"In history," wrote the distinguished 19th century novelist Prosper Merimee, "I love only anecdotes, and among anecdotes I prefer those where I think that I can distinguish a true picture of the customs and characters of any given period." From this passage Peter Quennell has taken the title of this book. In CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERS, he concentrates on portraying a remarkably diverse collection of men and women who have interested and impressed him during the last 50 years.
His portraits are candid, sharply drawn, and frequently affectionate. Among the subjects he has chosen are: Greta Garbo, Cecil Beaton, Lady Diana Cooper, Augustus John, Alice Keppel (friend and confidante of Kind Edward VII) and her daughter Violet Trefusis, Harold and Vita Nicolson, Roger Fry, Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macauley, T. S. Eliot, Triehard de Chardin, and the celebrated woman of fashion Daisy Fellowes.
Admirable, enviable, disturbing, or outrageous, each of these portraits is brought to life with Quennell's signature lightness of touch and depth of insight.