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Sassoon: the Worlds of Philip and Sybil

Peter Stansky

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Summary

"Sir Philip Sassoon (1888-1939), a glamorous, well-known figure in Britain for the 1st four decades of the 20th century, was the most eligible bachelor & the greatest host of his time. He attained prominence in the art world, high society & politics. In contrast, his sister Sybil (1894-1989) lived a more private life. Yet she was fascinating in her own right, marrying into the grandest level of the English aristocracy, restoring Houghton--formerly the house of Sir Robert Walpole--to magnificence & serving in the high command of the Women's Royal Naval Service during both world wars." Stansky offers the findings of new archival research & a collection of photos to bring the Sassons & their period into focus. He provides an account of Philip's election as the youngest Member of Parliament & his service as military secretary to Douglas Haig during WWI & as parliamentary private secretary to Lloyd George afterwards. He follows Philip as he undertakes the building & renovation of town & country houses, cultivates friendships in a wide circle that includes the Royal Family, stages influential art exhibitions & serves as patron to John Singer Sargent & other artists. At the same time Philip was Under-Secretary of State for Air & later First Commissioner of Works. He also considers Sybil's development from wealthy debutante to the Marchioness of Cholmondeley & her patronage & conservation work. Using the lives of the Sassoon siblings as a lens thru which to view English life, particularly its highest reaches, Stansky offers insights into British attitudes toward power, politics, war, Jews, old vs new money, homosexuality, taste & style.

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Non-fiction Biography

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