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My Grandmothers & I (Plain Foxed Edition)
  • ISBN: 9781906562335
  • Pages: 288
  • Dimensions: 170 x 110mm
  • Publication date: 1 December 2017
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Cloth Hardback
  • Trimings: Silk ribbon, head- and tail-band
  • Preface: Linda Leatherbarrow
Made in Britain

My Grandmothers & I (Plain Foxed Edition)

Diana Holman-Hunt

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Diana Holman-Hunt – granddaughter of the eminent Pre-Raphaelite painter – spent her Edwardian childhood shuttling between two wildly contrasting households. My Grandmothers and I is her darkly funny memoir of that time.

One of the households, in Kensington, belonged to Diana’s paternal grandmother, Holman-Hunt’s eccentric widow, known to Diana as ‘Grand’. The other, on the edge of the Sussex marshes, was the home of her mother’s parents, Grandmother and Grandfather Freeman.

While the Freeman household ran on oiled wheels, with a full complement of servants to minister to Grandmother Freeman’s whims, parsimonious ‘Grand’, in her big gaunt house full of treasures and valuable paintings, relied entirely on the services of ‘my good Helen’, a taciturn figure who existed in the damp, beetle-infested basement from which she produced inedible meals of scrag end, Bovril and ancient eggs. While sweet-smelling, self-indulgent Grandmother Freeman lived for the present, ‘Grand’ lived entirely in the faded splendour of her past. The two mistrusted one another deeply and competed for Diana’s affection while being spectacularly blind to her needs.

Out of this essentially bleak scenario, in which she was passed like a parcel from one to the other and finally left in her teens to fend for herself, Diana has woven a small comic masterpiece of pitch-perfect dialogue and deadpan observation.

‘Tennis!’ I was astounded . . .

'Lettice Spragg has promised to invite you to tennis one Sunday. I confided my worries to her and read aloud your father’s latest letter.’ ‘Tennis!’ I was astounded . . .

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How Not to Be a Grandmother

My grandmother’s idea of cooking was cracking open a raw egg and hurling the contents straight down her throat. She was a poet, deeply religious, immersed in the world of the spirit, never the...

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‘Ah, good morning my pet,’ said Grand . . .

Grand was my father’s mother and Grandpa Holman-Hunt’s widow. I knew he was the famous Pre-Raphaelite painter and that she was also known as Mrs H-H. ‘Well, fancy you, going to pay a visit...

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