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Counting One's Blessings

by William Shawcross

Counting One's Blessings Synopsis

One of the revelations of William Shawcross's official biography of the Queen Mother was her private correspondence. Indeed the Sunday Times described her letters as 'wonderful ... brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.' Queen Elizabeth was a prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood and her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face. They reveal - in her own words - the little girl writing to her family; the young woman who, eventually, accepted Prince Albert's proposal; the Duchess of York, embracing the public role demanded of her, on royal tours both at home and abroad. They reveal, too, her shock when she and her husband realized that he would become King, the dreadful toll exacted by the Second World War, culminating in the King's tragically early death, and her determination to find a role for herself during her long widowhood. Full of wit, acute observation and a deeply held sense of duty, Queen Elizabeth's letters offer a chronicle not only of her long life, but of the twentieth century.

Counting One's Blessings Press Reviews

[The Queen Mother's letters] do offer a fascinating, provocative first-hand glimpse into another world . . . Perhaps the most endearing side of the collection is the sheer number of earnest thank-you notes, written for everything from gifts to visits, and a great many written to Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Queen Mary, with whom Elizabeth carries on a warm and intimate correspondence. Elizabeth clearly delights in her friends, and is charmingly quick to offer assistance, take an interest in others' lives, and have a laugh at her own expense . . . Read [ Counting One's Blessings ] for the sheer entertainment value. --Heather Horn, The Atlantic William Shawcross, a renowned writer and broadcaster who has been given access to nine decades of remarkable correspondence from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, has traced the stories the letters tell . . . From childhood onwards, her words danced on the page, teeming with vitality, ebullience and optimism . . . Her letters showed a relish for language and sparkled with the joy of living. -- The Times of India The intriguing new book of letters shows the unlikely evolution of the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a charming, vivacious young woman who was one of the most sought-after debutantes of her day, into a gifted queen who became an enduring symbol of the British monarchy . . . she evolved into a curious, vital young woman who was an avid reader. --Lorna Koski, Women's Wear Daily With correspondents ranging from Kenneth Clark to Osbert Sitwell, as well as her parents-in-law, daughters and eldest grandson, the Queen Mother's selected letters--collated by her official biographer, William Shawcross--are seldom dull . . . [ Counting One's Blessings ] provides a study of maturing character against the background of great events . . . However fluffy the Queen may have seemed when young, she proved her mettle in 1939-45. Her wartime letters, showing her abnegation, selfless duty and distress, make impressive read William Shawcross, a renowned writer and broadcaster who has been given access to nine decades of remarkable correspondence from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, has traced the stories the letters tell . . . From childhood onwards, her words danced on the page, teeming with vitality, ebullience and optimism . . . Her letters showed a relish for language and sparkled with the joy of living. -- The Times of India The intriguing new book of letters shows the unlikely evolution of the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a charming, vivacious young woman who was one of the most sought-after debutantes of her day, into a gifted queen who became an enduring symbol of the British monarchy . . . she evolved into a curious, vital young woman who was an avid reader. --Lorna Koski, Women's Wear Daily With correspondents ranging from Kenneth Clark to Osbert Sitwell, as well as her parents-in-law, daughters and eldest grandson, the Queen Mother's selected letters--collated by her official biographer, William Shawcross--are seldom dull . . . [ Counting One's Blessings ] provides a study of maturing character against the background of great events . . . However fluffy the Queen may have seemed when young, she proved her mettle in 1939-45. Her wartime letters, showing her abnegation, selfless duty and distress, make impressive reading. They reach, at moments, an eloquent intensity . . . These letters exemplify the truth of a remark of Auden's. 'Be good and you will be happy is a dangerous inversion, ' the poet wrote. 'Be happy and you will be good is the truth. Men often speak of their right to happiness. In fact, it is their only duty.' The Queen saw happiness as a duty--not an entitlement--because it was her route to good works. --Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times Literary Supplement

Book Information

ISBN: 9780330535779
Publication date: 28th May 2013
Author: William Shawcross
Publisher: Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 688 pages
Categories: Biography: royalty,

About William Shawcross

William Shawcross became a writer after leaving University College, Oxford in 1968. Since then he has written and travelled widely. His many books include Queen and Country and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: the Official Biography. He lives in London and Cornwall.

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