Jane Ridley

Woman in Black

Ettie: The Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 472pp £25 order from our bookshop

This must have been a hard book to sell. Ettie Desborough is not exactly a household name. If her great friend Arthur Balfour was a whiff of scent on a lady’s pocket handkerchief, Ettie seems even more evanescent. A society hostess, a leading member of the Souls, an Edwardian grande dame – her story seems almost impossible to breathe into life, still less to conjure onto the stern shelves of Waterstones. In fact, as Richard Davenport-Hines demonstrates triumphantly in this superb biography, Ettie Desborough’s life is a compelling and moving story of love and loss as well as an important slice of social history, and it deserves to be widely read.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Circumspect, slyly reticent, and oleaginously smooth' From the Archive: John Banville reviews Andrew Motion's mys… ,
    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,