An (Imagined) Biddy Chambers Interview (Part 3): Privacy

I’m having way too much fun with the imagined Biddy Chambers interview idea.

The first two dealt with the concept of me writing her biography (part 1) and the move to Egypt (part 2).

Since I’m inventing these interviews, I took the opportunity to include an amused Oswald Chambers sitting by.

In this blog post, I asked about Biddy’s decision to remain unknown.

Letters

MU: You made it tricky to learn about your life.Biddy Chambers, imagined interview, biography privacy concerns, biographer, diaries, letters, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Michelle Ule

BC: “Of course. I wasn’t intending anyone should write a biography of me.”

MU: Why not?

BC: “I came from an era when a proper woman’s name only appeared in the papers when she married and when she died. Having an entire book written about her is preposterous.”

MU: Memoirist Macy Halford said you burned your letters. Is that why?

BC: “My letters were private communications between my husband and myself. No one needed to know what I said to him.”

MU: Fortunately Eva Pulford saved a few you wrote her.

BC: Looks away and tries not to tap her foot.

MU: But you saved Oswald’s letters.

BC: “His letters were wonderful and poetic. He told about important events.”

MU:  “All those sunrises and sunsets he wrote about?”

Oswald Chambers laughs.

BC: “Nature in poetry. They were glorious.”

MU Some of them were pretty intimate. (Does not look at either one).

BC: Smiles at her husband. “Oswald was a poet. He could not help himself.”

Diaries

MU: It was challenging to write this book since neither one of you spoke about the other in your diaries.

BC: Raises her eyebrows at Oswald.

Biddy Chambers, imagined interview, biography privacy concerns, biographer, diaries, letters, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Michelle Ule

My copy of Oswald Chambers: His Life and Works is well marked.

MU: Wait. Did you delete the personal parts when you put together Oswald Chambers: His Life and Works?

BC: “I included information that was germane to understanding who Oswald was. The biography wasn’t about me.”

MU: Kathleen said the book made you sad when you finished it because you realized how little you really knew of your husband.

BC: “It sobered me to recognize how little time we had together.” Oswald takes her hand.

MU: Appeals to Oswald. Did she represent you well in that book?

Oswald Chambers: “Biddy provided sufficient information for people needing to know about me.

“The important information, which she shared, was all about God and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

“I think she did a splendid job focusing on Jesus in My Utmost for His Highest, don’t you?”

MU: Yes. Biddy, you only kept a diary for a few years after Oswald’s death?

BC: “Where did you find that diary?”

MU: I don’t know where it came from. Someone gave it to Wheaton.

BC: Purses her lips and glances around for archivist Keith Call–who is nowhere to be found.

MU: You only kept it for two years or so, but they were important years.

BC: “I kept it in Egypt for our friends back home and it remained a habit when I repatriated to England.”

MU: But like many, your enthusiasm dwindled as life pressed in?

BC: “Exactly. I’d never kept a diary before. It took more time than I expected. You found what you needed, though.”

MU: Yes. I’m thankful you kept that diary for a variety of reasons. It gave you a voice in the biography. It also explained a lot about what happened.

Surprises?

MU: Did I invade your privacy in any major way?

BC: “As my mother and grandmother indicated, you discovered information about our family that surprised us.”

MU: You didn’t realize your parents were first cousins?

Biddy Chambers, imagined interview, biography privacy concerns, biographer, diaries, letters, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Michelle Ule

Diary photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

BC: “Of course I knew, but it wasn’t uncommon in that era. The Chancery Court information surprised us; my mother didn’t realize her family’s situation.”

MU: None of that reflected poorly on you, it happened.

BC: “No, but it made my grandmother sad, and that is why some things need to remain private and unknown to those outside the family circle.”

MU: True, which is why I drew no conclusions from that event.

BC: “What you imagined as a result of that disappointment, may very well have been correct. We never put it together before.

MU: So, in that arena I did betray your privacy?

BC: Indicates the billowing heavenly clouds around us. “None of that is important any more. God is in His heaven and all is right in the new world.”

Oswald Chambers: “I’ve always loved Browning’s poetry.”

MU and BD together: “I know.”

Tweetables

Biddy Chambers and her biographer discuss privacy. Click to Tweet

Burned letters and edited diaries: Biddy Chambers on privacy. Click to Tweet

Did Biddy burn her letters from Oswald Chambers? Click to Tweet

 

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2 Comments

  1. This is so great. Not knowing her husband well enough … tears, friend … tears. Life is so short.

    Reply
    • Michelle Ule

       /  October 6, 2017

      Very poignant. But she took that grief and turned it into a life for God’s glory, living out the vision Oswald painted for their partnership. A total blessing.

      Reply

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