Stay alive for her.
It’s what the brothers always did.
That’s what she did when she first came to stay with them at the home of her friend, the playwright George Hamilton.
It was her last summer in England, after all.
Now she’s back in Melbourne with her brother, and her life is the same as it always was.
But there’s a big difference.
The sisters’ new book, Stay Alive: The Shakespearean Story of Their Life Together, is a reminder of what’s different now.
Stay Alive is an autobiography of her life in the Hamilton family.
In it, she recounts everything from the moment she heard George Hamilton speak to the time she was put up in the Hamiltons’ house in Brighton.
It is a remarkable story.
But it’s also a testament to the power of Shakespearean storytelling to shape the lives of others.
‘The first time I heard him, I knew that this is the life of a writer,’ she writes.
‘There was a song that he’d written, it was a love song and I didn’t really know what it meant.
I thought: “Oh my God.
This is going to be great”.’
I was very young.
I’d just started writing, I was really young, and I was very much aware of the difference between the writing of children and adults.’
I’d always had a soft spot for children, and children’s writers were wonderful.’
At the time, the Hamilts were living in Brighton, and the young woman who would become Mrs Hamilton was one of her favourite writers.
She had a daughter, and a son.
She knew she had to be a writer too, and wrote to her mother, Mrs Hamilton, about how much she loved her son and how much her daughter was looking forward to going to school.
‘She said to me, “If I ever get the opportunity to write for you, you must do it, because that’s the way it must be, and you can’t live with it any other way.
You have to write”.’
And I said, “Yes, ma’am”.’
There was no writing that was done in Brighton for me, and that was my first real introduction to writing for the first time, and to my first experience of writing.
It started out with a small paper.
But I got into it.
‘I got very excited about it, and so did my daughter, when she read it.
And I was writing it all day.
I’m sure I’ve never written anything quite like it.
I wrote it in the morning, in the evening, and then I wrote a song to accompany it.’
In the end, we ended up with something like four or five songs.
I mean, it’s a great poem.
I don’t know why I didn; I think it’s because I was too scared to go into writing.
I was a very quiet person.
‘But I did write it.
The only thing I didn, as I’ve said, was that I wasn’t afraid to write a lot.
And that’s what I think was so interesting about it.
We just kept writing, and eventually I was able to write three or four poems a day, so I was doing this every day, but I’d written a lot of poems and I’d kept writing a lot, and at that time, we were really close.
‘So, of course, we knew that we would eventually end up with this book, and we were just delighted to have it, but we didn’t know that we’d get it for a long time.
We had no idea.
I think that’s when we really got into the writing.
‘We wrote about the whole year.
We didn’t write about the day-to-day, the writing that I was actually doing, we wrote about my daughter’s love for her mother.
We wrote about our friendship.
We’d been talking about it for weeks and weeks.
‘It was very strange.
We’ve been talking all the time since then.
It took a long, long time for us to come to terms with it.
You know, it just didn’t make sense.
‘That’s when my friend said to my mother, “Look, you’ve got to do something”.’
She said, and she was right.
‘And she said: “If you don’t, I’ll just kill you.”‘
So we went to my father and said: ‘Dad, you have to do it.
It can’t be for this long”.’
So, we went back to the family and said to them: “Don’t do it.”
And then, when I was at school, I wrote my own poetry and was invited to go to the local school.
So, I went there and wrote a poem, and my brother came up to me and said