Sunday, 2 February 2014

Margot Asquith

Just when I was thinking how sparse anniversaries are in this year compared with 2013, ODNB (free to access if you have a public library membership number) reminds us that Alice Emma Margaret (Margot) Tennant was born 150 years ago today. She married the widowed Liberal Herbert Asquith, who was to become prime minister on Campbell-Bannerman's death in 1908. Their son Anthony was to become an important British film-maker. (Some other Tennants went into show-business and the arts; Victoria is the latest.)

The Dictionary of National Biography entry concludes: "Margot had charmed Benjamin Jowett, had been given a private recital of 'Maud' by Tennyson, had watched the beautiful young duchess of Leinster making eleven perfect curtsies to royalties at an assembly, had launched a dreadnought, had knelt in prayer in a railway carriage with General Booth of the Salvation Army, had waltzed in a cabinet ante-room with Admiral Lord Fisher, had wept with the German ambassador on 4 August 1914 while he told her that Germany had 'never counted' that old Belgian treaty, and had lived to see Winston Churchill, for whom in 1915 she could foresee 'no political future', become the twelfth of the thirteen prime ministers she had known."

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