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Mrs. Cornelius

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  • Mrs. Cornelius

    Mike, I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but as you have admitted that Mrs. Cornelius is your favourite character in your books, I wondered where you got the inspiration for her. She always has the air of verisimilitude about her, as if she was based on a real person. In reading Byzantum Endures recently, I found she brought some much needed light relief to what is at times a very grim story and she almost leaps off the page when she appears.
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Marca
    Mike, I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but as you have admitted that Mrs. Cornelius is your favourite character in your books, I wondered where you got the inspiration for her. She always has the air of verisimilitude about her, as if she was based on a real person. In reading Byzantum Endures recently, I found she brought some much needed light relief to what is at times a very grim story and she almost leaps off the page when she appears.
    This is a good question. This a DANG good question. I remember Mike said that he always thought of Irene Handl as Mrs. Cornelius (probably in the foreword to GREAT ROCK'N'ROLL SWINDLE or something). But where did she really originate??? As a cross between Virginia Woolf and Mae West on Eastenders?
    "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.

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    • #3
      Well, I always said that Mrs Cornelius was the mother I always wished I had. She's based on my own mother and on me, mostly, though it's true irene Handl, whom I met a couple of times (she was a neighbour when I lived in Notting Hill) is also in the mix. Not Irene herself, of course, but her persona in movies and tv. She was an accomplished novelist, fond of her dogs and read a lot of science fiction! So Mrs C is no more one person than Una Persson (an idealised version of my first wife, Hilary, done for Hilary, as it were) or Catherine (mostly an idealised version of my second wife, Jill, also done for her pleasure) or for that matter Jerry (based on someone I only saw in Notting Hill, coming away from the old greengrocer's Cornelius of London). Shakey Mo was based mostly on Mike Harrison, who invented the character in a short story! Mrs C was a composite of all the ladies I used to know running stalls in Portobello fruit and veg market as well as the rest. In many ways she's a spirit, of course. The spirit of London Past, maybe. The spirit of the Blitz ?

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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      • #4
        Spirit of Wayward Aunts, perhaps?

        There is a lot of Mrs C. that reminds me of some of my female relatives.

        There's me, trying to keep my sons as innocent as possible, for as long as possible, and at the last family barbecue, there are my twin aunts talking as lewdly and loudly as possible. Terrible influences! Can't help but love them, just like Mrs C.

        I feel like I know her.
        Last edited by Governor of Rowe Island; 07-05-2006, 11:54 AM.
        You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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