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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Alpine heat

Saturday, September 8th., Annecey.

This was our hottest day so far. I began a rough preliminary sketch of my new film and I did about a third of it in the morning before a bathe. We bathed with Diana Cooper, Lady Horner, who had her two grand-daughters, Lady Helen and Lady Perdita Asquith with her, and the boy, Lord Oxford.

Lady Diana Cooper, Viscountess Norwich (29 August 1892 – 16 June 1986) was a prominent social figure in London and Paris, widely acknowledged as the beauty of the century. The young Diana moved in a celebrated group of intellectuals, most of them killed in World War I. She married one of the only survivors, Duff Cooper, later Ambassador to France. After his death, she wrote three volumes of memoirs which reveal much about 20th-century upper-class life.


I talked to the old lady while on the raft. The Diana-Horner party went off to lunch at Talloires.

Talloires is located south of Geneva, Switzerland, on Lake Annecy and 13 km (8.1 mi) from the local "prefecture" Annecy, near the border of Italy. The town is situated in the French Alps, along a bay on the east side of the lake.

Duff Cooper had arrived in the early afternoon from Geneva.

Alfred Duff Cooper, 1st Viscount Norwich GCMG, DSO, PC (22 February 1890 – 1 January 1954), known as Duff Cooper, was a British Conservative Party politician, diplomat and author. He wrote six books, including an autobiography, Old Men Forget, and a biography of Talleyrand. He wrote one novel, Operation Heartbreak (1950).

He and Diana were returning from a rowing excursion (and reading Wells's new novel aloud to one another on the lake) just as Dorothy and I were finishing tea on the terrace.

H. G. Wells in The Shape of Things to Come, published in 1934, predicted a Second World War in which Britain would not participate but would vainly try to effect a peaceful compromise. In this vision, Duff Cooper was mentioned as one of several prominent Britons delivering "brilliant pacific speeches" which "echo throughout Europe" but fail to end the war (the other would-be peacemakers, in Wells' vision, included Hore Belisha, Ellen Wilkinson and Randolph Churchill).

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