D. J. Taylor

A Stone in the Shade, by Violet Powell – review

Evelyn Waugh once recalled the anguish with which he greeted Edith Sitwell’s announcement that ‘Mr Waugh, you may call me Edith.’ I experienced similar misgivings on the occasion, some years ago, that Lady Violet Powell suggested that I might like to call her ‘Violet’. It was not that Lady Violet — Violet — made the least fuss about her title (‘as unswanky a Lady as could be imagined’, Kingsley Amis once declared); merely that she was the relict of a man whose eye for the social niceties made Lady Catherine de Bourgh look like a bumbling amateur.

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