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Williams, M.H. (2004). Donald Meltzer. Brit. J. Psychother., 21(2):329-330.

(2004). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 21(2):329-330


Donald Meltzer

Meg Harris Williams

Don's parents were Jewish émigrés from Latvia whom he described as ‘the miracle in his life’. His father, a builder and businessman, whom he admired intensely, did not force him in any particular direction but encouraged his emerging interests - such as, in the early days, riding lessons in Central Park. A photograph shows Don as a child mounted on an Arab stallion, in company with his father - who is riding a donkey.

As a child he was not studious. Like Keats, he never read a book until his early teens, but instead established himself amongst his peers as a fighter. As a result of his physique, name and bellicose propensities, he became known at school as ‘Tubby Belcher’. This early pattern found a repetition when, around the middle of his career, he quarrelled with the British Psychoanalytic Institute and eventually got himself ejected. The subject of the dispute was in fact dear to his heart, and a matter on which he could not compromise: it concerned his firm belief that ‘education’ must be distinguished from ‘training’.

In his middle years, after having married into our very literary family, he became increasingly fond of reading - ‘addicted’ as he said. Poetry was a brave new world that opened to him at that time and led to the establishment of the Clunie Press (started by Don and my mother, Martha Harris, in memory of my father, a poet and teacher). His lifelong passion for art and architecture, however, dated back to the time when his parents took him, aged 8, on a six-month tour of Europe.

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