Mum, there among the few papers, letters, diaries and photos which remained from her short life. It revealed a secret side of her, which had uncanny connections with my own life. She seems to have rescued the story from oblivion, when Kersh lost his original copy in an air-raid in the Blitz. Also, she might even have inspired it.

Gerald Kersh (1911- 68) has a 'noir' London status, but for me discovering this adventurer-writer also helped put my father, himself a writer, into a stronger cultural perspective and helped me to see some aspects of his relationship with my Mum in a more vital way. I'd been trying to find out what kind of person she was beyond the vague and unavailable knowing of a child and the sparse memories of those who knew ...


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