Anne de Courcy

W&N

The Husband Hunters

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and for the first few years of the twentieth, a strange invasion took place in Britain. The citadel of power, privilege and breeding in which the titled, land-owning governing class had barricaded itself for so long was breached. The incomers were a group of young women who, fifty years earlier, would have been looked on as the alien denizens of another world - the New World, to be precise. From 1874 - the year that Jennie Jerome, the first known 'Dollar Princess', married Randolph Churchill - to 1905, dozens of young American heiresses married into the British peerage, bringing with them all the fabulous wealth, glamour and sophistication of the Gilded Age.Anne de Courcy sets the stories of these young women and their families in the context of their times. Based on extensive first-hand research, drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters, this richly entertaining group biography reveals what they thought of their new lives in England - and what England thought of them.

W&N

Margot at War

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

Margot Asquith was perhaps the most daring and unconventional Prime Minister's wife in British history. Known for her wit, style and habit of speaking her mind, she transformed 10 Downing Street into a glittering social and intellectual salon. Yet her last four years at Number 10 were a period of intense emotional and political turmoil in her private and public life. In 1912, when Anne de Courcy's book opens, rumblings of discontent and cries for social reform were encroaching on all sides - from suffragettes, striking workers and Irish nationalists. Against this background of a government beset with troubles, the Prime Minister fell desperately in love with his daughter's best friend, Venetia Stanley; to complicate matters, so did his Private Secretary. Margot's relationship with her husband was already bedevilled by her stepdaughter's jealous, almost incestuous adoration of her father. The outbreak of the First World War only heightened these swirling tensions within Downing Street. Drawing on unpublished material from personal papers and diaries, Anne de Courcy vividly recreates this extraordinary time when the Prime Minister's residence was run like an English country house, with socialising taking precedence over politics, love letters written in the cabinet room and gossip and state secrets exchanged over the bridge table. By 1916, when Asquith was forced out of office, everything had changed. For the country as a whole, for those in power, for a whole stratum of society, but especially for the Asquiths and their circle, it was the end of an era. Life inside Downing Street would never be the same again.

W&N

The Fishing Fleet

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

The adventurous young women who sailed to India during the Raj in search of husbands.From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain's best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake. This amorphous band was composed of daughters returning after their English education, girls invited to stay with married sisters or friends, and yet others whose declared or undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as the Fishing Fleet, and this book is their story, hitherto untold.For these young women, often away from home for the first time, one thing they could be sure of was a rollicking good time. By the early 20th century, a hectic social scene was in place, with dances, parties, amateur theatricals, picnics, tennis tournaments, cinemas and gymkhanas, with perhaps a tiger shoot and a glittering dinner at a raja's palace thrown in. And, with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one, romances were conducted at alarming speed and marriages were frequent. But after the honeymoon, life often changed dramatically: whisked off to a remote outpost with few other Europeans for company, and where constant vigilance was required to guard against disease, they found it a far cry from the social whirlwind of their first arrival.Anne de Courcy's sparkling narrative is enriched by a wealth of first-hand sources - unpublished memoirs, letters and diaries rescued from attics - which bring this forgotten era vividly to life.

W&N

Snowdon

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

The first proper biography of the man who married, and divorced, Princess MargaretAnthony Armstrong-Jones was born to a Welsh father and English-Jewish mother. Creative and inventive, he attended Eton and then Cambridge. The engagement of this motorbike-riding freelance photographer in 1960 to Princess Margaret was a bombshell.Friends privately predicted disaster. And so it proved. But meanwhile in the 1960s, mixing with actors, artists and pop stars, they were the epitome of stylish and unstuffy arts-loving Royals - and one of the iconic glamorous couples of that era.Tony continued to work and both began to have affairs. They divorced in 1978. Snowdon married again but this marriage collapsed after the birth of a secret love-child and the suicide of his mistress of twenty years.His low boredom threshold and waspish cruelty are balanced by his fabled charm and genuine concern for the disabled and underprivileged. One of the great British photographers, at 76 he now suffers from a recurrence of childhood polio. But by any standards he has had an extraordinary life.

W&N

Debs at War

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy
W&N

Society's Queen

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy
W&N

1939: The Last Season

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

A wonderful portrait of British upper-class life in the Season of 1939 - the last before the Second World War.The Season of 1939 brought all those 'in Society' to London. The young debutante daughters of the upper classes were presented to the King and Queen to mark their acceptance into the new adult world of their parents. They sparkled their way through a succession of balls and parties and sporting events.The Season brought together influential people not only from Society but also from Government at the various events of the social calendar. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain chaperoned his debutante niece to weekend house parties; Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, lunched with the Headmaster of Eton; Cabinet Ministers encountered foreign Ambassadors at balls in the houses of the great hostesses. As the hot summer drew on, the newspapers filled with ever more ominous reports of the relentless progress towards war. There was nothing to do but wait - and dance. The last season of peace was nearly over.

W&N

The Viceroy's Daughters

Anne de Courcy
Authors:
Anne de Courcy

The lives of the three daughters of Lord Curzon: glamorous, rich, independent and wilful.Irene (born 1896), Cynthia (b.1898) and Alexandria (b.1904) were the three daughters of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India 1898-1905 and probably the grandest and most self-confident imperial servant Britain ever possessed. After the death of his fabulously rich American wife in 1906, Curzon's determination to control every aspect of his daughters' lives, including the money that was rightfully theirs, led them one by one into revolt against their father. The three sisters were at the very heart of the fast and glittering world of the Twenties and Thirties.Irene, intensely musical and a passionate foxhunter, had love affairs in the glamorous Melton Mowbray hunting set. Cynthia ('Cimmie') married Oswald Mosley, joining him first in the Labour Party, where she became a popular MP herself, before following him into fascism. Alexandra ('Baba'), the youngest and most beautiful, married the Prince of Wales's best friend Fruity Metcalfe. On Cimmie's early death in 1933 Baba flung herself into a long and passionate affair with Mosley and a liaison with Mussolini's ambassador to London, Count Dino Grandi, while enjoying the romantic devotion of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax. The sisters see British fascism from behind the scenes, and the arrival of Wallis Simpson and the early married life of the Windsors. The war finds them based at 'the Dorch' (the Dorchester Hotel) doing good works. At the end of their extraordinary lives, Irene and Baba have become, rather improbably, pillars of the establishment, Irene being made one of the very first Life Peers in 1958 for her work with youth clubs.

Anne de Courcy

Anne de Courcy is the author of thirteen widely acclaimed works of social history and biography, including THE HUSBAND HUNTERS, THE FISHING FLEET, THE VICEROY'S DAUGHTERS and DEBS AT WAR. In the 1970s she was Woman's Editor on the LONDON EVENING NEWS and in the 1980s she was a regular feature-writer for the EVENING STANDARD. She is also a former features writer and reviewer for the DAILY MAIL.