"The sort of girl I like to see," wrote John Betjeman in The Olympic Girl, "Smiles down from her great height at me./ She stands in strong, athletic pose/ And wrinkles her retroussé nose./ Is it distaste that makes her frown, So furious and freckled, down/ On an unhealthy worm like me? "The note of furtive, self-abasing English lust is entirely characteristic of his early poetry – though not necessarily of Betjeman himself.
She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company.
A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cables circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
Deborah Vivien Cavendish and her siblings moved in the same circles as Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, Adolf Hitler and Evelyn Waugh and epitomised a privileged and glamorous aristocratic life that no longer exists.
The six daughters - Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Decca and Debo - born between 19 to Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney, were the Kardashians of their day in terms of the public interest their antics aroused.
Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writers block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position.In the postwar years of austerity, with rationing of materials and building permits, and huge death duties, many people felt that the house, which had been home to a girls’ school in wartime, might never be lived in again.The Devonshires’ decision to move the family back into Chatsworth in 1959 – they were parents to a son, Peregrine (now the 12th Duke of Devonshire), and two daughters, Emma Tennant and Sophy Topley – was a bold statement at a time when, as the duchess recalled, “the country house” was, for political as much as cultural reasons, a “dirty word”.Nancy’s novels (1960) confirmed just how closely Nancy’s character Uncle Matthew was modelled on the Mitfords’ beloved if mildly terrifying “Farve”.Lord Redesdale’s expertise in country pursuits made Debo’s Oxfordshire childhood – first at Asthall Manor, near Burford, and then at Swinbrook House (built by Lord Redesdale to his own design), across the Windrush valley – an enthralling, heady thrill in itself and a solid education for life as chatelaine of Chatsworth and the other Cavendish family estates at Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, and Lismore Castle, Co Waterford.It was the first grand gesture in a trend that made enjoyment of Britain’s built heritage one of the great cultural phenomena of the late 20th century.