Image for Edna O'Brien: Life, StoriesNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 55 minutes

Now 81 and due to publish her memoirs in October 2012, renowned Irish novelist Edna O'Brien has opened her home and her heart to documentary filmmakers.

O'Brien's journey from Tuamgraney, County Clare to the centre of literary life in London has involved rebellion, censorship, elopement, motherhood, divorce, custody battles and the rearing of two sons as a single mother, as well as a glittering social life and a growing profile as a public personality and commentator.

Based on a series of frank, moving and entertaining interviews with O'Brien and her two sons Carlo and Sasha Gebler, the film offers a privileged glimpse of O'Brien's more private life, her writing process and rituals - a fascinating portrait of a woman whose infinite variety and ageless spirit make her an icon at home and abroad.

Edna O'Brien's was, and still is, a life lived in technicolour. She was a key figure in the social and literary whirl of sixties and seventies London and is probably the only Irish novelist who credits the taking of LSD with influencing her prose style in the early seventies.

The documentary touches on tales of the writer's social encounters with many of that period's biggest names, including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Mitchum. But all the while, in her life and in her work O'Brien was dealing with a complex emotional life, including her tangled relationship with her parents and her ambivalence towards Ireland. The resulting film gives unprecedented insight, encompassing the sweep of a long career, into one of the great survivors in Irish literature.

Last on

Tue 16 Oct 2012 00:30 BBC Four

Credits

Director
Charlie McCarthy
Producer
Cliona Ni Bhuachalla

Broadcasts

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