JEAN HART
A portrait
By Malcolm Hart



Jean was born in East Ham sometime before World War 2. Hers was the first generation of working class children to receive full time education. A State Scholar, she went from East Ham Grammar School for Girls to St Martin's School of Art (where she and I first met) then on to Reading University where she gained a BA in Fine Art, then on to Ruskin College, Oxford.


  Despite her intellectual and artistic talents, music was her true love and she successfully pursued a career as a singer, sometimes at Peter Cook's famous Establishment Club, sometimes in theatres. She sang Brecht as understudy to Lotte Lenya at the Royal Court Theatre

After our graduation, she and I married and joined my parents in Johannesburg. Apartheid was in full swing and we managed to become involved. We were close friends of Drum Magazine and consequently the ANC. We partied frequently with Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Ruth First, Jo Slovo at the home of Drum editor Sylvester Stein.

Things got out of hand and we found ourselves under the surveillance of Special Branch of Police. We left by the back door, hitch hiking home.

Our marriage didn't last. On our return to London Jean fell in love with Bill Oddie. They Married and had two daughters. When their marriage ended, Jean was left to bring up the girls and in order to support and care for them, found work as a teacher of Theatre. We have remained constant friends.




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