Helen Fielding is a Yorkshire-born journalist
... was a journalist... after the success of Bridget Jones she can do anything she likes... was a journalist, and worked on documentaries for the Comic Relief
projects in Ethiopia
, and Mozambique
. These first-hand experiences of both abject, mass-slaughtering famine
and the glitzy airhead
s of Western celebrity
gave her the material for her first novel, Cause Celeb
(1994), which is this sort of thing fictionalized. The lead character Rosie Richardson has much of her in it. It's funny sometimes, though don't expect more Bridget Jones, but what it shows very clearly is the decency
, intelligence, and compassion
of Helen Fielding. It in effect gives you more background to the person behind Bridget.
The columns in The Independent were attributed to Bridget Jones: it was her diary. No-one had ever heard of Fielding. She wrote them anonymously to eke out expenses to what she thought would be her next novel (which we haven't seen yet). As time went on the column built up a devoted cult following among readers, many of whom were smitten with Bridget. Only once the book of the columns came out (the first book representing about half of the Independent columns) was Helen Fielding's name bandied about. When she had become successful she took a better offer and moved the column to The Daily Telegraph, but by then the seam was mined, she wasn't allowed to write 'fuck', and her heart wasn't in it any more.
She is of course quite staggeringly rich now, yet there is necessarily a lot of Bridget in her. She once made the mistake of confiding to Julie Burchill "my biological clock is ticking", and Julie made a quite rude rejoinder in print. Naturally Helen Fielding says the similarities are exaggerated: "I don't drink, I don't smoke and I am a virgin, obviously."
She says she visualizes Bridget like the picture that went with the column, and is on the cover of the British edition: a profile almost turned away, with a small turned-up nose, a curl of hair hanging over the cheek, and a fag in one hand and a glass of chardonnay in the other. This mysterious image, hiding as much as it revealed, was part of the charm. The original was someone who only briefly worked at The Independent -- IIRC her name was Susannah Lewis, but I'm not sure where I could confirm that -- and she now lives in Spain, rather bemused at her anonymous fame.
Minor changes were made in the American edition of the books: weights in stone were changed to pounds, for example. But Helen Fielding wryly observed about Los Angeles:
Well it is very funny there. I come from Yorkshire in England where we like to eat chip sandwiches - white bread, butter, tomato ketchup and big fat french fries cooked in beef dripping. mmmm. mmm. In LA if you order the tiniest creme brulee they look at you as if you ordered engine oil and say "you know that contains DAIRY??"
So now you know about Bridget Jones's Dairy.