‘Margaret Kennedy caught just the taste of the time, mixing a stolid domestic Englishness with 'Continental' bohemians’ Irish Times
William and Emily Crowne seem to have it all – they live a life of privilege and glamour in London, the children of a successful poet, attractive, happy, largely blind to the world around them. But life takes an unexpected turn when their mother dies, and their father is caught up in the most scandalous and notorious of criminal trials. Suddenly effectively orphans, their aunt takes them in, and they grow up alongside their cousins, Trevor and Charlotte. But tensions and jealousies are rife between the four, and soon the Crowne children find that their father’s notoriety will follow them into their adult lives, with devastating consequences.
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"She is not only a romantic but an anarchist, and she knows the ways of men and women very well indeed" (Anita Brookner)
"Kennedy was immensely popular in her heyday" ( Washington Post)
"Margaret Kennedy's poised style, cool wit and skilful characterization kept her novels welcome for three decades" ( Cambridge Guide to Literature in English)
"Margaret Kennedy caught just the taste of the time, mixing a stolid domestic Englishness with 'Continental' bohemians" ( Irish Times)
Margaret Kennedy was born in London on 23 April 1896, the eldest of four children. She attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College, then went on to study history at Somerville College, Oxford. Her first book, a commissioned work of history, was published in 1922 and was soon followed by her first work of fiction, The Ladies of Lyndon (1923). Her second novel, The Constant Nymph (1924), became a worldwide bestseller, and with it Kennedy became a well-known and highly praised writer. The following year she married David Davies, a barrister; they lived in London and had three children. Kennedy went on to write fifteen further novels, many of which were critically commended – Troy Chimneys (1953) was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. She also wrote plays, adapting both The Constant Nymph and its sequel The Fool of the Family very successfully. The former opened in the West End in 1926, starring Noel Coward followed by John Gielgud, to great acclaim. Three different film versions of The Constant Nymph, featuring stars of the time such as Ivor Novello and Joan Fontaine, were equally popular, and led to Kennedy’s engagement in film work for a number of years from the late 1930s. She also published a study of Jane Austen (1950) and a work of literary criticism, The Outlaws on Parnassus, in 1958. In 1964 Margaret Kennedy moved from London to Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where she lived until her death on 31 July 1967.
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