New BabyI figure I had better announce, before she starts popping up, without formal introduction, in photos of writers' graves or outhouses or whatever, that I have a daughter, born May 18, 2011. This is a surprise, and perhaps an additional comfort for my declining years, even if society does descend into the total barbarism and chaos that is frequently predicted. Her name is Susanna. One of Shakespeare's daughters was named Susannah, you may recall, though that had nothing to do with my daughter's name, in fact I did not remember it until after the fact. It does give it a certain poetic glamour though, I think, which cannot be harmful to its bearer. Susanna was also the name of the bride in The Marriage of Figaro. I am sure I will remember or come upon other ancient or modern Susannas who further add to this lustre.
Since I recounted when my last son was born all the books I was reading at the times of the children's various births (The Golden Bowl; Confessions of an English Opium-Eater; The Spectator; and The Tower of London), I should report that the reading on this occasion was On Approval by Frederick Lonsdale, which is a champagne-fizzy British drawing room comedy from 1927. There are worse omens to be born under. On the other hand, my wife's own mother was reading The Gulag Archipelago at the time she delivered Dearest, and this has not resulted in any ill-effects thus far, so most likely there is nothing in these literary circumstances that surround ones birth.