Royal Society

Bringing up baby

Is the understanding of children a science or an art? Emma Donoghue’s seventh novel, Room, which has been garlanded with prizes and has sold over a million copies, explores the mind of a five-year-old, Jack, whose whole world is an 11 ft-square garden shed shared with his mother. Donoghue drew inspiration from ancient myths and from the horrific crimes of Josef Fritzl, but she has described the locked room as ‘a metaphor for the claustrophobic, tender bond of parenthood’, and much of the novel was based on close observation of her son, Finn.