Nancy Astor: Portrait of a Pioneer by John Grigg - review by Lynda Carr

Lynda Carr

Women and Children First

Nancy Astor: Portrait of a Pioneer

By

Sidgwick and Jackson 192pp £8.95 order from our bookshop
 

John Grigg’s portrait of Nancy Astor is, in its presentation, attractive, extravagant, socially orientated and entertaining – a portrait of which one suspects Nancy Astor would have approved wholeheartedly. The fundamental contradictions in Nancy Astor’s temperament and philosophy, and the intrinsic tension between her life as a socialite and her life as a social reformer are not easily explained. John Grigg attributes to Nancy Astor a lingering and detailed memory of the squalor of her early life (before her father made his fortune on the American railroads) and believes that the determination to be freed, and to free others, from the restrictions of poverty was one of the driving forces of her career. It is certainly a tribute to her character that she retained her credibility amongst her constituents whilst refusing to deny the privileged and aristocratic life she led as the wife of one of the wealthiest men in the country.

There is, interestingly, no evidence to demonstrate that Nancy Astor sought the political post which she held. Indeed, she became a parliamentary candidate by chance when her father-in-law who had been created Viscount Astor only three years previously, died in 1919. Upon his death, Nancy Astor’s husband, Waldorf, was elevated

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