Author(s): Antonia Fraser
The title of Antonia Fraser's memoir of growing up has a double meaning. It is partly an attempt to recapture the experiences of her Oxford childhood and youth - in Shakespeare's phrase, to 'call back yesterday, bid time return'. But it is also intended as a chronicle of the progress of her love of history since her first discovery of it as a private pleasure when she was a child in the 1930s - her history, as she believed it to be, for the study of history (as her books subsequently attest) has always been an essential part of the enjoyment of life. When Antonia received as a Christmas present a copy of Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall, it engendered a lifelong interest in history. Queen Matilda, Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots and Flora MacDonald were all formidable women, and it was Mary who fired her emotion to write the story that became the globally bestselling Mary Queen of Scots. Antonia's mother, born Elizabeth Harman, was the daughter of a Harley Street doctor; her father, Frank Pakenham, was the second son of the Earl of Longford, disliked by his own mother who adored elder brother Edward. As a student at university - rumpled and hesitant - he had met the self-confident and very attractive Elizabeth. This disparate pair were to enjoy a marriage that endured for nearly seventy years. Initially, Frank and Elizabeth were on different political sides - he a Tory, she a Labour candidate - but after being involved in a violent meeting at the local town hall addressed by the Fascist Oswald Mosley, Frank changed allegiance. Antonia's happy childhood in the Sussex of Puck of Pook's Hill was darkened when her brother Thomas contracted polio, and the shadows of the war began to draw closer. Her magical memoir is a vibrant account of childhood and the making of a great narrative historian.
Name on half title
The childhood and early life memoir of Antonia Fraser, one of our finest narrative historians.
Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), CROMWELL: OUR CHIEF OF MEN, KING CHARLES II and THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMEN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND (Wolfson Award for History, 1984), THE WARRIOR QUEENS: BOADICEA'S CHARIOT, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY (Franco-British Literary Prize 2001), which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola in 2006 and most recently LOVE AND LOUIS XIV: THE WOMEN IN THE LIFE OF THE SUN KING. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. Antonia Fraser was made DBE in 2011 for her services to literature. Her most recent book is MUST YOU GO?, celebrating her life with Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve 2008. She lives in London. Visit Antonia Fraser's website at www.antoniafraser.com