My History

A Memoir of Growing Up

Publisher: Anchor Canada
The doyenne of the historical biography turns the spotlight on her childhood and early life.


Antonia Fraser's memoir of growing up is not only an attempt to recapture the experiences of her Oxford childhood and youth--in Shakespeare's phrase, to "call back yesterday, bid time return." It is also a chronicle of the progress of her love of history since her first discovery of it as a private pleasure when she was a child in the 1930s--her history, as she believed it to be, for the study of history (as her books subsequently attest) has always been an essential part of the enjoyment of life. When Antonia received as a Christmas present a copy of Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall in 1936, it engendered a lifelong interest in History, firing her emotion to write the story that thirty years later became the globally bestselling Mary Queen of Scots.
     Antonia's mother, born Elizabeth Harman, was the daughter of a Harley Street doctor; her father, Frank Pakenham, was the second son of the Earl of Longford. With the coming of war, Antonia's happy childhood in the Sussex of Puck of Pook's Hill was succeeded by an evacuation to an Elizabethan manor house near Oxford, which had a profound effect on her imagination. A North Oxford upbringing, including life at the Dragon School, followed, and later a Catholic convent which she attended as a Protestant and emerged as a Catholic. In the meantime, holidays included adventures with relatives in Anglo-Ireland at Dunsany Castle and Pakenham Hall, before rather less glamorous work experience as "Miss Tony" in the hat department of a famous London store. After Oxford University came a job in publishing, a fortunate coincidence for one whose sole ambition was to write--and to write history.
     Her magical memoir, told with inimitable humour and style, is an unforgettable account of the making of a great narrative historian.

PRAISE FOR

"The history of a writer's love affair with her vocation, and her nostalgia for the childhood 'wonderland' that engendered it . . . In My History, skillfully wielding her well-honed biographer's tools, Fraser shows what it felt like to be Antonia Pakenham, eliciting warm fellow feeling even in readers who themselves are nothing like a dame." —The New York Times Book Review

"As a writer of history, writing about herself, [Antonia Fraser] places her life confidently in a shared past. . . . Fraser's stories are always well honed, sometimes so well that she is asking the reader to enjoy rather than believe them in every respect." —The Times Literary Supplement (UK)


From the Hardcover edition.