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I once met… Clare Winnicott

I once met Clare Winnicott. She was one of the leading British social workers of the 20th century.  The wife of Donald (D.S.) Winnicott, an analysand of Melanie Klein, a wartime innovator in caring for evacuated children, a teacher and mentor to a generation of social workers, and a gifted psychotherapist. Her husband had died in 1971 and in 1980 she called me to her flat in Knightsbridge to help her sell some of her books.

She was a pleasant woman and showed no sign of what I later found was a bout with cancer. Her books belonged to her and her late husband and had annotations by them and were mostly concerned with psychoanalysis and sociology. She had a small collection of TS Eliot which she kept. She died 4 years later and seemed to be in her late 60s at the time. I bought a van driver with me to help load and on hearing that she was a psychoanalyst he asked her what she thought of us, something I would not have asked. She replied cheerfully 'You are two of the most normal people I have met for a long time." Which was reassuring - although I had a feeling it was a stock reply!

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