Sir Arthur Bryant, historian and newspaper columnist, was a stalwart defender of the Victorian age. Born in 1899, and raised in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, where his father was an official, he lamented every development of the twentieth century, from motorcars to pop music and television. To his mind, there had been no greater time than when Britain ruled the waves and her society was governed by the traditional values of honour, deference, patriotism and self-restraint.
But behind this façade lurked another, more liberal life as an unlikely Casanova.
Only a handful of ordinary women, including Sir Arthur’s two ex-wives, several former secretaries and at least one duchess, were aware that the historian had another, more human side.
In Historic Affairs W. Sydney Robinson pieces together the jigsaw of Sir Arthur’s last years, when the veteran womaniser manipulated – and was himself manipulated by – a number of ‘muses’, including his former secretary, Pamela Street, and Laura, Duchess of Marlborough. Drawing on many thousands of newly discovered letters and diaries, Robinson portrays a man caught in the chasm between his public image and private passions.