Why We Leave Stuff out of Memoirs

You will recall that I read Admiral Sir Guy Gaunt’s memoir with a pang of disappointment. All the good spy yarns were in there, and that was great, but he left out the juicy bits.

You will doubtless also recall that I explained these omissions as the natural behavior of an officer and a gentleman.  I was imagining Captain Jack Aubrey sitting at table on HMS Surprise with his fellow officers, telling war stories. Would he talk about the women in his life? Certainly not.

But I was mistaken. Here is a bit of typescript that was pasted inside a copy of The Yield of the Years. Not my copy. Somebody else’s copy.


Interesting to note that the address on his letterhead is Tangier, the paradise he praised in the last chapter of his book without mentioning anything that was happening in his life.

So we see that Sir Guy’s second wife was typing it all up for him, and if that weren’t dampening enough, she was doing it for their daughter to read. Everything is now explained. Do I want my children to know all the deviltry I got up to in my youth? Not on your onion.

4 thoughts on “Why We Leave Stuff out of Memoirs

  1. Hi, Kate. Out of interest whose copy did that interesting letter come from? I’m writing a history of the Royal Navy in Gaunt’s time and have a section devoted to memoirs, biography and the like.


  2. I’m ashamed to say I found it online, pasted into an image of The Yield of the Years, and lifted it without making a note of where it came from. Now I can’t find where I got it. Not Google Books, and not Gutenberg, because I just checked them and found nothing. It’s a great letter, though, and clearly authentic. Later I bought my own copy of the book (sans letter). I’m a poor scholar, but a great fan of the admiral.


    1. Thanks for the swift response! I’ll have to have a proper scour of Google. I found this post quite by accident while looking for an image of the cover of the book (I can’t remember what the dust jacket looked like and I don’t have one). That letter really is special.


  3. I remember, or think I remember, where I got it. The book was for sale, maybe on ABE books, but it was more than I could possibly afford. It was sold, so the image isn’t up anymore. I found a cheaper one later. If you want me to send you a scan of the book’s naked cover, no dust jacket, drop me an email at kategallison@comcast.net. It’s full of photographs too. If you don’t have a copy I can scan some of those in.


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