|Walter Breen wrote under the pen name|
J.Z. Eglinton in his book defending pedophilia.
This has all been long known, ever since the mid-80’s when Breen was tried and sent to prison. You can find Bradley’s own admittance to knowing about her husband’s crimes from her depositions at the same time, found here. So it wasn’t surprising that when Tor.com ran its tribute piece that a few bloggers would run counterpoint pieces, most notably, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who sparked a fierce debate in the comments section of her post. It was there that new details emerged. Bradley’s own daughter posted in the comment section, calling her mother the true villain in her life, not Breen. “I do not think she loved anything or anyone,” her daughter stated, and then in a subsequent blog post, Moen quoted the daughter’s biggest shocker: Bradley herself had molested her and many others.
As you can imagine, debates raged on both Moen’s blog, as well as on places like Reddit.com/r/fantasy. Do Bradley’s horrible actions in life negate the value of her books? The Mists of Avalon was a watershed feminist novel. How, as readers, do we reconcile the difference between Bradley the author and Bradley the person?
I had already been struggling with this idea since when I first learned of Bradley’s depositions about eight months ago while attending the SFF convention FogCon. I’m familiar with literary theory and the prevailing idea that we should separate an author from her work, but I simply couldn’t read Bradley’s work anymore without thinking about the author as a person. And I’ve had similar struggles with other authors, namely H.P. Lovecraft, who was a well-documented xenophobe.
So what do you think? Can we separate author from person? And what other authors are out there who have written amazing literature but were despicable humans? Please chime in. I’ll actually be teaching a class on this topic this coming semester and I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.