10 January 2010

lady diana & a tease

 in anticipation of  a week of devastating beauty~

a English beauty of the first water

Lady Diana Olivia Winifred Maud Manners
 of the Coterie

A duke's daughter ~ officially.


wife of Ambassador Duff Cooper
Vicountess-yet preferred
"Lady Diana"

writer ~ autobiographer

 bon vivant

read more about the Lady

at Rose C'est La Vie HERE
An Aesthete's Lament HERE
Emily Evans Eerdmans HERE


  1. Beautiful, beautiful woman! The images are very special indeed!

  2. What a beaut. I love finding out about strong women like this. Do you know of Ottoline Morel and Mildred Bruce?

  3. Wonderful paintings and they have her essence exactly.
    Little pinched nose and cupid bow mouth always makes an enchanting portrait.

  4. Fifteen years ago or so, I conducted a private tour of the Auditorium Theatre for a very elderly architect from the North Shore. He was a Modernist, but he had studied the work of Adler & Sullivan for years, and since I had been working full time at the theatre for five years, there wasn't much that either of us could learn from the other when it comes to the architecture of the place, so my 'tour' consisted of the two of us wandering around the second floor lobby--he was too old to climb all the stairs up to the balcony--looking at Sullivan's ornamental details while he told me the kind of stories that never make it into the architectural history books--like the time he fell head over heels in love with Diana Cooper while she was in Chicago appearing in The Miracle.

    He said that in his younger days he had a habit of developing crushes on pretty chorines (and there's a word you don't hear anymore) but that he was always disappointed when he met them outside of a theater, because all the things that made them so appealing onstage--their innocent freshness & energy--seemed to have been left behind in the dressing room when they changed into their street clothes, and he said he was never so aware of what the other girls lacked as he was after he met Diana Cooper, who was, as he said to me "The Real Thing. And more!" Then again, Diana Cooper was hardly a struggling artist just trying to make ends meet.

    My visitor, had gone to the opening night of The Miracle with a college pal, and the pal's mother was friends with a Chicago woman whom they saw in the lobby & and went over to greet. And that woman turned out to have a daughter in the show. And not only that, she was hosting a private party for the cast afterwards, and she invited my architect & his pal to come along. So they saw the show and went to the party, where they saw not only a lot of Chicago friends, but also met Rosamund Pinchot, Diana Cooper & DC's mother, Violet Manners, the Duchess of Rutland, who was in town for opening night.

    Pinchot, he said, was beautiful and the Duchess was "frightfully old--but charming" but Diana Cooper was "beyond all words: beautiful, brilliant & utterly mesmerizing"...


  5. ...continued

    Pinchot, he said, was beautiful and the Duchess was "frightfully old--but charming" but Diana Cooper was "beyond all words: beautiful, brilliant & utterly mesmerizing". That was how my guest described her, and he told me that his biggest regret had always been that, in his total & instant infatuation, he had been unable to string three intelligent words together, leading DC (he feared) to think of him as just another hick from the sticks with a thing for actresses. Nevertheless, she was unfailingly gracious, acting as if she were fascinated by his incoherent conversation, spending so much time with him that his hostess finally had to intervene, at which point DC gave him her hand, saying "I do so hope we shall meet again some time." It was the last time he ever saw her.

    He said that, in later years, his wife always told her friends that she never needed to worry about his being unfaithful to her, partly because no other woman could ever hold a candle to his Immaculate Fantasy of Diana Cooper, but mostly because she--the real DC--was both devoted to her husband & safely on the other side of the world.

    Then my visitor opened his wallet to show me two pictures. On one side, a color snap of a smiling, apple-cheeked matron in a glittery 7Os-style dress, and on the other side, a dramatic & elegant black-&-white profile of an swan-necked Diana Cooper in a nun's habit.

    My visitor was himself pretty elegant & charming--imagine an elderly Cary Grant, without the looks--and I saw in the local paper a few months later that he had died. A few months after that, I got a FedEx delivery from his widow. It was an original souvenir program from The Miracle, with beautiful color plates of the cosutumes designed for it, all drawn in a mock-medieval style, with the figures drawn in theattenuated style one associated with the carvings on Gothic cathedrals. The Madonna's costume, is of course, the most elegant of all, although nowhere nearly as elegant as it is in that photo of Diana Cooper.

  6. Esteemed Magnaverde, this story is why I write this little thing here so often. All these special people that cross paths with the famous-so many of them special too. That photograph-I think is the one I posted when writing on Rosamund Pinchot( her granddaughter wrote a book about her-I recommend it, another story there) Love does last- even the kind that is quite unrequited as that photograph he saved attests, how lovely that he remembered you with the program. I can just-see his story being played out on the stage. thank you-GT

  7. LA, I need to get the Pinchot book, which I had never heard of until you posted about it last summer. The new problem with books--for me--is that I don't like to buy from Amazon. You can't beat their prices, but they are one of the reasons two of my favorite bookstores have closed down in the last year. People who wouldn't dream of not tipping a waiter in a nice restaurant don't want to spend those same few dollars for for the knowledgable staff at a good bookstore.

    The Prairie Avenue Bookshop--right across the street from the Auditorium--was called 'The Greatest Architectural Bookstore in the World' and for the last 15 years, all my architecture & design & decorating books came right off their shelves. And my other books came from a shop in Wisconsin, where, if they didn't have something I needed--and they never did--it was OK, because they were nice people & they'd order it for me & when I went back to pick it up on the next trip up to my dad's, they always offered me a cup of coffee & homemade cookies & let me play Glove with the shop's dog.

    Now, all those nice people are out of work & their stores sit vacant, all so people can save a few bucks on a book, which money they then turn around & give back anyway, when they buy a few five-dollar cups of coffee at the chain coffee place on the corner--coffee that the bookstore used to provide for free, except that theirs tasted good all by itself: you didn't have to load it up with syrup & cream to hide the flavor. What's wrong with this picture? At any rate, I still need to get the Pinchot book.

    Anyway, after reading your original post (and yes, that's the same DC picture as my guy had: she must have sent it to everyone) I had an odd hunch about something, so I looked up the date & the ship that Rosamund & her mother were sailing on when they met Max Reinhardt, The Miracle's producer, and sure enough, it was the same ship that Rue Winterbotham Carpenter & her daughter Ginny were on, heading home after spending a season slumming around on the Riviera with Sara & Gerald Murphy & Cole Porter & Picasso and who knows who else.

    The Aquitania was a big ship, but the two mother-&-daughter pairs were within a few years of each otherm in age (45 & 19 vs. 51 & 21) and with two young & beautiful girls & their highly cultured mothers on board--and especially with argus-eyed Max Reinhardt scanning the deckchairss like a hawk, looking for his next pretty face--I figure that at some point, they all ended laughing & drinking at one big table. Prohibition might have been in effect, but not on a British ship on the high seas.

    This story, though, unlike the one above, doesn't really have a conclusion, but maybe it does & I just don't know it. Either way, I'd be willing to bet that a few years latyer, RWC & her charming daughter were at the same post-Miracle party that my architect attended.

    BTW, in the Library of Congress' American Memory collection, there's a photo of Violet Manners in the lobby of the Auditorium Theatre, looking like she'd much rather be someplace else. For years, I never knew what she was doing at my theater, but in the wake of that excellent Rosamund Pinchot post last fall, I finally figured it out. I owe you a drink if you ever come to Chicago.

  8. Do get the book-try Abebooks-representing all little and independent booksellers-I get many here and always feel good about my purchases too. The book is a must read- I heard from RP's granddaughter the author-Bibi Gaston-a noted landscape architect-her story and the quest to know her grandmother is a story.There, I need to follow up with an interview! A drink Yes,but
    Only If I get that tour you dodged with Diana's would be beau, pgt

  9. I think Diana Cooper preferred the title Lady Diana Cooper to Viscountess Norwich because it outclasses a viscountess, (in that it refers to the fact that she was the daughter of a peer, in her case, a duke). She apparently always (deliberately one assumes)mis-spelt Norwich as Norrich.

  10. Columnist-I read somewhere that the whole thing sound like "porridge" to her.G

  11. Any blog and any topic that gets Magnaverde to sally forth in such wonderful prose is all right be me! It's not a topic I am drawn to, but I simply love hear Magnaverde hold court. Thanks GT for being the divine medium.

  12. LA - Indeed "Norwich" must always be pronounced like "porridge", however spelt!



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