Jane Birkin


In a recent interview Jane describes where the picture on the cover of her album Enfants d’Hiver, was taken (it shows her as a child clutching an apple).“In the Isle of Wight, where we would spend our summers. I think I was 11 or 12. We had a cottage there (Bank Cottage, Hulverstone). They were sublime times for me.”

Many of the songs focus on Jane’s childhood holidays in Brook and Hulverstone with her brother and sister, Andrew and Linda, and her mother, the celebrated West End actress Judy Campbell, and father, David, a former Royal Navy lieutenant-commander who was awarded the Légion d’Honneur for his role in the war.    

“When people say, ‘Where would you like to go in your life?’ I’d like to go back to being a child again. We were allowed to be savages. We used to get up at six in the morning and get on our bikes, and we just went to discover things. Wrecks in the Isle of Wight – we were in the very wild part of the Island - there was black sand and there were wrecks from the last war. One day there was a porcupine washed up on the beach and we tied it on to our bikes with a few mines that we’d found on the beach.

We didn’t stay on the chic side of the Island, but near Brook beach, where we would ramble and have adventures together – it was wonderful. Being a 12 year old on a bike on the Isle of Wight with my brother and sister and Ma and Pa is for me the epitome of happiness. I wanted to be like my brother Andrew and was always borrowing his clothes. Now I can cut my hair off and be roughly the same. The bits in between, the films, my time with Serge [Gainsbourg], everybody knows about that, but they don’t know about my childhood. It’s a country you can never go back to. I tried to recreate that time in Normandy for my children Kate and Charlotte when they were tiny.... I wanted them to be able to go off and get into abandoned houses, like I used to with my brother; or to be able to play with old prams, like I did with my sister, with nobody to nag them. They’d come back for Marmite on toast and a warm bath, then they could just buzz off and enjoy themselves. The best childhood you can have doesn’t involve expensive holidays in Mallorca. It’s not beaches and suntans – it’s being allowed to be wild.”