Jeanette Winterson considered suicide

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Author Jeanette Winterson has said she thought about killing herself several years ago after the break-up of a relationship and the discovery of more details about her adoption.

The writer, who recently revealed she was in a relationship with Susie Orbach, said she saw herself “between two dark spaces” after splitting from theatre director Deborah Warner in 2007 and told friends she needed to die by suicide.

In an interview with the Guardian, she revealed that she had also just discovered she had been brought up for six months by her biological mother before being adopted.

She said: “I saw myself between two dark spaces. One dark space was suicide. The other was pretending to myself there was nothing wrong and carrying on my life without confronting that darkness. I had to be in that space where suicide was really an option for overcoming unbearable mental pain.

“I learned I had been brought up for months, and even breastfed, by my mother. That was overwhelming to me.”

Winterson, whose most famous novel is Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, about a lesbian teenager coming of age, also revealed that she had heard from five readers who said the book had stopped them from killing themselves.

She said: “I read recently that only 30 per cent of British people are bothered by same-sex relationships. When I wrote Oranges it was 60 per cent.

“I worry, though, about young boys using the term ‘gay’ nowadays to disparage anyone who’s sensitive or unusual. It shows there’s a lingering homophobia in our society.”

On her relationship with Orbach, a psychotherapist, she said: “I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it.

“Susie calls herself post-heterosexual. I like that description because I like the idea of people being fluid in their sexuality. I don’t for instance consider myself to be a lesbian. I want to be beyond those descriptive constraints.”