3D cover image for Self-Portrait with Parents by Patricia Tyerman

Self-Portrait with Parents

How adolescence galvanised me for a single-breasted adulthood

Patricia Tyerman

Here is a new kind of autobiography, combining original research with a personal understanding of the author's upbringing and its consequences.

  • ISBN 9781800420496
  • Published Apr 2021
  • 210 x 148mm (252 pages)


Breast cancer shocked her into asking how she would cope. What resources of body and mind had she inherited from her parents?

Self-Portrait with Parents combines original research with a personal understanding of Tyerman’s upbringing and its consequences. Looking back at her adolescence and exploring the largely unknown lives of her parents has helped her not only to recover from recurrent breast cancer but also to resist the powerfully negative reactions still common today.

Tyerman’s father, Donald, Oxford scholar from the impoverished north-east, wartime Fleet Street hero and BBC broadcaster, deputy editor of The Times and editor of the Economist, endured high responsibility without real power. Her mother, Margaret Gray, gave up several careers to look after five children and a husband disabled by childhood polio. Tyerman grew up with a father who couldn’t walk. Yet his passion was athletics. Her parents were indifferent to gender distinctions while the outside world valued Fifties femininity. This was hard for Tyerman then but now liberates her to resist assumptions about a loss of womanhood and sexuality.

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Self-Portrait with Parents is also available on Amazon Kindle.

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