My left Foot

"My Left Foot" was written by Christy Brown, who was born in Doublin, Ireland, in the Rotunda Hospital, on June 5th1932.
His father was a bricklayer in Doublin, his mother housewife. He was one of 22 children, but he was a victim of cerebrial palsys what means that he could not control his speech properly or his movement, apart from his left foot. To have the possibility of communication through his left foot, enabled him to become a great writer and painter. He typed this autobiography with his left foot.
He later wrote an autobiographical novel, " Down all the Days", which was very successful. Other novels written by him are " A Promising Career","A Shadow on Summer" and "Wild Grow the Lilies", and he also published his poetry in "Collected Poems".
He died in 1981.

Published :
It's aMinerva Book, published by Mandarin Paperbacks in 1990. It was first published in Great Britain 1954 by Martin Secker & Warburg Limited. The book was reisussed and reprinted in 1994.

Type of book:
It is an autobiography, in a simple but meaningful language. "My Left Foot" is a book to be read many times and cherished forever.
" One of the literary greats of the modern age" - Irish Times
" Riveting, funny and inspiring" - Irish Times
" A story of courage that is wise and in no way morbid" - Sunday Times

It's the autobiography about the development of a child, born with a terrible physical disablement, cerebral palsy, in a poor Irish family, until a famous author and painter. First in his country and then all over Europe.
The setting of the story is located in Dublin, Ireland, ina very small one storeyed building with a small garden.
It is the story of how Christy Brown fought his way through his life. Although he had this disablement, he rose his family into a higher standard of living.
Christie is kind of stubborn and that's why he never gives up like his mother.

The most important persons:

Christy Bown: He was a person who tried to proof everybody that he was something better than most of the people thought of him and he had not given up in any part of his life. As a child he got a lot of support by his mother who believed in him, although he wasn't able to communicate, or even to show that he understood what he saw, heard or felt.This was a hard time for his mother, his family and of cours, for himself, to be unable to get out of his own skin.
As he saw the chalk, he saw his future in front of him. He recognized that this was a chance, the only chance, to get rid of the bandages he got at his birth.
Christy is a stubborn person, but he always thinks first at his mother and his family before he decides to do something extraordinary, e.g. to go in an expensive hospital or make trips. So he is an almost perfect social person, at least in his family.
Christy's Mum: She was the mother of 22 born children. 17 lived,four died in infancy, and her tenth child was born with cerebral palsy.
She had black hair, sparkling blue eyes and lightness of step. She was unconquerable.Christy's Mum was a very good character.She was very social, tried to help her family where she could, a perfect mother and also very religious. Mrs. Brown believed in Christie, that he was not an idiot, and that only his body was shattered, not his mind.
Although she got no proof for her instinct she made everything possible for Christyand that besides her other children. She was such a good mother because she could feel the half of what her children, especially Christy, felt.
Christy's Dad: Christy's father was a bricklayer in Dublin. He didn't have much time for his wife nor his children but although he had not much time he cared for them whenever possible.He was very proud of his children, all of them! He was the one earning the money for the family, so he was the main person in the house.What he ordered or said, had to be done.
He also was the idol of his sons. All of them but Christy, got bricklayers
Christy's brothers: Tony, Peter, Paddy, Jim, Eamon, Seán, Francis and Danny.
Christy's sisters: Lily, Ann, Peggy and Mona.
Tony: He was a wild kid. He was always getting into trouble, at home and outdoors. He was a bit of a Romeo. He had all the girls in the neighbourhood running after him, though he didn't care a rap for any of them, not even for Nancy who was considered the belle of the place. Tony was the most handsome of the whole Brown Family. He was a tall swallowfaced young fellow, very strong, very quicktempered, with curly black hair, big hands and white teeth that flashed when he smiled or laughed.
Everyone was a little in awe of him, and Christy made him his first hero, also because he was never afraid to speak with his fists as a last opportunity.
Peter: One of Christy's little brothers, one year younger. He was Christy's favourite brother because being almost the same age, they could hit and shout each other without any restraint, and thus Peter came to know Christy better than any of the other siblings.But Peter changed with the years, he became more dignified and a lot more inaccessible for Christy. Peter tried to play the mouth organ in his spare time.
Lily: She was one of Christy's sisters. In the beginning she was a little dark haired girl who often wheeled her brother through the neighbourhood, through the banks of the canal. She put pennies on his eyes to get him asleep.She was like a little mother for Christy and the other children and helped Mrs. Brown where she could.
When she grew older, she became a woman, engaged to be married.
Mona: One of Christy's sisters. As a girl she was plump, fluffy - haired and small with fat cheeks and pudgy hands. With 17 already she changed into a pretty young lady with lipstick and powder and enormous high - heels. She had various dates, almost every night, and she loved to go dancing better than anything else.
Eamon: He was six years younger than Christy. Eamon started writing for Christy when he was twelve, after Christy had helped him with his homework.Eamon is a nice character.
Seán: Another brother, he also helped Christy in writing down what he was dictated. Seán helped Christie in maths and algebra too, because he was very good at maths at school.So he did all the "dirty work" for Chrity who only corrected the answers.
Francis: He was a short - trousered schoolboy, as he started writing for Christy, but he was different form Eamon and Seán, who just wrote down what Christy said. He thought about what he wrote, and critizised Christy.
Sally and Charly: At a Hallowe'en party they got tricked by Christy.As they were loving each other in the bathtub, he turned on the water and got out of the pantry before he could be seen by one of them.
Charly had hob - nailed boots, and he was a sissy to stay with a girl rather than with the other boys.Sally had tawny curls, was twelve years old and had red cheeks.
Neither Sally nor Charly ever came to Christy's house after that again. o
"Henry": Was the old go - car of Christy. He gave his go - car the name after his eighth birthday. It was an ugly battered old thing that nobody ever treated well. It was always being kicked, knocked over, shoved about and trampled on. Everybody joked about it. But for Christy it was something loveable, almost human.
Old "Henry", as Christy called him, was his throne.
Katriona Delahunt: She was a young girl when Christy met her first, about 18. She was slim and tall, lovely and moreover had a lovely smile.
Katriona was an almoner's student at the Rotunda Hospital. That's why she came to know about Christy. She met Christy's mother there and learnt about him and his left foot painting.Kateriona helped Christy in the lifetime, when he needed someone like her very much.
She was Christy's first dream girl.She was a person for whom Christy would have done everything. After her marriage she became Mrs. Maguire, and Christy was very jealous of her husband.
Jenny: She was Christy's second dream girl. She was not that tall and beautiful as Katriona, but more Christy's age.
She lived a few doors away from the Brown Family. She was small, energetic,gory, she had a mass of brown curls and an elfin face with lively green eyes and pouting lips. Unfortunately Jenny was a coquette; she start a riot among all the boys in Christy's street by just using her lovely eyes in the right way.
"Cherry Ripe": She was the nurse on the plane to Lourdes. Christy gave her this nickname. She had dark eyes, fair hair with golden curls and a sweet smile. He met her on the trip to Lourdes, and had never seen her again, although he gave her his address that she could get her picture he painted for her.
Dr Robert Collis: He was a well built, friendly man, with grey - green eyes, which seemed to Christy, could look into a person while observing the outside.
Dr. Collis saw Christy as a baby and later at a film - show.So he searched for him to tell him that he knew a treatment against cerebral palsy. He was the founder of the Merrion Street Clinic and chief of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Ireland. He was not only a doctor but also a famous author.
Mrs. Eirene Collis: She was the sister - in - law of Dr.Collis. She lived and worked as a well - known specialist in cerebral palsy in London. She was a small thin woman with greying hair, a handsome face and a light springy step. Her slow smile, her complete naturalness and casual manners made Christy, as he met her the first time, feel secure.
Dr Louis Warnants: A young man, tall, handsome, with a certain military bearing that impressed even while it subduded Christy a little. He was slow and deliberate in his movements and his whole manner suggested an easy confidence that communicated itself to those about him. He also was a very nice gentleman and his manners were impenable.
Dr. Warnants drew up a special line of treatment for Christy at home, as long as there was no special clinic built.
Mr. Gallagher: He was young, small - sized, with sandy hair and a thin pleasant face. He and Christy became very good friends. He helped Christy a great deal in his struggle, Christy connected his name with something friendly, understanding.
Sheila: She had fair hair. She was a little above average height, brown haired and green - eyed. Her features were of almost classical beauty;they seemed so clear - cut to Christy as he saw her first in the clinic, so finely chiselled and defined as to have been sculptured out of pure white marble.Sheila was the most beautiful girl Christy had ever seen. She was a university graduate.
Mr. Guthrie: He was a short stocky freshcomplexioned man of about middle age, with keen blue eyes and a humurous mouth. His movements were deliberate and precise. His arched eyebrows were expressive, his whole face seemed lit with a keen intelligence and a keener sympathy. He had a deep resonant voice.
Mr.Guthrie was Christy's teacher. The relationship that grew between them was friendly, practical and unassuming.
Miss Dorothy Henderson: She was physiotherapist in the Merrion Street Clinic. She was a very important little person and very charming too. She had an agile mind, that took everything in.
Other persons: Bernie, Dr. Mary O'Donnell, Miss Barbara Allen, Mrs. France Prince, Dr.Patricia Sheehan, Miss Joyce McCroy, Miss Una Kennedy, Sid Mac - Keogh, Robbie Collis, Mr. John Huston, Burl Ives.

Plot synopsis:
Christy Brown had a difficult birth in the Rotunda Hospital on June 5th,1932. He and his mum almost died but they survived both. Christy was not baptized until his mother was well enough to bring him to church.
Four months after Christy's birth his mum noticed that his head had a habit of falling backwards. She became aware of other diseases later on. At Christy's twelfth month Mrs.Brown told her husband about it. They began to take him to hospitals and clinics.
Although all doctors told Christy's parents that he was dumb and crippled, a lost case, his parents, especially his mum, believed in her son. They agreed that they would treat their son on the same plane like the others.
The first years were a hard time for the whole family and again esp. For Ch's mum. She tried to teach him animal -, flower -, and person names out of picture books. As she got no sign of understanding from her son, she almost gave up. As friends of the family started to speak of an institution, Mrs. Brown insisted on her son not being an idiot. She told them that his body was shattered not his mind.
With five years, in the afternoon of a cold, grey December day, Christy Showed his family the first time that he had besides his body also an intelligence. He took the yellow chalk out of his sister's hand - with his left foot - and drew with the chalk between the toes of his left foot on the floor. Everybody looked at him as if he were the Eighth World Wonder.
His sister Mona drew an "A" in front of him and told him to copy. After a few tries Christy Did it. He drew the letter "A". His mother started to teach him the whole alphabet. Soon he was able to write his initials (C B) and his first word by his own. He learnt many words of objects he saw and every word he learnt he showed his mother. There was one word that made Mrs. Brown proud of her son: MOTHER.
When Christy was seven, his brothers took him out with them, so that Christy Could start to associate with children of his age. His brothers pushed him through the streets by a rusty old go - car they called his "chariot".CHRISTY loved his go - car, so he named it " Henry".
The kids of the Brown Family and the other kids from the same street played many games together and had a lot of fun. Once, at Hallowe'en Night,
when Christywas eight, and Mr.and Mrs. Brown were out, the kids made a little party with some pals. When they played hide - and - seek, Sally told Mona that she would hide herself in the pantry where noone would dream of looking for. Christy heard that and crawled there as quickly as possible because he wanted to play a trick on Sally.
After one of the boys,Charly, got in the pantry too, Christy Turned on the water when both, Charly and Sally were in the bath.
Christy Mother tried to get her son interrested in catechism, but that never appealed to him as much as the story of King Lir for example. Christy also liked watching a movie in the cinema. His brothers carried him on their back there. Once Peter pinched a pack of cigarettes from his father and he and his brothers smoked it in the cinema. They also gave Christy One but he ate the cigarete and grinned, waiting for more. He got no more.
When Christy Was about 8 a half when he and his brothers made a little trip to the near canal to swim. Christy's brothers placed him on a point where he could see all that went on.
Suddenly Christy Felt the same way as he had felt on the day when he first drew the letter "A" - a queer eagerness, an unconscious determination to do what others were doing. So Tony helped him. Jim borrowed him his togs, Tony wrapped them round Christy And finally swung him into the canal. Christy Did quite well, and it wasn't his last swim for he had many others in a little rocky stream which they discovered one summer in a wood.
One day Henry broke down: the axle snapped, the seat collapsed and nobody could do anything with it. With that Christy's life changed a lot. He started thinking. He now realized that he was somehow different from the others. He was about ten years old as he thought about that he was a cripple.
ChristyStarted to compare his body parts with those of his siblings.
A few weeks after this Mrs.Brown managed to buy Christy a new car but taking CHRISTY out was not the same as before. He became more sensitive, more apprehensive to those he met outside his home. He had become a spectator instead of one of the participants.
So Christy went out no more, except once or twice a year. Christy's mum noticed the change of her son, Christy was sure she knew why, but she said nothing. She understood him better than anyone else. Ch: was ten and a half and beginning to sink deeper and deeper into himself and nothing could rouse him.
Then, one Christmas, Paddy got a box of paints and Christy a box of toy soldiers .At the moment Christy saw the paintbox he fell in love with it.
Because Paddy didn't like the paints, they changed presents and both were happy.
One quiet afternoon Christy started to paint. His mother got him some paper and water. He found a new way to communicate with the outside world.
As time went on, he became more and more advanced in painting. He read books and practised a lot. When Christy was about eleven, his mother became ill, and was shifted to the Rotunda Hospital, where a few weeks later she gave birth to her last child, a boy, completing the total of twenty - two. She remained ill.
Without Mrs.Brown at home the house seemed to go dead.
One day it knocked at the door and Miss Katriona Delahunt stood outdoors. She had heard at the hospital that Christy painted with his left foot and so wanted to meet Christy. She had also another motive in coming. Mrs.Brown was very worried about her family, so Katriona came and made Christy to write a little note for his mum.
Next time she came she brought a whole load of paints and brushes and drawing books along with the good news that Mrs.Brown was improving.
Christy's mind began to stretch itself. He understood more about himself and the scenes that went on about him.
Painting became one great love in his life. It was the fact that he painted ,not just to please himself, but to please someone else: the feeling of being useful. Most of the paintings from this time of his life he gave to Katriona, his dream girl.
One day Christy read in the Sunday Independent of a painting contest. The task was to colour an ordinary black - and - white reproduction of a grey ballroom scene with Cinderella and her Prince Charming.
Christysaw the picture already finished before he started but he didn't want to have anything to do with the competition. As long as Miss Delahunt said he should.
It was an ultimatum for him.
A few days later some reporters came to check out if it was true that Christy had painted the picture with his left foot. As they saw him on the kitchen table surrounded by his brushes and colours, they were convinced and took some pictures of him. Next Sunday Christy was in the newspapers, as winner of the drawing competition.
With thirteen another dream girl had come into Christy's mind. Jenny. He worshipped her from his bedroom window, what made him lazy in painting. One day she smiled up to his window and after he had managed to smile back, she threw him a kiss. He took an old jotter and that's how the short relationship started. They exchanged innumerable little notes and saw each other every Saturday night.
One night Peter got suspicious and went outside. As he saw them together, he slammed the door angrily and in the following weeks he tried to discourage Christy by telling him many wicked tales about poor little Jenny. What he didn't know was that Jenny broke up her relationship to Christy that evening he saw them.
Christy didn't hear from her anything for a long time.
Life at home was changing too. It seemed to Christy that everyone had grown up all of a sudden. His brothers became men, his sisters became women and before Christy knew it, he was fifteen. His mum managed to give a party where some of his old pals came along.
Christy didn't like the party because it made him conscious that he was no longer a child but neither was he a grown - up. He realized that he was poised between the blissful ignorance of childhood and the awakening pain and frustration of adolescence.
Christy went on painting but painting had also changed. He still liked it but he didn't love it any more. One day, in a fit of despair, he tried to jump out of his bedroom window to kill himself. A short moment before he jumped ,
he thought of Katriona Delahunt... He got down from the window and began to cry like a baby.
A long time after Christy was sixteen, a new idea invaded his mind: to write stories, so he sat down with a sixpenny jotter and began to write down whatever came into his head. That's how he started writing stories. First American Wild West, then sentimental, and then detective thrillers.
Short after Christy's seventeenth birthday Katriona Delahunt came once again to visit Christy but she had an enagement ring on her finger. Some months later, on a fine June morning, she married and was now no longer Miss Delahunt but Mrs. Maguire. Christy was very jealous of Mr. Maguire, a kind man.
The months went by and family life kept changing. Christy felt more and more like in a prison at home. Then it happened. Mrs. Maguire came to him and said ," Christy, what about your going to Lourdes?"
It was a great experience for Christy He really enjoyed Lourdes. He met a great number of people there but most of them were suffering. He saw that he was not the only person suffering in this world and that others had bigger pains than he had.
But all this turned very fast only to be a memory. At home he was surrounded, not by a great multitude of the afflicted, but by his family, strong, healthy, normal individuals who made him feel rather like a puppet in contrast. Christy felt like a bird locked in his cage again.
A few weeks later, on Thursday evening, doctor Collis appeared in Christy's life. He told him that there was a new treatment for cerebral palsy and that it was possible - if Christy wanted to - to be cured. The only thing was that Christy had to want to. This was no problem.
Everybody in the Brown's house was happy. That night, before Christy went to sleep, he prayed a prayer of thankfulness - a repentance for having doubted.
Next day his treatment started with Dr. Warnants who came to his home once a week. Dr. Warnants made Christy go through exercises and pointed out to him where he went wrong. After some weeks Dr.W. mentioned that either Christy grew too big or the house too small.
Christy's mum knew that and so she started saving money and after she got apart of the money she needed to build a small house in the back yard, she simply started. When her husband and her sons came home from work, seing their mum doing their job, they told her to go back to her dishes and went on building Christy's house. If Christy's mum hadn't started, they would never have built the house.
After being finished, the furniture moved in piece by piece and Christy started to live in there.He started to read because he had enough place for himself now.
One day Dr.Collis decided to send Christy over to London to see Mrs. Eirene Collis ,a specialist on cerebral palsy, before starting a full - scale rehabilitation programme.
Mrs.Collis decided on Christy's future and she decided that Christy would be healed if he wanted. But Christy had to give Mrs. Collis a promise. He had to promise that he would never use his left foot again.
Back in Dublin agaib, his treatment in the clinic started. Although Christy was the oldest among the other children he started scaling the walls that surrounded him down. He was breaking lose from them. But Christy also realized that no matter how well he might conquer his handicap he would never be a normal individual leading a normal life because his lack of really "normal" human expression and relationship.
One effect of the clinic upon Christy was that his mind was full of ideas and because he wanted to tell everybody about it, he thought about how to bring it to paper. He decided to let his brothers write for him down what he dictated them. As an exchange he helped them with their homework.
So Christy started to write his autobiography. But it was everything else but perfect. Driven by this fact he wrote his S O S letter to Dr.Collis and asked him for help. He came and helped where he could. In these times Christy became to know that Dr. Collis was also a famous author of some well - known books, to say, a teacher with experience. Dr.C. brought Christy some good books which he should read to improve his writing style. That helped. After reading many different books, after having received many lessons by Robert Collis, Robert mentioned that Christy's education was too tiny to develop his talent. All education Christy ever had was learning the alphabet from his mother at the age of five. So Robert Collis organized a man to school Christy with the help of Katriona Maguire. It was Mr Guthrie who taught Christy in all different types of lessons. After this official programme they stayed on for a while and discussed many things.
Because of talking much more and because of going through many exercises in the Bull Alley Street Clinic his speech had become much better and also his uncoordinated movements became less.
Christy was not only improving his education but also working on his third version of "My Left Foot".
One evening when Christy felt particularly isolated, he started to use his left foot again because he wasn't able to express his feelings in words any more. Dr.Collis saw this but said that that wouldn't matter if he only used this option in cases when he had to.
After the third and final version of the first chapter was finished, Christy was about to hit the audience. Dr.Collis got the chance to hokld a speech about cerebral palsy on the Burl Ives' Concert in Dublin. But instead of an ordinary speech he would like to read them the first chapter Christy's book. Christy gave his okay, also that he would be sitting near the podest, in front of the audience.
And that was how it happened. Everybody in the audience listened fascinated to Dr.R.Collis's reading of a book written by a crippled person. After having finished and somebody had brought forward a huge bouquet of roses, the doctor stopped and took them. He walked over to Christy's mother and held up his hand. "I think you will agree, that there is only one thing to be done - Red Roses for Mrs.Brown! For you, Ma'am!"
Ideas, opinions and comments:

I enjoyed the book because it was written very realistic and truthful, but also moving and sometimes funny, in a way. While reading the book there is a constant romantic feeling as well.
I can really recommend the book to all people but they should be over the age of 15 or 16 so that they are able to understand the meaning of this book.

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