Bronwen Astor: Her Life and Times

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9780006388593: Bronwen Astor: Her Life and Times

For the first time since the Profumo scandal of the 1960s, the Astors’ own version of the events at Cliveden is told. Peter Stanford has been granted unprecedented access to Lady Astor, her private papers and her friends, as well as to many family members and key players in the drama.

When Bronwen Pugh married into the celebrated Astor clan in 1960, she seemed to have the world at her feet. She was media darling, BBC television presenter, the most celebrated model of her generation, and, after her marriage to millionaire Bill Astor, mistress of Cliveden. Three years later her world was turned upside down by the Profumo scandal. Cliveden – with its famous guests, lavish parties and spectacular setting – was alleged to be at the centre of an international web of sexual debauchery and espionage which ultimately brought down Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Bronwen lost everything in the scandal: husband, home, friends and her good name. Bill Astor was accused of being a louche playboy and an unfaithful husband, Bronwen as little better than Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, the two escort girls at the centre of the scandal. Bill Astor never recovered, and he died in 1966 of a broken heart.

The reversal of fortune for Bronwen Astor was immense, and in charting her private agony behind the public disgrace, Peter Stanford has written a fascinating and moving story of a remarkable and resilient woman.

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From the Back Cover:

"This discerning study is no mere padding for a description of the most sensational political scandal of modern times. Every facet of the life of Lady Astor is examined with exemplary skill and sensitive shrewdness."
Gerard Noel, 'Catholic Herald'

"The life story of Bronwen, Viscountess Astor, shows that the hurt of Profumo goes very deep, all the more so because the affair exposed personal vulnerabilities that money, class and social status were supposed to conceal."
ROBERT MCRUM,' Observer'

When Bronwen Pugh married into the celebrated Astor clan in 1960, she seemed to have the world at her feet. As firstly a successful BBC television presenter, and then the most celebrated model of her generation, she became mistress of Cliveden, the Italianate mansion on the Thames which her mother-in-law, Nancy Astor, had made famous with her political salons. Yet within three years of her marriage Bronwen Astor's world was turned upside down by the Profumo scandal. Cliveden was alleged to be at the centre of an international web of sexual debauchery and espionage which ultimately brought down Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Bill Astor became a social and political pariah, dying in 1966 of a broken heart. In charting the private agony behind the public disgrace, peter Stanford has been granted unprecedented access to both Lady Astor and her papers. He shows how a profound Christian faith has richly sustained her during her hitherto long-held silence.

"Well written, conscientious and thorough."
SELINA HASTINGS, 'Times Literary Supplement'

"Illuminates an extraordinary woman and an extraordinary life."
JOHN GRAHAM, 'Tatler'

About the Author:

Peter Stanford’s previous books include biographies of Lord Longford, Cardinal Basil Hume and the Devil. He has written an investigation of the Pope Joan legend and a polemical book, Catholics and Sex, which accompanied a Channel 4 television series. He contributes regularly to the Guardian and Sunday Telegraph and New Statesman. A regular broadcaster, he is also chairman of the national disability charity ASPIRE.

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Published by Harpercollins Pub Ltd (2001)
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