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James Lees-Milne


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James Lees-Milne
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1975. Ancestral Voices

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Lees-Milne, James. 'Ancestral Voices' published in 1985 in Great Britain by Faber and Faber in paperback, 302pp, ISBN 0571133258. Condition: fair or acceptable condition - the book is wholly intact and readable, but the spine is weak at pages 134-135. The cover and internal pages are slightly tanned (or foxed with age). There is slight creasing and rubbing to the cover edges. Price: £8.99, not including post and packing (which is Amazon UK's standard charge, currently £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1985, Faber and Faber, pbk
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  • Ancestral Voices [top]
    First published in 1975 in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus in hardback with dustjacket, 302pp, ISBN 0701121106
    First published in 1984 in Great Britain by Faber and Faber in paperback, 302pp, ISBN 0571133258
    Reprinted in 1985 in Great Britain by Faber and Faber in paperback, 302pp, ISBN 0571133258

About this book: Ancestral Voices is the first of three volumes of a diary James Lees-Milne kept from 1942-1947 when he was employed to inspect historic buildings offered by their eccentric or impecunious owners to the National Trust. Lively, frank, witty, sometimes scandalous, it is immensely entertaining reading. From the introduction: "A distinguished friend recently suggested that I should record some past encounters with the owners and donors of historic houses during the course of my work with the National Trust. My immediate response was "No". A string of disconnected anecdotes and names would not be edifying or entertaining. Pressed once more by my friend, I thought again. Well! there were those dusty packets of day-to-day diaries stowed away upstairs. Could I bring myself to re-peruse the adolescent, opinionative, supercilious jottings? I did so, with the partial result here presented. Inevitably I have misgivings, because the priggish young man who wrote them is someone whom I had long forgotten, and someone with whom, upon re-acquaintance, I am not whole-heartedly pleased. Moreover, I no longer share many of his too glibly expressed views.

An introductory word or two seem necessary here. In March 1936 I joined the staff of the National Trust and in September 1939, I left it for war service. After a short and inglorious career in the army, I was discharged in 1941 for health reasons, and towards the end of that year, I rejoined the National Trust Staff. When the diaries opened in January 1942, the National Trust office was installed in West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire, whither it had been evacuated in the first months of war. Some of the staff, including myself, lodged in the house. The office remained at West Wycombe until January 1943, when the Executive Committee deemed it safe and suitable for the files (and the staff) to return to their old premises in Buckingham Palace Gardens SW1. I then lived in No. 104 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea till the end of WW2...


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