Greetings from Slightly Foxed, where we’ve been browsing our bookshelves and roaming far and wide – from London to Cairo, Jerusalem, Baghdad and many more places besides – through the pages of To War with Whitaker, the remarkable wartime diaries of Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly.
‘They have the enthralling quality that Dostoevsky called “living life”, oﬀering you a front-row seat at the great unfolding historical drama of the Second World War. They were written on the hoof, in moments snatched at the end of long, exhausting working days when letter-writing had also to be ﬁtted in. Fifty years later she prepared them for publication and was astonished by their success.’ Peter J. Conradi, in his preface to our Slightly Foxed Edition
We are not at all astonished by the success of her diaries. In fact, we must report that we’re down to our final binders’ parcels of this popular limited edition.
Hermione and her husband Dan had been married for less than a year when he was called up in 1939. Their characterful cook-butler Whitaker volunteered to go with him, but Yeomanry rules decreed that though officers could take their servants to war they could not take their wives. Undeterred however, Hermione set off for Egypt in pursuit. She worked for SOE in Cairo and as personal assistant to General ‘Jumbo’ Wilson in Jerusalem, entertaining everyone from King Farouk to Evelyn Waugh. This sparkling diary is both a passionate love story and a picture of the war in the Middle East and Europe as seen by a very unconventional aristocrat.
Now, as it nears the end of its time on the SF Editions list, an extract from Hermione’s unique behind-the-scenes account is well overdue. Please click here to view selected diary entries – we hope you enjoy reading them. If you do and are tempted to add this book to your collection, now’s the moment.
With best wishes, as ever, from the SF office staff
Anna, Hattie & Jess