Victoria Glendinning

Party People

A Curious Friendship: The Story of a Bluestocking and a Bright Young Thing


Macmillan 512pp £20 order from our bookshop

The subtitle is seductive. But she was not really much of a bluestocking, and he was rather insecure as a Bright Young Thing. They met in 1925, when Rex Whistler was a 19-year-old art student and Edith Olivier was the unmarried 52-year-old daughter of a vicar. She was clever, opinionated and a passionate reader. In her youth she won a scholarship to Oxford but left after four terms because of her asthma. She would have remained a ‘county’ spinster, devoted to religion, local affairs and good works, had she not met Whistler, who became the emotional focus of the rest of her life.

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