Coming of age in Wiltshire

Nell Dunn

  • Everything to lose: Diaries 1945-1960 by Frances Partridge
    Gollancz, 383 pp, £12.95, October 1985, ISBN 0 575 03549 8

When I was about eleven in 1947, my mother and stepfather, Mary and Robin Campbell, went to live in Wiltshire and were neighbours of Frances Partridge and her husband Ralph. They became great friends. I was somewhere included in that friendship, and Frances made an enormous impression on me as I grew up. These are the years covered in Everything to lose. Towards the end of the diaries my mother and Robin Campbell separated, and not long ago, to my great sadness, Robin died. Reading the diaries, and Robin’s death, have made me think hard about that period of my growing-up. What were the influences that I felt so keenly from Frances? What was it that was so peculiarly attractive about being at Ham Spray, the house left to the Partridges by Lytton Strachey? The answers lie in these diaries.

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