Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon has been described as “the greatest British diarist of the 20th century”. This final volume of his unexpurgated diaries fully justifies that accolade, and we’re delighted that Simon Heffer will join us again in St Andrews to guide us through it with his expert commentary.
This third and final volume begins as the Second World War is turning in the Allies’ favour. It ends with Chips descending into poor health but still able to turn a pointed phrase about the political events that swirl around him and the great and the good with whom he mingles.
Throughout these final fourteen years Chips assiduously describes events in and around Westminster, gossiping about individual MPs’ ambitions and indiscretions, but also rising powerfully to the occasion to capture the mood of the House on VE Day or the ceremony of George VI’s funeral. His energies, though, are increasingly absorbed by a private life that at times reaches Byzantine levels of complexity. We encounter the London of the theatre and the cinema, peopled by such figures as John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, as well as a seemingly endless grand parties at which Chips might well rub shoulders with Cecil Beaton, the Mountbattens, or any number of dethroned European monarchs.