Here’s a picture of Lillie Langtry in a big hat. Rather splendid, isn’t it? She was a beautiful actress who ran her own production company and starred in She Stoops to Conquer and As You Like It but she was most famed for being the mistress of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII, a man of gluttonous, lascivious tastes). She was, in short, a naughty Edwardian in a Victorian age. She also used to live at times in The Cadogan Hotel on London’s Sloane Street where throughout the summer on Monday afternoons – starting on July 1 – I will be giving talks and taking questions on Downton Abbey over cups of Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches. It couldn’t be a more perfect setting, could it?
Tea at the Cadogan is done in partnership with Partridges and is a sumptuous affair with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries and the famous Chelsea Bun.
For details on dates and how to buy tickets, please see here.
This is just a little heads up to say that I’m talking this weekend on Saturday 10th November at 11.45am in St Edmund’s Hall, Southwold, as part of the Ways With Words festival. Tickets are £10.
See details here: Southwold Ways With Words
Then on November 20th at 7pm in the Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London, I’ll be on a panel with Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame (executive producer) and Allen Leech (Branson), being interviewed by John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times. Tickets are £15, or £10 for Times+ members.
See details here: Times+ event London
Last night was the Harper Collins Summer Party for Authors. It was only my second time there but I was as excited about it as the time I was nine and my best friend was having a roller skating party. Last year I was on a rare night off the leash – my baby boy was still just under a year old – and having thought it would be a rather formal evening of networking and sucking up to publishers, I unexpectedly had the delight of getting mildly drunk on mojitos with Dan Stevens (Matthew in Downton Abbey).
The evening didn’t start brilliantly when I arrived to find that there was no badge with my name on it. They do a rather clever, quirky thing where all the authors get yellow badges (‘Jessica Fellowes Harper Collins Author’), in proper old-skool metal, round shapes with safety pins. Agents and press have silver, and Harper Collins staff have green. The girl at the desk scribbled my name on to a conference-type plastic thing, saying, apologetically, ‘Victoria prefers that everyone has one…’. In a rare fit of divadom, I decided it wasn’t befitting a Number One Bestselling Author and stuffed it in my bag. (Wearing: long white halter neck cotton dress with brilliant red coral print by Heidi Klein, gold heels and – for a trendy-clashing-print-effect-I-hope – black and white toile de jouy oversized clutch.) I go over to the first group of people I know: Gareth Neame, the executive producer of Downton Abbey, Hannah MacDonald, the publisher of The World of Downton Abbey and a couple of others. Victoria is brought over to meet us. Victoria is Victoria Barnsley – the head honcho of Harper Collins, the issuer of the invitation and the ultimate publisher of my book. Also, the one who was keen on the wearing of badges. But SHE wasn’t wearing one.
After that, it was all a rather delicious haze. The party was at The Orangery in Kensington Palace, we were all feeling summery and happy after a hot day, and our hosts were generous with their champagne and cocktails (also with canapés but I missed them as I got there an hour late and also missed the bar that had nothing but cupcakes, damn). It’s exciting to hang out with so many people in one’s world after months of writing alone at the kitchen table. There were oodles of Importants there but I was shameful about meeting anyone new and hung out with an old university friend, now agent, Lucy Luck and my own agent, Rowan Lawton. We gossiped and chatted and cavorted and eventually led a parade to Mahiki, where the official after party was. Once there we remembered that we weren’t in fact 20 years old and trying to snog Prince Harry and left after one violently pink oversized cocktail called Larging It or something equally ludicrous. What jolly fun.