OU founder dreams up a novel idea

Octogenarian Ruth Finnegan from Bletchley who has written her first novel
Octogenarian Ruth Finnegan from Bletchley who has written her first novel

Octogenarian anthropologist and OU professor Ruth Finnegan has written her first novel – Black Inked Pearl – after the story was revealed in a series of dreams.

The grandmother-of-five, who lives at Church Green Road in Bletchley, said: “I had extraordinarily powerful dreams every night for seven weeks.

Black Inked Pearl by Ruth Finnegan

Black Inked Pearl by Ruth Finnegan

“They came to me with intense waves of feeling and emotion, when you’re in that state between sleeping and waking.

“It was almost as if it was being dictated to me on an invisible tape and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to interfere with it, although I made a few minor changes.

“It was a sequence of visions – like non-verbal tableaux – which I turned into the written word.

“And although my name is on it, it feels as if it was something that was already existing a millenium ago.”

Black Inked Pearl is described as an epic romance about a naive Irish girl and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking.

Ruth herself was born in Northern Ireland and is Emeritus Professor in Social Sciences at the OU. She and her husband David were among the founding academics of the distance learning institution.

She is an Honorary Fellow of her alma mater, Somerville College in Oxford, and did anthropological work in Africa and Fiji. Her opus Oral Literature in Africa, first published in 1970, is regarded as one of the most important books in its field.

The energetic author has written several academic volumes, including a study of amateur musicians in Milton Keynes. It was the focus of an international conference organised by the OU Music department.