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Snowdon: The Biography

Snowdon: The Biography

Hardback

By (author) Anne De Courcy

List price $39.95

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  • Publisher: WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON
  • Format: Hardback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 237mm x 36mm | 840g
  • Publication date: 4 June 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0297852752
  • ISBN 13: 9780297852759
  • Illustrations note: 54
  • Sales rank: 183,513

Product description

The parents of Anthony Armstrong-Jones (he was given the title Earl of Snowdon in 1961) were very different. He was Welsh to his fingertips, she an exotic mixture of English and Jewish. They divorced when he was five and Tony's relationship with his aloof glittering mother never recovered. His inventiveness was soon apparent, at Eton and then Cambridge, where as cox in 1950 he designed a new rudder for his (winning) Boat Race crew. The engagement of this motorbike-riding freelance photographer in 1960 to Princess Margaret was a bombshell. Friends privately predicted disaster. And so it proved. But meanwhile in the 1960s, mixing with actors, artists and pop stars, they were the epitome of stylish and unstuffy arts-loving Royals. Along with John and Jackie Kennedy or Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, they were one of the iconic glamorous couples of that era. Tony continued to work and both began to have affairs. They divorced in 1978, the first royal divorce since Henry VIII divorced Anne of Cleves in 1540. Snowdon married again but this marriage collapsed after the birth of a secret love-child in 1998 and the suicide in 1996 of his mistress of twenty years, Anne Hill. His low boredom threshold and waspish cruelty are balanced by his fabled charm and genuine concern for the disabled and underpriviledged. One of the great British photographers, up there with Beaton, Bailey and Parkinson, at 76 he now suffers from a recurrence of childhood polio and needs sticks or wheelchair to get around. But by any standards he has had an extraordinary life.

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Author information

Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer with a long career in journalism, most recently with the DAILY MAIL, for whom she did interviews, historical features and book reviews, as well as editing a page on readers' dilemmas. She lives in London and Gloucestershire.

Review quote

"How refreshing to read a biography in which the author is half in love with her subject. There are none of the usual patronising putdowns, envious backbiting or mean-spirited cavilling in Anne de Courcy's portrait of the Earl of Snowdon." -- RICHARD DAVENPORT-HINES SUNDAY TIMES "an onslaught of revelation, a dizzyingly switchback ride of mixed emotions, pomp and sleaze... very true to life." -- DUNCAN FALLOWELL THE DAILY TELEGRAPH "He has indeed been courageous in authorising this portrait in wich the warts sometimes threaten to obscure any redeeming features." -- PHILIP ZIEGLER THE SPECTATOR "It will be a surprise to some to know there is more to Snowdon than a womanising shutter-bug." DAILY EXPRESS "Step forward, Snowdon. You're nicked... Full of eye-popping revelations." -- CRAIG BROWN, BOOK OF THE WEEK MAIL ON SUNDAY "Royal rebel in sharp focus." -- VALERIE GROVE THE TIMES "juicy biography... it is impossible here to convey the combination of high society and low morals, of frightfully good taste and awful cheese that de Courcy has managed to dish up." OBSERVER "a remarkably frank life of the priapic royal." SUNDAY TIMES "this new biography by Anne de Courcy... has been making newspaper headlines for weeks." -- JAN MOIR SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Has anyone not slept with Lord Snowdon? The priapic Earl's multi-layered love life is the dominant theme of this chatty and penetrating biography, packed as it is with love affairs, love-children...and love-struck mistresses, often several at one time... Snowdon makes a glamorous, capricious, selfish and suprisingly philanthropic subject for this lively account of a man and his era." DAILY MAIL SUMMER READING "Lord Snowdon's charm, elusive, to say the least", THE GUARDIAN "the amorous Snowdon was remarkably helpful for this life; the result is jaw-droppingly revealing." -- BEST BOOKS FOR SUMMER READING THE SUNDAY TIMES "Gossip fans will feast on this riveting biography of the Queen's fomer brother-in-law" IRISH NEWS "fine biography" THE SCOTSMAN "full of revelations" SUNDAY EXPRESS - TOP 20 SUMMER READS "juicy biography" IRISH SUNDAY INDEPENDENT "an hour of jet-set ballgowns and moral bankruptcy" -- CAITLIN MORAN THE TIMES " a no-holds barred documentary to coincide with Anne de Courcy's Snowdon: The Biography, in which assorted friends, relatives and ladies-in-waiting dish the dirt on the first royal marriage to end in divorce for nearly 400 years." -- DAVID CHATER THE TIMES "With rare access to informed interviewees and archive footage, this documentary relates not just a resonant story, but illuminates the truth that all marrriages are belief-beggaring mysterious." THE GUARDIAN GUIDE "For anyone interested in royal etiquette and infidelity this is an entertaining and digestible hour of TV." TIME OUT