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Ettie: The Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough
     

Ettie: The Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough

by Richard Davenport-Hines
 

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Beautiful heiress, accomplished flirt, aristocratic hostess, tragic mother, and Edwardian icon, Ettie Desborough is a fascinating but forgotten figure. She has been celebrated in countless memoirs but this is the first biography of her, based on private family archives and letters. Ettie Fane was born in 1867 and orphaned at three. At 20 she married Willie

Overview

Beautiful heiress, accomplished flirt, aristocratic hostess, tragic mother, and Edwardian icon, Ettie Desborough is a fascinating but forgotten figure. She has been celebrated in countless memoirs but this is the first biography of her, based on private family archives and letters. Ettie Fane was born in 1867 and orphaned at three. At 20 she married Willie Grenfell, later Lord Desborough, a genial sportsman. Beautiful, rich, charming, and clever, she soon became the center of the group known as "the Souls" and a leading hostess at two magnificent country houses. She was the intimate friend of powerful leaders including Balfour, Curzon, and Churchill; the writers that she entertained included Wilde, Kipling, Wells, Yeats, and Sassoon. This is a portrait of a life which personified the last epoch of aristocratic glamour, elegance, and power that ended in 1914. But tragedy was not far away. In 1915 her son Julian died in France of war wounds. Six weeks later her second son Billy was killed in action. Her youngest son Ivo would be killed shortly after the war. Other deaths on the Western Front—of lovers and younger admirers—hurt her terribly too. But despite intense private misery, she reacted with outward courage and self-mastery. Grief revealed the greatness of her spirit. In the 1920s and 1930s she continued to collect new types, especially gifted young men, relishing people of all ages up to her death in 1952, a redoubtable survivor from a vanished age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Stirring history of . . . a woman of sophistication and beauty seemingly blighted with bad luck. The picture of English aristocratic determination, she remains uncowed to the end."  —Vogue UK 

"As Richard Davenport-Hines demonstrates triumphantly in this superb biography, Ettie Desborough's life is a compelling and moving story of love and loss as well as an important slice of social history, and deserves to be widely read . . . a joy to read, sparkling and fresh and full of good things. A real delight."  —Literary Review

"Intelligent and well-written . . . provides a rich and satisfying portrait of an age that now seems infinitely remote."  —The Spectator

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780297851745
Publisher:
Orion Publishing Group, Limited
Publication date:
08/28/2008
Pages:
488
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.50(h) x 3.90(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Davenport-Hines is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society and a past winner of the Wolfson Prize for History and Biography. He edited Hugh Trevor-Roper's Letters from Oxford.

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