"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."

Dodie Smith Photograph: Hulton/Getty Images

In the Observer today was a piece by Robert McCrum entitled: The 10 best lines in fiction -  and the opening lines of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle was included, along with those of novels by James Joyce, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Donna Tarte.  McCrum goes on to say:

"A brilliant beginning to a much loved English classic, which tells us almost all we need to know about the character Cassandra Mortmain."

This is why we have used her opening lines of the novel in the first song in the show.

McCrum also says that:

"Perhaps only an English writer could extract so much resonance from that offbeat reference to "the kitchen sink".

I have often wondered whether, in a round about way,  Dodie started off the phrase "kitchen sink drama".

Her autobiographies are entitled: Look back with Astonishment, Look Back with Gratitude, Look Back with Love and Look back with Mixed Feelings.

John Osborne's play "Look Back in Anger" (1959 is also very autobiographical) came out not long after Dodie's last book.  I have often wondered whether he was poking fun at Dodie through the title - but how very strange that this play was the beginning of "kitchen sink drama"!!!  Legend has it that audiences gasped at the sight of an ironing board on stage!  The ironing board looms large in the opening of Dodie's novel too!!

Kitchens seem to be Ok in musicals but I have been told (I think it was Richard Stilgoe) don't ever have a sofa on stage in a musical!!


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