A photograph of Patti Smith aged 11.
Smith was ill for a lot of her childhood - sick with bronchitis, tuberculosis, scarlet fever and ‘three different kinds of measles’. Though she has claimed she was happy throughout her childhood, Smith did, for a time, think of herself as “alien to the human race”, as she explained in an interview with the Observer in 2005:
‘From very early on in my childhood - four, five years old - I felt alien to the human race. I felt very comfortable with thinking I was from another planet, because I felt disconnected - I was very tall and skinny, and I didn’t look like anybody else, I didn’t even look like any member of my family.’