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'You are going to reveal me for the charlatan I am' - how Beckett tormented his biographer

Biographer Deirdre Bair spent six years trying to get to grips with a secretive Samuel Beckett who certainly didn't make her job easy for her. Her new book describes the tricky business of waiting for Beckett

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Honourable: Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair from the outset that his word was his bond

Honourable: Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair from the outset that his word was his bond

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Author: Deirdre Bair. Photo by Michael Lionstar

Author: Deirdre Bair. Photo by Michael Lionstar

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Honourable: Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair from the outset that his word was his bond

'So you are the one who is going to reveal me for the charlatan that I am."

It was the first thing Samuel Beckett ever said to me on that bitter cold day, November 17 1971, as we sat in the minuscule lobby of the Hôtel du Danube. I had gone to Paris at his express invitation, to meet him and talk about writing his biography.

We were meant to meet on November 7, and for 10 days I had no idea where he was, because he never showed up and never cancelled. He had told me I should phone when I arrived in Paris and we would confirm the time and place. I was to call precisely at one o'clock, because he disliked the telephone and answered only during the hour between one and two.