The Freud the world and his family forgot
Stephen, the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the world's best-known shrink, lived a life of total anonymity for 40 years until The Sunday Telegraph tracked him down recently.Updated: Jul 13, 2008 16:45 IST
Sherlock Holmes, the mythical, lived on Baker Street. Stephen Freud, the real, lived just off it.
Stephen Freud is the grandson of the world's best-known shrink who lived a life of total anonymity for 40 years until The Sunday Telegraph tracked him down recently.
Even till last week, Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopaedia, was asserting that "Ernst Freud had two children, the broadcaster Clement Freud and the painter Lucian".
Now it is official. Sigmund's son Ernst sired three sons and Stephen is the oldest of them all.
At 86, Stephen is the only Freud not up there among London's who's who.
The grandfather needs no introduction. His younger brother Lucian is a famous artist whose painting recently fetched the maximum price ever paid for a living artist's work. Lucian's daughter Esther is a famous novelist, and sister Bella is a well-known fashion designer.
The other sibling, Sir Clement, is a former MP and famous broadcaster. His daughter Emma is a broadcaster in her own right who married Richard Curtis, screenwriter of the film, "Four Weddings And a Funeral".
The son, Matthew, runs one of London's best PR agencies but is better known for marrying Elisabeth, daughter of Rupert Murdoch.
Stephen remained out of the limelight all these years apparently because of falling out with Lucian. He does not reveal much except that Sir Clement was the only kin he has seen, on and off, all this while.
He studied history at Cambridge and fought in Italy in World War II. Coming out of the army, he bought a store selling ironmongery, off Baker Street. That's where he was till five years ago, when he finally retired.
His only passion in life is golf and he met Anna, who later became his second wife, at a gold club. His first wife Lois divorced him, perhaps because of his betting addiction.
He has a solace in his daughter Dorothy, who is a double first at Cambridge and teaches special children.
He is reluctant to be drawn on his family life. "To describe what it was like living with one's brothers, one has to have lived with more than one lot. We got on passably well."
He never sought their fame, he insists.
"I am pleased for them, but I didn't want to share their limelight. One doesn't. It's a question of not stepping into somebody else's shoes."
It's difficult not to wonder whether living in his family's shadow has been painful. "I'm happy with my own achievements," he says quietly. "I have lived an interesting life. I have done the things I wanted to do."