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Parsons, M. (2001). Marion Milner 1900-1998. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(3):609-611.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(3):609-611

Marion Milner 1900-1998

Michael Parsons

A Life of One's Own? You know, that book changed my life!’ Many British analysts have heard that remark in one form or another. Marion Milner published A Life of One's Own, under the pseudonym of Joanna Field, when she was 34 years old. It is the diary of a young woman candidly questioning herself about what she is doing with her life. It struck a chord with many people, and women in particular, in 1934, found inspiration in it to believe they could take fresh charge of their own lives. For the next fifty years Milner continued to produce illuminating books and papers, read by analysts and non-analysts alike, becoming in the course of her career a leading figure in the Independent tradition of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

She was born Marion Blackett in 1900, the youngest of three children. Her brother Patrick, winner of a Nobel Prize in 1948 for his work in particle physics, introduced her to psychoanalytic ideas with a 21st birthday gift of Freud's Introductory Lectures (1916-17). He was a friend of W. H. R. Rivers, the distinguished social anthropologist and psychiatrist, and pioneer of psychodynamic therapy, and also of Karin and Adrian Stephen. These two were significant psychoanalytic contacts for Milner. Adrian was Virginia Woolf's younger brother and he and Karin belonged to the ‘Bloomsbury set’, which included James Strachey and other important figures in British psychoanalysis during the nineteen twenties and thirties (Milner, 1954; Meisel & Kendrick, 1986).

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