About Maya Slater
My father was Polish Egyptologist, my mother a Scottish fashion-artist. My sister and I were brought up in Kensington, London, in an enormous Victorian house with a walk-in wine cellar and a ballroom which my mother used as her studio. My parents picked it up for a song just after the war, and filled the top floors with a motley collection of lodgers with names like Miss Aberdam and Mr Niedjviedj. In the summer we would decamp to the South of France where my extended Polish family would gather for weeks on end and submit to the current obsession of my somewhat eccentric father: nothing to eat but tomatoes one year; no books allowed another...
I read French at Oxford and became an academic, partly as a snub to my father, who was not a believer in education for women. I met my husband, a nephew of Boris Pasternak, on a Greek island at midnight. He was a penniless medical student when we married, and I was the family breadwinner on a junior lecturer's salary.
We bought a ramshackle Victorian villa with four sitting tenants in Islington, North London, and then a ruined farmhouse in France with no running water, a rat infestation and adders in the earth closet. Many years later we are still restoring both houses.
All my working life I lectured on French literature at London University. I hope the students learned from me – I certainly learned from them, and for my research I translated and wrote about great writers (see my books). So when the urge to create fiction became irresistible, and I took early retirement, I’d thoroughly explored the novelist’s craft. Applying what I knew to my own writing turned out to be much harder than I could have believed - but satisfying too.
Nowadays I mainly write fiction, but I also write theatre and book reviews, mainly for the Times Literary Supplement. I keep up my academic interests, and am currently a Senior Research Fellow of my old college, Queen Mary, University of London.
My husband gave up being a hospital doctor to write full-time as well. We are collaborating on a book (see my current projects), and we shout questions at each other from our adjacent studies. Nearby live our two journalist daughters and their families.