The Story of Lady Astor
By Adrian Fort
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312599034, 378pp.
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
A new biography of Nancy Astor, American socialite and social crusader who blazed a trail through British society amid two World Wars
In 1919, Nancy Astor became the first female Member of Parliament elected to the House of Commons she was not what had been expected. Far from a virago who had suffered for the cause of female suffrage, Lady Astor was already near the center of the ruling society that had for so long resisted the political upheavals of the early twentieth century, having married into one of the richest families in the world. She wasn't even British, but the daughter of a famous Virginian family, and fiercely proud of her expatriate ancestry. But her moral drive was strong, and she would utilize her position of privilege and influence to blow a bracing American wind into what she regarded as the stuffy corners of British politics.
This account charts Nancy Astor's incredible story, from relative penury in the American South to a world of enormous countryside estates and townhouses, and the most lavish entertainments, peopled by the great figures of the day Churchill, Chamberlain, FDR, Charlie Chapin, J. M. Barrie, and Lawrence of Arabia were all part of her social circle. But hers was not to be an easy life of power and pure glamour; it was also defined by principles and bravery, war and sacrifice, love, and the most embittered disputes.
With glorious, page-turning brio, Adrian Fort brings to life this restless, controversial American dynamo, an unforgettable woman who left a deep and lasting imprint on the political life of a nation.
“‘I am the kind of woman I would run from.’ That was how Nancy Astor described herself, yet this society hostess, groundbreaking politician, and sharp-tongued wit was someone you very much want to read about.” —The Daily Beast
“An entertaining biography of the Virginia belle who crossed the Atlantic—and was soon engaged in conversational combat with the likes of Stalin and Churchill.” —Vogue.com
“Admirably brave . . . a marvelous subject for biography. Mr. Fort adds a sober assessment of her political skills, a love of the rich tapestry of her life and a good ear for the anecdotes with which it was filled.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Perceptive and lively, sympathetic and honest, “Nancy” embodies the best of popular biography.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Fast-paced, exhaustively detailed, and crisply told . . . Fort's compulsively readable work is an inspiring tale of an energetic woman—far ahead of her time—tirelessly working to pave the way for future generations.” —Publishers Weekly
“She was brash and had a knack of infuriating people, but she was still the political hostess of the generation. . . . She was assertive to the point of bullying and had a caustic wit—a loose cannon who, in spite of herself, managed to aid the English in their struggle through the Depression and two world wars. . . . A wonderful history of tumultuous times.” —Kirkus Reviews