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  • Published: 18 November 2022
  • ISBN: 9781529151725
  • Imprint: Hutchinson Heinemann
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1168
  • RRP: $75.00

Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries (Volume 3): 1943-57



The third and final volume of the Sunday Times bestselling diaries of Sir Henry 'Chips' Channon.

This third and final volume of the unexpurgated diaries of Sir Henry 'Chips' Channon begins as the Second World War is turning in the Allies' favour. It ends with Chips descending into poor health but still able to turn a pointed phrase about the political events that swirl around him and the great and the good with whom he mingles.

Throughout these final fourteen years Chips assiduously describes events in and around Westminster, gossiping about individual MPs' ambitions and indiscretions, but also rising powerfully to the occasion to capture the mood of the House on VE Day or the ceremony of George VI's funeral. His energies, though, are increasingly absorbed by a private life that at times reaches Byzantine levels of complexity. We encounter the London of the theatre and the cinema, peopled by such figures as John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, as well as a seemingly endless grand parties at which Chips might well rub shoulders with Cecil Beaton, the Mountbattens, or any number of dethroned European monarchs.

He has been described as 'The greatest British diarist of the 20th century'. This final volume fully justifies that accolade.

  • Published: 18 November 2022
  • ISBN: 9781529151725
  • Imprint: Hutchinson Heinemann
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1168
  • RRP: $75.00

About the author

Chips Channon

Sir Henry (Chips) Channon was born in Chicago in 1897 (although he claimed 1899 as the year of his birth, until the true facts were exposed – to his embarrassment – in the Sunday Express). The son of a wealthy businessman, he accompanied the American Red Cross to Paris in 1917, was an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, and then settled in London where he mingled with society and enjoyed the high life. He married into the Guinness family, and became a Conservative MP for Southend from 1935 until his death. He knew or was friends with all the leading politicians and aristocrats of the period, wined and dined Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in the months before the Abdication crisis, and observed at first hand the last days of appeasement. He died in 1958. Elliot Templeton in Somerset Maugham's novel The Razor's Edge (1944) and the disappointed schoolmaster Croker-Harris in Rattigan's play The Browning Version (1948) were partly inspired by Channon.

Also by Chips Channon

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Praise for Henry ‘Chips’ Channon: The Diaries (Volume 3): 1943-57

An instant classic. The thing that makes the diary so compelling is [Channon's] ability to characterise the privileged elite of London Society. The diary is his masterpiece, written with freshness and verve . . . In spite of Chips's prejudices and snobbishness, his diaries are quite simply the greatest social and political diaries of the 20th century. The three published volumes, each one 1,000-plus pages long, record a vanished world of privilege, promiscuity and inequality - a vast cast of characters, aristocrats, royalties and American socialites. Simon Heffer has done a marvellous job of editing the manuscript. He identifies everything the reader needs to know, but his notes never get between the reader and the text.

Daily Telegraph

Another 1,000-plus pages of Chips Channon's unexpurgated diaries - with barely a dull passage among them, Simon Heffer's editing has been as adroit as the task is monumental, and his stamina as bottomless as his subject's . . . It is never less than diverting.

New Statesman

Nothing compares with the unexpurgated Channon diaries. They are rich, exuberant, copious and shatteringly honest. For those interested in the parliamentary politics of 20th-century England, in the conniving and jostling among European traders of influence, in the swansong of aristocratic glamour in Mayfair and Belgravia, in the capering duplicity necessitated by a criminalised sexuality, the diaries are matchless . . . His editor Simon Heffer, who has been deftly aided by Hugo Vickers, deserves a lifetime award for his strenuous efforts in mastering 3,000 pages of text with such precision and nimble wit.

The Spectator

[The diaries] have disappointed no one in search of gossip, breathtaking snobbery and prejudice, as well as being a window on the political scene . . . It's the parliamentary picture that is of chief value. Channon was a political lightweight, but his diaries will be a historians' resource for centuries.

Country Life

Chips writes with such vividness that one feels one is living each day in his exalted company . . . An infectious joie de vivre permeates . . . No reader could not be absorbed by his unorthodox depiction of 1940s London and the following decade.

Oldie

Magnificently indiscreet . . . No praise is too high for the diaries' editor Simon Heffer . . . Channon excels in descriptions of great parliamentary events . . and other accounts of important occasions, read in their entirety, are profoundly moving . . . What unending joy Channon will bring to his readers through these irresistible records of upper-class life in a vanished Britain.

Lord Lexden, The House magazine

Scrupulous . . . relieved by flashes of malicious wit.

Literary Review

An utterly addictive glimpse of London high society and politics in the 40s and 50s, superlatively edited by Simon Heffer.

Robert Harris

Chips Channon is irresistibly entertaining company - at any rate in print . . . All in all, a pretty disgraceful life that is a guilty pleasure to read about.

Peter Parker, Spectator

Reading Chips is a mesmerising experience. The diaries give a riveting account of politics and society in Britain from the 1920s through to the 1950s. Snobbish and judgmental, Channon is not a likeable character, but the waspishness is what makes him a great diarist. Heffer is an exemplary editor.

Jane Ridley, Spectator

Channon is honest, frank, intelligent, and wrong about practically everything, but always intensely readable.

Books of the Year, Spectator

Chips is raised from the dead.

Best Biographies of 2022, Daily Telegraph

The MP and socialite 'Chips' Channon was an unlikeable character - bitchy, snobby, prejudiced and caustic. But those vices make him an entertaining diarist. This is the final volume of a triologywhich provides a running commentary on high society and politics from the 1920s onwards, edited with aplomb by Simon Heffer.

Biography and Memoir Book of the Year 2022, The Times

A veritable treasure trove . . . Generations to come will view Heffer's work as an incredible source for studying the interwar, war and postwar years. Yet, the diaries are also a human story, portraying a man's life from early adulthood to premature death. Chips knew everyone, went everywhere and had an opinion on everything.

The Critic Magazine

The great political diaries - think 'Chips' Channon, Tony Benn, Alan Clark, Alastair Campbell or Chris Mullin - offer an insight into politics and a flavour of the writer's personality that no other form can.

Spectator

Heffer has done a great service to political diary writing . . . Herculean work on a political world now long vanished.

Order! Order! Magazine

A masterpiece.

Robert Harris, Books of the Year, Sunday Times

You are wooed into a world of upper-class intrigue and indiscretions, played out in Westminster, Belgravia and snooty country mansions.

Books of the Year, Daily Mail

I have embarked on Simon Heffer's hefty yet meticulously edited three-volume edition of the diaries of 'Chips' Channon . . . and [Chips] does write beguilingly well.

Gyles Brandreth, The Oldie

A scurrilous read. Fascinating. Gripping!

Alan Titchmarsh, Best Books of 2022, Daily Mail

Three formidable volumes have appeared, admirably edited by Simon Heffer displaying considerable scholarship . . . Channon, for all his misjudgements, ingratiating behaviour and bigotry, is revealing about public and private life, society and sexuality, and honest about himself to a degree that makes these Diaries a weird kind of masterpiece.

LRB

The greatest British diarist of the 20th century. A feast of weapons-grade above-stairs gossip.

Ben MacIntyre, The Times

Wickedly entertaining . . . scrupulously edited and annotated by Simon Heffer. Genuinely shocking, and still revelatory.

Andrew Marr, New Statesman

Among the most glittering and enjoyable [diaries] ever written.

The Observer