The Red Earl: The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon by Selina Hastings - review by Richard Davenport-Hines

Richard Davenport-Hines

Socialists & Socialites

The Red Earl: The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon


Bloomsbury 212pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

When Selina Hastings and her younger sister were small, their parents, Lord and Lady Huntingdon, occupied chambers in Albany, the muted Piccadilly enclave where the leases prohibit children from living. The girls were allotted a small house in Richmond, where they were attended by a cook and nursery governess. Her first memory of her father dates from 1949, when she was four. One weekend, while visiting the Richmond house, he bent down to make a kindly remark to her. She had never heard a man speak before, was baffled by his deep voice and could not understand a word he said. This fiasco discouraged him from talking to her for years.

Now, almost a quarter-century after his death, she has answered him with a memoir. It is a daughter’s attempt to understand a cryptic father whom she calls ‘the Invisible Man’. It depicts a person who made shows of commitment in his life by repudiating his parents’ expectations, by eloping with

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