Words in Pain: Letters on Life and Death

Author(s) : Olga Jacoby, Editor : Jocelyn Catty, Editor : Trevor Moore

Words in Pain: Letters on Life and Death

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Also by Jocelyn Catty

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Words in Pain is a rediscovered treasure. First published anonymously in 1919, these letters from a dying woman to her doctor encapsulate an attitude to death which is fiercely independent of religion but full of hope. Despite being well reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, the book became unavailable until Trevor Moore came across it in the Conway Hall Library and set about discovering who had written the letters and republishing the letters with new background material. He identified the author and her great-granddaughter, Jocelyn Catty, who has coedited the letters and contributed an Afterword describing the unusual circumstances of Jacoby's death and what followed. The book will appeal to diverse readers: those who will appreciate the picture of family life and love, interspersed with clear-headed musings on the nature of illness, loss and death; those interested in the development of rationalist thought, humanism and liberal education and in the history of adoption; those who relish its vivid recreation of the social and personal life of its times; and those who will find comfort in its account of coming to terms with death without religion to cushion the blow. As her dialogues with the doctor, a Christian, show, Jacoby is witty and erudite, and rails against the dogmas of organised religion while espousing a passionate morality.

About the Author(s)

Jocelyn Catty, MA (Oxon), DPhil, is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist working with adolescents in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in South London, and an adult psychotherapist in independent practice. She is Research Lead for the doctoral training in child psychotherapy at the Tavistock Centre and co-editor of the Tavistock Clinic Series. She was previously Senior Research Fellow in Mental Health at St George’s, University of London, with a special interest in the therapeutic alliance, and has published in social psychiatry, psychotherapy, and English literature.

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