Antonia Fraser

Listen in pop-out player

Kirsty Young's castaway on Desert Island Discs this week is the writer Antonia Fraser. Born Antonia Pakenham, the eldest of eight children, it was while growing up in Oxford that she became fascinated with the past and would make daily trips to the town's library to fuel her passion for history. With seven brothers and sisters it was, she says, "something of mine". Her father, Lord Longford, was a classicist and their lives were rich with interesting visitors like John Betjeman, William Beveridge and Isaiah Berlin. Both her parents stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidates.

An internationally regarded historian, her best-selling books are credited with bringing the past to life, full of painstakingly researched detail and strong narrative. Her first job was in publishing, working for George Weidenfeld and then marrying the Tory MP Hugh Fraser. She wrote the first of her best selling historical biographies, Mary Queen of Scots in 1969 while the mother of six young children - "the little baby enjoyed the sound of the typewriter".

Along with her husband, Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, she has been at the centre of London's literati for well over 30 years. Her writing is still "place of solitude and a solace".

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: 3rd Movement of Piano Concerto No. 23 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Book: The complete works by Walter Scott
Luxury: Strings and strings of false pearls.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 1 Aug 2008 09:00


Role Contributor
PresenterKirsty Young
Interviewed GuestAntonia Fraser

Featured in...