This is an enchanting and wonderfully evocative memoir of Anny Thackeray, daughter of the author of Vanity Fair, aunt of Virginia Woolf (who used her as the model for Mrs Hilberry in Night and Day). Anny was a writer herself and her novels and memoirs were much praised, but she was even more dearly loved for her eccentric, astoundingly muddled ways and her enormous sympathy for others. At the book's heart are two interwoven stories. The first is Anny's near-obsession with her father, Thackeray, and her startling marriage to a man who was not only eighteen years her junior, but was her second-cousin, and even her godson (they fell in love when he was still at school). The second, tragic strand is the tale of her sister Minny's passionate marriage to Leslie Stephen, the craggy, moody, mountain-climbing father of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. The book also, inevitably, paints the world of Anny's intricate web of relations and friends - children's parties with the Dickens family, chaotic holidays with Julia Margaret Cameron and the Tennysons on the Isle of Wight, a dash to help a spinster aunt stuck in Paris during the siege of 1870, intimate scenes with Browning in Rome and Ruskin on Lake Coniston. All these people appear in a different, more personal light than we are used to. Henrietta Garnett is herself related to Anny - this is a family story, drawing not only on a wealth of letters, journals, hitherto unpublished sketches and photographs, but also on the treasure of family legends passed down through three generations.
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Henrietta Garnett is the daughter of Angelica Garnett, granddaughter of the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and daughter-in-law of the diarist Frances Partridge. She lives in France.
Anny by Henrietta Garnett
Used - Very Good
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