Until now authors stalking reviewers had largely remained in cyber space rather than face-to-face. Kathleen Hale spent money finding the address a writer of a one-star review of Hale’s book, hired a car and landed on the doorstep of an understandably shocked and flabbergasted victim, who was then further victimised by Hale’s disturbingly vivid account of her obsessive and criminal actions in the Guardian which failed to remove identifying information.
Richard Brittain took this one giant leap further.
❺ The reviewer says Brittain was detained and released on bail.
❻ On October 16th Brittain posted ‘A Statement of Remorse’ (Google cache) via a phone, a public apology acknowledging his wrongdoing, accepting he has psychological problems, and claims to be seeking treatment. He also stated that he may delete his more disturbing and deluded blog posts detailing his obsession and stalking behaviour, which were brought to the media’s attention by Jezebel.
❼ October 20th saw Brittain post ‘A Re-Evaluation of Romance’ (Google cache) which explains that the book the one-star review was based on was actually about his ‘love’, the object of his unrequited affections despite her ‘repeated rejections’. He admits what he’s said and done is ‘unforgivable’. He believes his behaviour seems to have been influenced by the clichéd romance trope in film and literature where the hero aggressively pursues the heroine until she gives in and falls in love with him. For those not completely in tune with reality, like he was, that representation of romance normalises what is criminal harassment and stalking by promoting it as acceptable.
From what I gather, Brittain took the train to Glasgow from London to approach the woman he was stalking and then took a bus to attack this reviewer in Fife, after which he returned to London. Unless this trip was booked weeks in advance, he spent at least £130 on the train tickets with a travel time of between 4½ and 5½ hours each way. Had he taken flights it would’ve cost at least £29 more but taken a fraction of the time – 1½ hours. That investment of time and money takes some dedication.
Comparing the actions of Hale and Brittain, I’m left to conclude that while Brittain is a much more serious case, seriously harming his victim who’s lucky to be alive and without long-term damage, if all of the above is true, then I think I’m more satisfied with his behaviour in the aftermath.
Hale is unapologetic and ‘proud’ of herself despite knowing what she did was wrong and appears to lack empathy for her victim. No mention of her seeking help with her obsessional personality, as evidenced in her frankly unsettling articles which blur reality and fantasy, is worrying because if those articles are largely true accounts of her personal history, then she desperately needs psychological help before she walks Brittain’s path of violence.
Brittain, on the other hand, seems to have had an epiphany, a major shift in his world view, after the countless negative responses to the Jezebel article, the ensuing media coverage, and perhaps his alleged brush with the law may have had him see a psychologist while in custody or on bail.
Access to help for Hale would be less of a problem for her as a privileged, Harvard-educated individual with powerful connections whereas had Brittain sought help from the NHS earlier he wouldn’t have received it in a timely manner. Cognitive behavioural therapy, depending on where you live, has waiting lists anything from a few months to years long – too late to prevent his violent attack. It’s troubling that he had to attack someone before he was given the treatment he needed.