‘Have you read that cholera has already reached Naples? Will you be giving it a wide berth?’ So wrote Anna Freud (aged 14) in September 1910 to her father, then travelling in the south. Anna was Sigmund’s youngest child and the only one of his six to train as a psychoanalyst. She became a custodian of his movement, a pioneer of child analysis, and co-founder of the Hampstead Nurseries, which offered refuge to homeless families during the Second World War. She was well known for her fierce quarrels with Melanie Klein, whose ideas were to have a profound impact on British psychoanalysis. Anna also proved influential in this country and to a still greater extent in the United States. She never married, nor did she ever permanently leave her parental home. After she died in 1982, her – their – residence in London became the Freud Museum. Sigmund called Anna his ‘Antigone’, which captured something of her unswerving dedication.
Their letters, postcards and occasional telegrams to one another, spanning a 34-year period, have been assembled in this remarkable book, just translated from the German. In that same teenage letter mentioned above, Anna expressed her fears that Sigmund’s then travelling companion and colleague, Sándor Ferenczi, was not looking after him.