The name Maud Russell creeps almost apologetically into a few 20th-century diaries such as those of her friend Violet Bonham Carter. Generally, she keeps her head below the parapet — not a bad place for a diarist, since it allows her to observe without being noticed.
She is certainly worth knowing about. The wife of a banker, Gilbert Russell, a scion of the great Whig family, whose cousin was Duke of Bedford, and daughter of Paul Nelke, a seriously rich stockbroker of German Jewish origin, she was from the mid-1930s chatelaine of Mottisfont Abbey, a beautiful 2,000-acre estate in Hampshire, now owned by the National Trust.
There, in her mid-forties, she surrounded herself with top-notch artists, writers, politicians and aristocrats.