Valerie Grove

Cherchez Les Femmes

Laurie Lee’s centenary is being lavishly celebrated this month. ‘Laurie Lee is the most enthralling project I have ever undertaken,’ I wrote in my diary on the day I finished writing his biography, ‘so (lest we forget) thank you, Pat.’ Pat was Pat Kavanagh, my agent, who had suggested the book. ‘He’s 82 and deaf and a bit tricky,’ she said, ‘but I think you’d get on.’ He and I did indeed get on – on the telephone. We arranged to have lunch in London soon, at the Chelsea Arts Club, but on the agreed day Laurie was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He was brought home to his beloved Slad valley and died shortly after in May 1997, watched over by Kathy and Jessy, his wife and daughter.

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