Sunday, 2 September 2012

Libby Purves: An Adult Third Culture Kid?

A while ago I discovered that Colin Firth, the actor in the film King's Speech was a third culture kid. He grew up in Nigeria, the United States and England. I like reading stories of the lived of people who grew up abroad just like I did. Today I read an article in the Dutch newspaper the NRC about Libby Purves. I am always really interested when I discover that someone was a third culture kid too. As a diploma's daughter Libby grew up in Israel, Bangkok, South Africa, France and England.

I am impressed by all the different things Libby Purves does or has accomplished. Here I name a few:
  1. She won a scholarship to St. Anne's College in Oxford.
  2. She presents the program Midweek on BBC radio 4. In 1978 she became the youngest ever presenter of radio 4s Today programme.
  3. She writes a column for The Times newspaper.
  4. She has written a series of books on childcare. Her books on childcare and family life have been translated into eleven languages worldwide. Like the Spanish book "Cómo no ser una madre perfecta".
  5. She has written eleven novels including Mother Country, and a travel book, One Summer's Grace, about a 1,700-mile sailing journey round Britain with children aged three and five. Here's a list of more books she has written.
I discovered that Libby has written a Personal Memoir called "Holy Smoke: Religion and Roots". 

This is the book description on Amazon:  
'Middle Age' writes Libby Purves 'is a fine high vantage point for looking back. The official passing of another thousand years away from Bethlehem is a stimulus to thinking about Christianity'. In this fascinating and very personal book she does both: recalling her childhood in convents around the world with stories of nuns amid the gilded temples of Bangkok, rations of beer for nine-year-olds after High Mass in France and convent life in South Africa at the height of apartheid. As adults many Catholic girls of this generation gave up on religion, embracing agnosticism and the Pill with equal enthusiasm. The author describes Oxford in the late '60s, political idealism and religious disillusion; and traces the encounters that have shaped her thinking, and how, ironically, the scandals in the Church brought her closer to her childhood faith.
This sounds like an interesting book. Has anyone read this personal memoir? 

I was surprised to discover that Libby Purves has battled with depression all her life. After her son committed suicide she wrote a novel on bereavement Shadow Child."There is no solution to grief".

Here are some general characteristics on third culture kids: education and career as found on Wikipedia. These statistics are for U.S. TCKs:
  • TCKs are 4 times as likely as non-TCKs to earn a bachelor's degree (81% vs 21%)[27]
  • 40% earn an advanced degree (as compared to 5% of the non-TCK population.)[21]
  • 45% of TCKs attended three universities before attaining a degree.[21]
  • 44% earned undergraduate degree after the age of 22.[21]
  • Education, medicine, business management, self-employment, and highly-skilled positions are the most common professions for TCKs.[21]
  • TCKs are unlikely to work for big business, government, or follow their parents' career choices. "One won't find many TCKs in large corporations. Nor are there many in government ... they have not followed in parental footsteps".[21]

The reason that I have added the statistics is because I am so impressed by all the different things Libby Puves has accomplished. It sounds like she is an ambitious and highly skilled person. I have read that many adult third culture kids are highly ambitious. Libby has had to battle depression all her life, it makes me wonder whether that has anything to do with her growing up as a third culture kid? I don't know, but it does make me wonder.

Are you a highly ambitious adult third culture kid? Have you had to battle depression? Do you think it helps adult third culture kids to write about their youth?

Related posts:


  1. Ambitious,yes. Depression, yes. And i like writing about how i grew up. So i score on all of the points!

  2. Well I would say I'm ambitious too. I was a little depressed when I first came to the Netherlands, but it was mixed in with a serious bout of reverse culture shock which I did not know anything about! I started this blog over a year ago and I have discovered that I really enjoy writing about growing up abroad, meeting other TCKs and bloggers online, like you. If there's anyone reading this who can read Dutch then you should hop over to Elise her blog, there she tells her story of growing up in Africa!

  3. Interesting,its amazing who is a TCK! As to the characteristics I can answer yes to all of those :) Book should be on its way by the way

  4. Hello, there are more TCKs around than we know! They can be quite hidden (just like I was a hidden immigrant years ago). Among the expats there are TCKs too, just like you: quite international! For anyone interested Windmill Tales is a lovely blog written by an expat mum living in the Netherlands. Blogging about Life in Holland and parenting bilingual children. I recently won a bilingual book on her blog, wow! I'm looking forward to it and so is our daughter.