André Schiffrin, Richard Gooder, Peter Cook, Catherine Stimpson, Co-rin Redgrave, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen—was both challenging and
invigorating. Still, the first year there I was in culture shock. England
was cold and the rooms underheated and the Fen Country penetratingly
It was also still shabby thirteen years after the war, still penurious
and short of goods.
But the second year I did find my sea legs and felt at home, friended
and successful. I shared a rental house with three other women—an
Australian and two Britons. I was publishing regularly in Granta and
was well enough thought of that the young Simon Gray wrote a vicious
piece attacking my writing and blaming the sheep-following Cambridge
press for their fulsome praise.
He picked out some pretty good examples of my verbal failures. I tell
this laughing, but the truth is that it stung for years.
CULLITY: In between the two England periods you came back to the
United States to go to Yale.
BURROWAY: I got back to Yale after Cambridge on an NBC-CBS fellowship in playwriting at the Drama School. Yale was in some ways a disappointment: the education was rote and memorization-oriented in a
way I had been nudged out of in Cambridge. But I met and married
Walter Eysselinck, a young Belgian theater director, there. We returned
to England and bought a ramshackle house in the glorious Sussex countryside, and I mothered two sons, taught, costumed, and wrote (often
in that order). It was an exhilarating and also exhausting life. I loved—
loved!—Sussex, the Downs, the two-acre garden, the bustle of the theater, the sense of being accomplished and accepted. I would happily have
lived in England forever. But there was also trouble, exhaustion, days I
woke hating my life. It’s a paradox I cannot now get my head around.
My husband was a difficult man, and he was difficult for the university as well as for me. For a long time, I wore myself out defending him—
to actors, designers, students, friends—and then there came a specific
moment, twisting my wedding ring in a meeting of some two or three
hundred students and faculty, called to discuss his high-handedness,
that I no longer could. If in England, I felt I was taken more seriously as
a writer—by my publisher, the university, and the media—than I could
have been in America (as indeed proved the case)—I nonetheless began