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My History A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser
  

My History A Memoir of Growing Up

Biography / Autobiography   

Sue Baker's view...

Suitably for an historian, Antonia Fraser explores her life against her development into a writer and historian, the influences that made her take this path and the strong thread of history woven through her life experienced in family homes and from her ancestors, all providing a link to the past. She shares with readers her love for historical people and events, her awakening a joy in learning about the past and how it influences our lives and futures.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. In a captivating memoir, historian Antonia Fraser describes growing up, one of eight children. Born in Oxford, where her father, Frank Packenham, was a don at Christ Church, she enjoyed an idyllically happy childhood, despite the intervening war years. At the start of the war, the family spent a year with friends in an Elizabethan manor house, which, she says, ignited her interest in history. Surrounded by her parents’ intellectual friends, and at the Dragon School, she acquired a rigorous education that including playing ‘rugger’ After leaving St Mary’s Ascot aged sixteen, Antonia fairly whizzes through her time selling hats, and doing ‘the season’, before going up to Oxford, where her father was her tutor. After graduating, she fortuitously landed a job with young publisher George Weidenfeld, and met and married Hugh Fraser MP. Antonia ends her memoir with the publication of Mary Queen of Scots, and the rest, as they say, is history!
~ Fiona Lafferty

Synopsis

My History A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser's memoir describes growing up in the 1930s and 1940s but its real concern is with her growing love of History. The fascination began as a child - and developed into an enduring passion; as she writes, 'for me, the study of History has always been an essential part of the enjoyment of life'. Born Antonia Pakenham, the eldest of the eight children of the future Lord and Lady Longford, her childhood was spent in Oxford, where her father was a don at Christ Church. Evacuation at the beginning of the war to a romantic Elizabethan manor house nearby was an inspiration for historical imaginings. There were adventures in Anglo-Ireland at Dunsany Castle and Pakenham Hall, each offering her treasured links to the past which became private obsessions. North Oxford wartime life included four years as one of the few girls then admitted to the Dragon School for boys, followed by time at a convent school after her family's conversion to Catholicism. Her father joined the Labour Government in 1945 as a Minister, which provided an odd background for exploits such as working in a Bond Street hat shop and a season as a self- made debutante. A job in publishing, by a fortunate coincidence, followed Oxford University and the book ends with the dramatic leap forward with the publishing of Mary Queen of Scots which became a worldwide bestseller to general amazement (including the author's).

About the Author

Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works including the biographies, 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 now most recently LOVE AND LOUIS XIV: THE WOMEN IN THE LIFE OF THE SUN KING. Antonia Fraser was made CBE in 1999, and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. She lives in London and is currently working on a biography of Queen Elizabeth I. She was married to Harold Pinter who died on Christmas Eve 2008 and has eighteen grandchildren.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

What's the first book you remember reading?
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall, when I was aged four and a half. I still have the copy, rebound after much use.

Where do you live? And why?
I have lived in the same house in Campden Hill Square since 1959; my six children were brought up here (two of them actually born in the house). I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Where do you write?
In the children's old nursery at the top of the house, rechristened the Eyrie. I couldn't wait to move in when they moved out as it has magnificent views.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?
Ancient electric typewriter (circa 1970) to which I am devoted.

Where were you born and raised?
Although I was born in Sussex Gate, Bayswater (now Ryadh House, I see), I was brought up in Oxford where my father taught at the University.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years?
I loved two out of my three schools, the Dragon School, Oxford, and St Mary's Convent, Ascot, which was the setting for the first Jemima Shore mystery, Quiet as a Nun.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind?
I didn't want to be an author. I just was an author since before memory.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. I wrote mock Shakespearean tragedies in verse: I like to think I've got better.

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
I only had one job: working for Weidenfeld & Nicolson and they've published all my non-fiction ever since.

If your house were burning down, what would you save?
My black and white cat Placido – except he'd probably get out first.

Have any of your books been televised or made into films? Who by and when were they screened? The Jemima Shore crime stories were made into two TV series, Quiet as a Nun, starring Maria Aitken, and Jemima Shore Investigates, starring Patricia Hodge. Marie Antoinette has recently been filmed by Sofia Coppola.

What is a typical writing day?
I like to work the whole morning without interruption (in an ideal world!), then time off, for a swim perhaps, and back about 5.00 pm. I never work at night.

What do you do when you are not writing? How do you relax? What are your hobbies? I love reading other people's crime novels to relax.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I'm going to write about Queen Elizabeth I. I always wanted to look at the other side of the picture since I wrote Mary Queen of Scots nearly 40 years ago and now it's time.

What single thing might people be surprised to learn about you?
I used to play rugger at the Dragon School! My children never believed me and I don't think my grandchildren do. On the wing, not in the scrum.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999

Author

Antonia Fraser

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Author's Website

www.antoniafraser.com/

Publisher

Format

Hardback

Categories


ISBN

9780297871903

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