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Wrottesley, C. (2016). Tea with Winnicott, by Brett Kahr, with illustrations by Alison Bechdel, Karnac, 2016. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 6(2):221-224.

(2016). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 6(2):221-224

Tea with Winnicott, by Brett Kahr, with illustrations by Alison Bechdel, Karnac, 2016

Review by:
Reviewed by Catriona Wrottesley, M.A.

Where does one turn for diversion and relief during a thirty year odyssey of meticulous, globe and time-spanning research? For more than three decades, Professor Brett Kahr, “a clinician with a longstanding interest in historiography” (2000, p. 109), has immersed himself in the life and work of English paediatrician and psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott. For countless hours, we learn, he has sat in libraries on both sides of the Atlantic and Switzerland, poring over copious archival material to glean hitherto undisclosed information about Winnicott, the subject of his enquiry (2000, p. 107). Kahr has studied Winnicott's writings from 1919 to 1971, gained access to his unpublished correspondence and appointment diaries from 1948 to his death in 1971, and he has met and interviewed approximately 900 of Winnicott's relatives, former analysands, colleagues, supervisees, friends, and acquaintances, including Winnicott's cardiologist and the tailor responsible for fashioning his hand-made suits (Kahr, 2016b). Having previously published one Winnicott biography (Kahr, 1996a) to mark the centenary of the great man's birth, Kahr then occupied himself in further research and his subsequent multi-volume biography of Winnicott is reportedly close to completion (2016b).

In such circumstances, few, I imagine, would have the energy, never mind sufficient playful creativity and determination, to pull off what Kahr has achieved in his latest Winnicott publication, Tea with Winnicott, a 288-page work of creative non-fiction, with illustrations by award-winning American cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel (2007, 2012).

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