The Guardian has finally covered the Marion Zimmer Bradley child abuse story, already featured – and extensively discussed – in TeleRead. And although it brings new and helpful insights from many, including Bradley’s own daughter (and victim) Moira Greyland, it also brings some not so welcome and rather suspect comment from other quarters.
Some comments on TeleRead and elsewhere have already taken Greyland to task for not speaking out sooner, implying that her motives for such a long silence and for going public now are questionable. “Interesting her daughter waited until after her death almost as courageous as her mother not disclosing the abuse in the first place!” wrote one commentator here. Greyland addressed that point in an email to The Guardian:
I thought that my mother’s fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women’s rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives. I didn’t want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut … one reason I never said anything is that I regarded her life as being more important than mine: her fame more important, and assuredly the comfort of her fans as more important.
That underlines why I wrote the original piece in TeleRead – because even she was so awed by her mother’s stature as a creative figure that she felt compelled to stay silent. You can find further responses by her on this issue here.
Much of the other commentary and feedback in The Guardian‘s article is as you would expect – and none the less welcome for that. However, there is one comment, also made to The Guardian, that I think deserves rebuttal. That’s from Russell Galen, literary agent for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, which owns the copyrights to the her estate on behalf of an outside trustee. He said:
Marion is deceased and we are not able to ask her about her side of the story, nor do we have any personal knowledge of the events that are being described. All we can say is that during the decades in which we worked with her, we found Marion to be a great friend and enormously kind person. She was much loved by many friends, especially in the literary community where she supported the careers of many writers at considerable personal expense. That’s just a statement of fact based on personal knowledge, and is not meant to be a response to these allegations.
You may feel that a lot of that statement errs far too much in Bradley’s favor. But my real issue with that is that other writers and associated figures have come forward since Greyland’s revelations to say just the opposite about Bradley. Here’s one commentator from the original post by Deirdre Saoirse Moen:
I only encountered MZB twice at cons, and both times, it was a pretty horrible experience, even though I was only an observer to ugly public behaviour and not her target. Any time I tried to tell anyone — trying to explain why I didn’t have fond memories or praise of a “highly regarded member of the community” — it was shrugged off with excuses.
And that’s by no means the only example. Yes, Deirdre herself goes on record in the same thread, saying “MZB gave a start to a lot of writers, especially women. That’s still as true as it ever was.” But to some other writers and fan community members at least, she was apparently very destructive. Maybe in certain contexts she was “a great friend and enormously kind.” But there’s also a strong implication that the same halo of veneration that covered her sexual abuse also covered abusive and damaging behavior towards other writers. And as said before, I brought this whole subject up to kill off that halo of veneration around any creative figure for ever – especially when that creative figure is morally blinded by it.