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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Charmer Who Likes To Be Centre-Stage: Lord Snowdon

Snowdon: The Biography by Anne de Courcy is an excellent analysis of a very complicated man, but livelier writing would have improved the book greatly. It's written in a sympathetic and straightforward way, but the excessive detail sometimes annoyed me. I didn't really want to know about almost every piece of furniture in each of Snowdon's houses, for example.

Anne de Courcy has been criticised for focusing on scandal, but I don't agree with that. Snowdon, himself, didn't make any fuss about the book's content. It does list all or most of his affairs but not in a malicious way.

Three aspects of Snowdon's life made a big impression on me. I felt that he was the one largely responsible for the break-up of his marriage. He started having affairs and he could be quite cruel at times to Princess Margaret. However, they seemed to be unsuited - they both wanted to be the centre of attention and she wanted to spend evenings partying while he liked to go to bed early so that he was ready for work in the morning.

His focus on work is admirable. He is very driven and talented, but on the other hand, he spent so much of his time working that he neglected Princess Margaret and she became lonely.

He was a real crusader for the disabled and achieved very much for them. (I'll add some examples later.) He should be very proud of these achievements and this obviously impressed the author very much.

This is well-worth reading for those who have time. I think that Anne de Courcy, at least, may get rid of the impression some have that Snowdon is just another charming and womanising aristocrat who didn't do anything important.

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