(Trigger warning: child abuse, sexual abuse)
On June 10th, Deirdre Saoirse Moen published an email from Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter. In the email she states that her mother molested her from the age of three until the age of twelve. There are also two poems, in which Greyland recounts physical abuse that ranges from being held underwater in the bathtub until she was afraid her mother was going to drown her, to being scarred with a knife, to being beaten and choked, to more sexual abuse.
It’s pretty horrible.
Bradley’s husband, Walter Breen, was a pedophile, and ended up dying in prison. This was more widely known, and was the center of a controversy in Science Fiction/Fantasy fandom in Berkeley in the 1960s. Moira is their daughter, and she states in her email that she personally knew of at least 22 victims assaulted by Breen. Bradley testified that she knew of some of these victims, even though she didn’t consider it a crime.
Like many people, I am mainly familiar with Marion Zimmer Bradley through her Mists of Avalon books. I took a seminar in college on the women in Arthurian legends, and that book was a big part of the class. I was just considering suggesting it to a cousin. Now I’m not so sure.
I didn’t bring her books with me when I moved to Chicago. They are with the majority of my collection in a family member’s basement. I’m not sure what I’d do if I had my well-thumbed copy of Mists in front of me. I don’t think I could read it now without thinking of the author as a child abuser. I don’t think I could hand it to my cousin, and tell her how much I loved it.
I’m not saying others shouldn’t read her books, or shouldn’t recommend them to others. Unlike living authors who can funnel their profits into causes I don’t agree with (cough*card*cough), Marion Zimmer Bradley is dead and can no longer directly hurt people. But while this knowledge taints my own fondness for books that were important to me, it’s not as heartbreaking as what happened to her daughter.