Pianist wins right to publish child abuse memoir

Pianist wins right to publish child abuse memoir


norman lebrecht

May 20, 2015

The British pianist James Rhodes has overcome an injunction by his ex-wife to win the right to publish an autobiography containing accounts of his abuse as a child. His ex-wife had sought to stop publication, claiming it might affect the wellbeing of their 11 year-old son.

She fought the case all the way up to the UK Supreme Court, which has just ruled in James’s favour.


The ruling reads: The only proper conclusion is that there is every justification for the publication. A person who has suffered in the way that the appellant has suffered, and has struggled to cope with the consequences of his suffering in the way that he has struggled, has the right to tell the world about it. And there is a corresponding public interest in others being able to listen to his life story in all its searing detail.

James Rhodes said: Clearly this is a victory for freedom of speech. More importantly it is a powerful message to survivors of sexual abuse. There is already too much stigma and shame surrounding mental health and sexual abuse, and although I am horrified that it has taken 14 months of overwhelming stress and expense, I am relieved that our justice system has finally seen sense and not only allowed me to tell my story but affirmed in the strongest possible way that speaking up about one’s own life is a basic human right. I hope the book will help fellow survivors of rape find the courage to speak up. And I hope it will inspire those in pain to find solace in music and togetherness.

james rhodes instrumental

The book will be published next week.

James was accompanied to court by the eye-catching actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who said: ‘We have been friends since school. I am here to give my support. It is a very emotional moment. It is a searing vindication of freedom of speech.’


  • Marie says:

    It’s unfortunate [redacted: legal] his ex-wife and a popular writer, was allowed to censor this book for the time the injunction was in effect. The fact that one writer would consider censoring another is very troubling. One loses all respect for a writer who even considers censoring another.