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- Dear Tom: Letters From Home
When Tom Courtenay left his home in Hull to study in London his mother Annie wrote him letters every week.
In them she would observe the world on her doorstep. A world of second-hand shoes and pawnshops, where
all the men worked "on Dock" and Saturday nights were spent down the Club. It was a world in which Annie
often felt misplaced. Having always longed to write, the letters to her son gave Annie a creative means
of escape. “It's after tea now, your father is examining the bath, I'm awaiting Ann and outside
it's India”. Like his mother, the young Courtenay also felt he was supposed to be elsewhere.
Unlike his mother, he was given the opportunity to educate himself and chase his dream. In
this book Courtenay intersperses recollections of his days as a student actor in the early 1960s with
his mother's engaging and enchanting correspondence. Raw but real, her prose not only paints a graphic
and gritty picture of everyday drudge, it displays an inquisitive insight into a life that denied a
fishwife her dreams. In a world where working-class women learnt to make do, Annie felt at odds with
her artistic aspirations. "Just lately I have had the feeling that I am more than one me.
It is very strange. There's the me that goes careering off writing, thinking, Then there is the
ordinary me that mocks the writing me and thinks she is silly and a boring fool". After his mother's
untimely death, her letters became Tom Courtenay's most treasured possessions. Dear Tom: Letters From Home
is a memoir of a mother's love that pays posthumous homage to a creative spirit stifled by circumstance.
“What magic if, after all these years, people read her letters and are affected by them”,
writes Courtenay. It would be impossible not to be. A beautiful book that won't fail to touch.