Daughters of Britannia : The Lives and Times of the Diplomatic Wives

 
9780007624089: Daughters of Britannia : The Lives and Times of the Diplomatic Wives
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An authoritative, entertaining and moving account of the courageous and unusual women who have been the backbone of the foreign service.

Accompanying their spouses in the most extraordinary, tough, sometimes terrifying circumstances, the women written about in this book struggled to bring their civilisation with them.

The book will be beautifully illustrated with archive material, extracts from original letters between the women and their families at home, maps to show the routes they travelled and the places they were posted to and pictures of ephemera to evoke the lives they led. The chapters included are:

Getting There
· The Posting
· Private Life
· Embassy Life
· Public Life
· Social Life

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Review:

As the daughter of a diplomat, Katie Hickman is well situated to write about the lives of the women who, from the 17th century onward, have traversed the globe as partners of Britain's ambassadors. These women are more than simply bored socialites or helpmeets, they are indispensable companions, intrepid travellers, and, in many cases, exemplary ambassadors for their country. Hickman details the lives of the female ambassadors, from flamboyant characters such as Vita Sackville-West, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and the "bolter" Emma Hamilton, to lesser-known contemporary stoics like Jane-Ewart-Biggs, whose husband, the British Ambassador to Eire, was killed by an IRA car bomb in 1976, and Veronica Atkinson and family who cowered in the basement of the British Embassy in Bucharest during the 1989 uprising that overthrew the Romanian dictator Nicolai Ceaucescu.

What frequently unites Hickman's wildly different subjects is their loneliness--drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs, she portrays women who had to discipline themselves to adapt (often ingeniously) to unfamiliar cultures, far away from friends and family--many, in particular, were separated from their children, who would be sequestered at boarding school back in Britain--while maintaining an unimpeachable public image. "I shall be obliged to travel three or four days between Buda and Essek without finding any house at all, through desert plains covered with snow, where the cold is so violent many have been killed by it", wrote Lady Mary Wortley Montagu of her treacherous journey to Constantinople in 1716. Almost 300 years later, in 1996, Stephanie Hopkinson wryly itemised the "bizarre qualifications" necessary for daily diplomatic life in a Sarajevo under siege: "Ability to...apply make-up in the dark; aptitude for for bathing in a cold teacup and keeping one's hair/self/clothes clean and uncrumpled as long as possible ...vivid imagination which converts tinned frankfurters, bread and rice into smoked salmon/steak and chips...". Resourcefulness is a common link between the Daughters of Britannia; Katie Hickman has written a fascinating book.--Catherine Taylor

Review:

Her last book, A Trip to the Light Fantastic, received extraordinarily good reviews:

‘The most ambitiously imaginative sort of travel writing’
- Patrick Skene Catling

‘Magic is at the heart of Hickman’s narrative. Her characters would not seem out of place in the oeuvre of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende’
- Sunday Times

‘Mexico will not have been portrayed more vividly since Graham Greene’s The Lawless Roads... Enchanting’
- Geoffrey Moorhouse, Daily Telegraph

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780060934231: Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives

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ISBN 10:  0060934239 ISBN 13:  9780060934231
Publisher: Harper Perennial, 2002
Softcover

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Willia..., 2001
Hardcover

9780006387800: Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives

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9780002557146: Daughters of Britannia: The Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives

Harper..., 1999
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9780007122219: Illustrated Daughters of Britannia the public and private worlds of the diplomatic wife

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