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.

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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

Janet at WHYY for Radio Times interview

WHYY Radio Times LIVE interview


by Marty Moss-Coane 

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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

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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. 

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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 . . .