British novelist and actress Esther Freud has written 8 books, one of which was made into a film starring Kate Winslet.
And she had dyslexia, not learning to read and write well until she was over 10 years old.
She attended a Steiner school, which she now describes with mixed feelings. The one thing she loved about it was that it was a “non-pushy” school. She has spoken openly about prioritizing sending her 3 children to schools where getting the highest marks isn’t the only thing considered valuable.
The Steiner approach takes conventional academics at a slower pace, but still Freud describes feeling lost as a child.
“I don’t know if there were labels like dyslexia back then. It seemed as if there was something intrinsically mysterious that I didn’t grasp.”
It wasn’t until she found a book she couldn’t put down that her reading fell into place.
She loved arts and crafts throughout school, and won acceptance to the famed Drama Centre in Clerkenwell. Colin Firth was in the year above her! She remembers him as the star of his cohort.
Her acting career never took off, but as soon as she sat down to write her first book, she was addicted. And the critics were too – her novels, mostly drawn from phases of her own life, have received much praise.
The youngest of her three children is now struggling in the same way she did in school. She has spoken about it in interviews, saying: “he has real trouble, just as I did, but I’m glad it’s my youngest child because I know he’s clever and I wouldn’t have had that confidence if it had been my first child. It makes me distressed to think that children are being judged at such specific times when I know that they develop at different stages.”