An evening with Not Far From Brideshead author, Daisy Dunn 

We were delighted to hold our first author talk of 2022 as historian Daisy Dunn spoke about her latest book, Not Far From Brideshead: Oxford Between the Wars.

woman at table with books

Dr Daisy Dunn is an award-winning author and classicist. She read Classics at the University of Oxford, before completing a Master’s in the History of Art at the Courtauld in London, and PhD at University College London. Her previous books have been on Classical history and legend, but in her new book, she turned to a remarkable period in Oxford, filled with characterful dons, and equally lively students, some fresh from school and others bringing back their experiences of the First World War.

Cover of Not Far from BridesheadHer talk explored Oxford’s pre-war influence on politics, and the changes within this period including increased numbers of female students, drawing on the experiences and writing of Vera Brittain, and Elizabeth Longford. She looked at Oxford through the eyes of an incomer, T.S. Eliot, and established figures including Maurice Bowra. And of course more light-heartedly, she discussed the real-life figures, both students and academics, whose adventures involving frivolities and fast cars, were immortalised by Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited.

“I’m so glad to welcome Daisy to West Horsley Place,”, said Clare Clinton, Arts, Heritage and Learning Manager at West Horsley Place, “We had planned an event with Daisy in 2020, so I’m delighted to be able to hold it now with her wonderful new book, Not Far from Brideshead. It’s great to see an audience here again, and of course, West Horsley Place has many literary connections and our own beautiful library.”

woman speaker standing addressing audience

Daisy Dunn explained her links with the house, “Living locally, I had always admired West Horsley Place, without really knowing anything about it. I therefore recognised it when it was photographed in the national press after Bamber Gascoigne inherited it. I thought, goodness, what a fascinating story! I enjoyed a tour of the house soon after and fell in love with the place. It immediately felt warm and homely even though, then in in the middle of winter, there was as yet no central heating!

It was such an honour to be the first author to speak there. It was something I had had in my diary since spring 2020 for the publication of my previous book. Coming back to West Horsley Place two years later than planned could not have felt more celebratory. The house and its gardens will always be very special to me.”

There were keen questions from the audience, and queues for Daisy to sign copies of her book before and after her talk. Thanks to Waterstone’s, Guildford for joining us to sell books, and of course to Daisy Dunn.

Income from ticket sales helps the West Horsley Place Trust repair and rejuvenate West Horsley Place. We look forward to more author events this year, and to welcoming Daisy again with her next book.