Culture Buff

Anne Glenconner

11 April 2020

9:00 AM

11 April 2020

9:00 AM

It is said that Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine from the plague. Some have been suggesting that this year’s isolation should free us to write a book, perhaps a memoir, coyly claiming we’re only writing it for the grandchildren, while dreaming that it might become an international bestseller. The courses in memoir writing are now all closed down but there are lessons to be learned from some currently published memoirs.

An outstanding one is Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner; the subtitle tells it all: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown. The eldest daughter of the 6th Earl of Leicester, the author was known as Lady Anne Coke. The Coke family are truly ancient nobles, having been courtiers to the Tudors.


The ancestral seat is the vast Holkham Hall in Norfolk neighbouring Sandringham. Lady Anne was a childhood friend of the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. She was a Maid of Honour at the Coronation, was named Deb of the Year and in her early twenties married very rich but very difficult Colin Tennant, who inherited the title of Baron Glenconner. Colin bought the island of Mustique making a notorious playground for Princess Margaret.

What is striking is the lightness with which Anne Glenconner tells it all. Writing her first book in her mid-eighties, in recounting the sadnesses in the lives of her three sons, her deft touch is remarkable. This isn’t a trivial story; it is touching and very well told.

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