• Patricia Grayhall

Who is Duchess Goldblatt?


Duchess Goldblatt is a fictional, 81-year-old woman from the 17th century who dispenses love, wisdom, and pithy one-liners on social media. The anonymous woman behind this fictional character expresses her highest self through her brief posts. She brings an evergreen source of light and joy to an often-rancorous social media landscape, even as she is awash in grief for the losses she has just experienced.

Then, in the summer of 2020 when real life is looking rather bleak indeed, her memoir Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is published. With wit, vulnerability, and candor, she relates the devastation of her own life while continuing to dispense encouragement and wisdom to others, describing her fictional Duchess as a star and cultural icon.

Duchess Goldblatt tweets, “I try to keep my abiding love for all humanity in one place but somehow it ends up in piles on the dining room table.”

She instructs her young son and her followers that everyone has in them a spark of the divine. If he finds he is turning against someone, he should think of three good things he can say about that person. Also, she instructs him (and us) not to gossip or make jokes at someone else’s expense as it just makes the teller mean and small.

People turn to Duchess Goldblatt for advice and help, but she reminds them that she is a mere human like them, saying kind, soothing things in the voice of the fictional Duchess. She reminds them she does not exist beyond what she can put on the page, one tidbit at a time. However, it is astonishing to me how much people need to believe in her, even knowing that she is a fiction.

What I most enjoyed about this memoir is that she told a touchingly sad story with wit and humor about her family of origin, her mentally ill brother who committed suicide, her failed marriage, and her difficulty finding loyal supportive friends. All the while she is evolving into a different persona entirely, one capable of attracting real-life loyal friends, realizing her dreams, and achieving success as a writer. She is no longer merely a fictional character on social media. I wish I could meet her in person, but she remains anonymous.

For the rest of us aspiring authors, the Duchess will be a tough act to follow. Her voice is unique, her story inspirational. I also have written a memoir using a pen name and have only recently claimed a presence on social media. I will also strive to express my unique voice, be enco