It was said of Flaubert that he “delighted in bizarreries“. C’est moi, aussi.
One such delectable morsel relates to the author of the poem, Phenomenal Woman, a snippet of which I’ve featured in the “Quote for the week”, Maya Angelou.
Angelou is the American author of, among many books, the startling volume of autobiography called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the story of her first 17 years during which she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. The man was jailed for the offence and found dead five days after his release, kicked to death, the rumour went, by Angelou’s brothers. Angelou promptly became mute for years, believing
my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name.
This was the first of many tribulations and triumphs in Angelou’s life including her time as a prostitute and brothel madam, her career as a dancer and her close involvement with the civil rights campaign of Martin Luther King.
If there’s any woman who could have, would have, written a poem like Phenomenal Woman, it’s Angelou.
Angelou has also been married three times, once to a man named Paul du Feu.
Now it so happens that a Paul du Feu was also married to Germaine Greer, the Australian-born feminist and author of the worldwide bestseller, The Female Eunuch. It was her first and only marriage, and it lasted three weeks. She left, she says, because she couldn’t be faithful.
Greer is famous for her wit and mischief – she had taken on Norman Mailer in a debate at New York’s Town Hall, been photographed naked and bent over looking between her thighs at the camera on the front cover of the 1970s magazine, Suck, and once written a weekly gardening column for the satirical British magazine, Private Eye, using the nom de plume, Rose Blight.
As unlikely as it sounds, it appears the one man, variously described as a builder, construction worker, carpenter, journalist – and my personal favourite, “remodeller” – married these two huge and mighty women. I haven’t been able to confirm it was the same Paul du Feu, but somehow it seems even more unlikely there were two such “builders” who married such women.
All of which leaves me wondering, who on earth is Paul du Feu and what could he be like?