Print and Audio Interviews
Find out some of the stories behind Lilli de Jong: the birth of the novel, what got left out, some things the author cares deeply about, and more.
Publishers Weekly, Mothers from the Past: PW Talks with Janet Benton
by Victoria Sandbrook Flynn
What advice would you share with fellow moms pursuing their own creative passions?
My advice to creative people is to choose a project that moves you deeply. In spite of the many real barriers, do it anyway, in tiny amounts, until more becomes possible. Believe in the power of what you care about. Your knowledge and your work matter.
F(r)iction, An Interview with Janet Benton
interview by Dani Hedlund
What was the origin of Lilli de Jong? Where did the idea come to life?
There were three major influences that let this idea come to me. One was having an infant. . . . the biological wallop you get when you have an infant was so powerful. And at that time . . . my husband gave me a copy of the New Yorker in which there was a review of scholarship on the history of the European family. . . . What is the cost to an infant when it is separated from its mother due to prejudice? Often, the cost was death . . . [T]he idea that a woman would be forced to give up her infant, who, at that time, had no safe alternative to a woman’s milk, affected me deeply.
Author Series, Free Library of Philadelphia
interview by Sam Katz
WHYY Radio Times LIVE interview
by Marty Moss-Coane
Liars Club Oddcast, with Janet Benton
March 2017, interview with Gregory Frost, Merry Jones, Jon McGoran, and Keith Strunk
Reading with Robin, A Podcast, with Janet Benton
interview by Robin Kall Homonoff
BookPage, A tale of motherhood set on the brink of modernity
by Lauren Bufferd
How did your own experience as a mother inform the novel?
Like Lilli, I nursed my daughter most of the day and night at first, and I barely slept. Like Charlotte, my daughter was highly alert at birth and developed quickly. I wrote in a diary about my daughter and used bits from that . . . Like Charlotte, my daughter smiled at first feeling the wind. I adored the dearness of her face as she nursed. She was and is unutterably dear to me.
PhillyVoice, Philly author's 'Lilli de Jong' is a new feminist classic
by Elizabeth Licorish
How did you research the fictionalized Philadelphia Haven for Women and Infants? How did it affect you emotionally to learn of these women’s struggles?
I went to the Pennsylvania Hospital’s archive, which holds many valuable records of the State Hospital for Women and Infants . . . I was deeply moved to read writings by the founders of this institution . . . They wrote that even murderers “with malice aforethought” were shown more pity and assistance than young girls who may have been raped or at worst were naïve . . .