Friday, April 01, 2011

An Apology

This post is an unreserved apology to William Skidelsky, literary editor of the Observer. In an overview post on the reactions to Vida's research on gender bias in reviewing, I attributed to him the view 'that while women read more than men, they mainly read the kinds of books that are not worthy of review'. He has pointed out to me that this is not a comment he made, nor a view he holds, and a look back at the Guardian article on which I was commenting shows that the comment was in fact that of TLS editor Peter Stothard, and related specifically to his own publication, thus: 'And while women are heavy readers, we know they are heavy readers of the kind of fiction that is not likely to be reviewed in the pages of the TLS... The TLS is only interested in getting the best reviews of the most important books.' It was a serious error on my part because people picked up on it in the comments section and ran with it.

This is the moment that the lone blogger - unsupported by editors or subeditors - dreads. For the past five years that I have been writing this blog I have lived in horror of making this kind of misrepresentation (and in the process providing fuel for the detractors of blogging), and I can tell you that when I received William Skidelsky's friendly but questioning message I went hot and cold all over. It's why blogging is so particularly time-consuming - the need to check back and double-check, which I signally failed to do on this occasion - and why it is not always compatible with the immersive, distracting and time-consuming project of writing a novel (which is why I think I failed on this occasion).

Once again, my sincere apologies to William Skidelsky, and my thanks to him for pointing out my error and enabling me to put it right.

7 comments:

Brian Clegg said...

Much sympathy, Elizabeth - it's so easy to do.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thank you, Brian. Not much excuse, though...

Dan Holloway said...

What a nightmare for you. As ever your response is a credit to you. I know how much things like this can play on the mind, but the fact you do worry shows how much you are on the side of the angels :)

Elizabeth Baines said...

Well, I hope I am, Dan!

William said...

Elizabeth - many thanks for your gracious apology. No hard feeling! Will

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thank you for that, Will - I wish I could apologize enough!

nmj said...

Elizabeth, Can't help thinking that if more people had the graciousness in admitting errors that you have displayed, and the graciousness that Will displayed in the way he pointed it out, the internet would be a far better place!