- The Suzy Lamplugh Story by Andrew Stephen
Faber, 198 pp, £10.95, October 1988, ISBN 0 571 15152 3
‘In so short a time you have achieved the kind of fame people work towards for a lifetime,’ Diana Lamplugh wrote to her eldest daughter in August 1986. This daughter had achieved fame by disappearing: by being, at the age of 25, presumed dead. In July, Susannah Lamplugh had left the estate agent’s office where she worked, apparently to meet a client, and had never returned. She seemed to have been abducted; she was thought by most people to have been murdered. Mrs Lamplugh’s letter, which described what had happened since Susannah disappeared, was, it seems, written to steady her nerves, and written without much hope that her daughter would ever read it. But the letter was not short of respondents. Mrs Lamplugh gave it to her family, and to the Evening Standard, who printed parts of it. The Telegraph, Mirror and Star also published extracts. BBC Television News showed the writer typing her letter at her desk. Some months later, Diana Lamplugh was able to provide another chilling announcement: ‘We are probably (bar the Royals) one of the most well-known families in Britain.’
Vol. 11 No. 1 · 5 January 1989
In her review of Andrew Stephen’s book (LRB, 10 November 1988) Susannah Clapp raises a number of points on which she might be interested in a word of explanation. We objected to the book for a number of reasons, including inaccuracy and facts taken out of context. My wife’s letters to Suzy after she had disappeared were intensely personal and were only published after persuasion by the Evening Standard (as was clear from the headnote which I asked them to print). We were anxious to do anything – as are other parents in these circumstances – that might lead to Suzy being found. We gave the letters to the author on the assumption that the context of what was said in them would be properly explained – it needed sensitivity and understanding; our assumption was, we thought, covered by our contractual right to require amendment. In the interests of accuracy – our principal concern! – could I just add that we did not in fact approach the publishers with the idea for a book: they suggested it and strongly encouraged us to have it written. We certainly did not expect this book!
Also, we did leave home to avoid as much hype as we could (we were advised to do so by Victim Support), but unfortunately we could not be away for as long as we would have liked due to our various commitments. We were of course particularly concerned about accuracy in regard to Suzy’s personality and character. Susannah Clapp refers to her QE2 Diary. This must be some evidence of what she was really like, but, sadly, it was not accurately reflected in the book.
People can judge my wife for themselves, and in regard to the period covered by the book, from what she has achieved through the Trust in its two years and from her book Beating aggression, and another book on fitness at work, both of which were written within the two years that Suzy disappeared. The second book will be published by Thorson Books.