Wallis simpson

The Duke of Windsor had much to be thankful for

Once a King is trumpeted as ‘game-changing’, a ‘trove of never-before-seen papers which shed fresh light on the maligned Duke of Windsor’ and will ‘turn on its head long-accepted stereotypes’ about him. These are bold claims, but do they stack up? ‘The lost memoir of Edward Vlll’ actually consists of an early draft of the Duke of Windsor’s self-serving memoir, A King’s Story (1951), which Jane Marguerite Tippett found in the papers of the former king’s ghostwriter Charles Murphy in the Boston University archives. Far from being lost, the papers have been known to historians for 20 years and largely ignored in favour of more important collections elsewhere, not least

Chips Channon’s diaries can read like a drunken round of Consequences

Most of the grander 20th-century diarists had a sniffy air about them, looking down their noses at everyone, particularly each other. Henry ‘Chips’ Channon, so snippety in his own diaries, was sniped at in others’. James Lees-Milne thought him ‘a flibbertigibbet’; to Nancy Mitford, he was ‘vain and spiteful and silly’. Kenneth Rose confided to his diary that Channon was ‘a rather stupid man’. When the bowdlerised Channon diaries were first published in 1967, edited by Robert Rhodes James, Rose could not disguise his thrill at how badly they had gone down in his own smart set. At a ‘luncheon party given by Raine Dartmouth at her pretty house in

Aunt Munca’s murky past

Kiss Myself Goodbye. It sounds a bit like a William Boyd novel. It looks likea William Boyd novel, too: the cover shows an old hand-coloured photograph of a fur-stoled woman, determinedly leading a man in morning dress towards the camera. And, indeed, the raw material would likely make a very good William Boyd novel — only Boyd would have to jettison at least half of the breakneck hairpin bends in the mad, mazy plot for the sake of believability. This could be the ultimate case of a tale too strange to be fiction. Ferdinand Mount has crafted the perfect, custom-made receptacle for his extraordinary story. The (anti)-hero is the millionairess