Daughter of Nobel Prize winner in literature Alice Munro: My stepfather corrupted me for years, and my mother knew and covered for him

Juliette Morgan
Daughter of Nobel Prize winner in literature Alice Munro: My stepfather corrupted me for years, and my mother knew and covered for him

Details of the personal life of Nobel laureate Alice Munro, a world-famous writer and acknowledged master of the short story, have emerged: her daughter, 58-year-old Andra Robin Skinner, has revealed that her stepfather had been abusing her for years, and that her mother knew about it but kept quiet. Andrea told the Toronto Star about this.

Alice Munro gave birth to Andrea from her first husband James Munro in 1966, and she also had other daughters from this marriage - Sheila, Katherine and Jenny, but Katherine died in infancy. In 1972, Alice and James Munro divorced, and four years later the writer married helographer Gerald Fremlin. Two years later, Fremlin began to harass Andrea: according to her, he had been harassing and raping her since 1976. At that time, she was only 9 years old, and he was over 50. The girl told her father, James Munro, about what was happening, but he did nothing, did not even tell his ex-wife about it. As a result, Andrea was subjected to violence until her teenage years. This led to significant psychological consequences for Andrea - she suffered from bulimia, migraines and insomnia.

Андреа в 9 лет/Фото: Courtesy Munro Family/ Toronto Star
Андреа в 9 лет/Фото: Courtesy Munro Family/ Toronto Star

In 1992, when she was 20, she told her mother for the first time about her stepfather's abuse. She says she was visiting her mother, who decided to discuss a story she had told about a girl who had committed suicide after being raped by her stepfather. Alice Munro then asked Andrea: "Why didn't she tell her mother?" A month later, Andrea decided to write to her mother and confess that her stepfather had been raping her since she was nine: "However, despite her sympathy for the fictional character, my mother did not feel the same way about me. She reacted exactly as I had feared - as if she had found out about infidelity."

After Andrea's confession, Alice Munro left her husband, but soon returned to him and lived with him until his death in 2013. Gerald Fremlin blamed his stepdaughter for everything that happened and called the nine-year-old a "homewrecker." Alice Munro, according to her daughter, believed that her husband had betrayed her, not because he had molested her daughter, but because he had not been faithful to her. In addition, Alice told Andrea that her husband had other girls from neighboring houses, while she, as Andrea notes, was "full of resentment towards him, but did not realize that she was talking to a victim of a rapist and her own daughter."

The article quotes an excerpt from a letter from Fremlin to Munro, in which he writes: "I think Andrea invaded my bedroom for sexual adventure. If she had been really afraid, she could have left at any time. She was sexually receptive and slightly aggressive."

In 2002, when Andrea became a mother herself, she severed all ties with her mother's family and declared that she would not allow Fremlin near her children. In 2005, she read laudatory articles about Alice Munro and her marriage - she could not stand it and went to the police. At that time, Gerald Fremlin was already 80 years old, he admitted his guilt in "indecent assault" on his stepdaughter and received a suspended sentence and a ban on approaching children under fourteen during this period.

Alice Munro later claimed that she was told about her husband's abuse "too late" and that she loved him too much, blaming it on a "misogynistic culture". The writer never spoke publicly about her husband's crimes. Andrea decided to go public with the story so that it would become part of her mother's biography: "I never wanted to see another interview or biography of my mother that didn't mention what happened to me and didn't tell me that after learning the truth, my mother stayed with and protected her abuser."

Alice Munro died in a nursing home in May 2024. She was 92, having battled dementia for at least 12 years. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013 with the wording "master of the modern short story." She became the first Canadian writer to be awarded the prize. In addition, she is the winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for Fiction, a three-time winner of the O. Henry Award, and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her iconic books include Dance of the Happy Shadows, Lives of Girls and Women, and The Love of a Good Woman. The press often compares her to Chekhov, and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages, including Russian. Several short stories have been adapted for the screen: the most striking adaptation was the drama "Away from Her" (2006) directed by Sarah Polley based on the story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain".

Книга
Книга "Жизни девочек и женщин"/Фото: Random House - Penguin

This is the second major scandal in the literary community in recent times: recently, writer Neil Gaiman was accused of sexualized violence. It is reported that there were two victims: they said that the writer forced them to engage in BDSM and made him call them "master".

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