Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Says She Abused Him, Stealing His Self-Esteem

Along with many other readers, I was enthralled by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel The Mists of Avalon soon after its 1983 release. Living in Berkeley, I knew people who knew Bradley, and when they spoke of attending parties and other events at her house, I envied them.

But now Bradley’s adult children are saying in interviews that their young lives were filled with torment and horrific abuse at the hands of their mother, who died in 1999. In the latest of these interviews, Bradley’s son Mark Greyland describes in terms whose vivid poetry makes them all the more tragic how the trauma of physical and mental abuse stole his self-esteem:

I was ashamed. When you are small you believe stuff, and I felt with my whole heart that I was responsible when she would go bad. … And that made every day a drama, a thick clogged tube of waiting for the dreadful, the un-nameable horror.

And nobody spoke. Everything was always fine and that was my clown suit. I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me. My echo chamber filled me with such fear of exposure I would do anything to make the shadow go away. And I did. The shame paints my world yellow and pink and brown. I don’t want to say these things any more.

Asked how he is faring currently, Mark explained:

I am not doing well. I am filled with frightened images of what everyone is thinking while reminding myself that no one can really tell how I feel even if I shout it from the rooftops. I stop and shiver and remember and try to focus on anything (Look! Squirrel!) that will keep me on the task at hand. I stop and stare and look in the mirror. I make art and write verses. … I see a paper shield with a target on it. I am waiting for the blade to fall, all over again. I worry that my friends will walk away ashamed of me. …

I am discovering that the keeping of secrets to hide shame is poison, and I am trying to recover from the echoes every day. You can too. I have learned it was not my fault when it happened and it is not your fault either. Free yourselves.



Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Says She Abused Him, Stealing His Self-Esteem — 3 Comments

  1. Wow, my life was informed by the Mists of Avalon. How sad to hear that the person behind the book loved by so many was responsible for assisting a known child rapist. Her poor grown children. I read an article after reading this where her daughter speaks about keeping this inside for all this time since she felt her life was so less significant then her Mother’s or the life of her books or her fans.

    It’s very sad indeed. I only hope now her adult children will begin to heal from some of this. There is power in telling your story.

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