Tuesday, November 02, 2010

An Estonian Childhood by Tania Alexander

Regular readers will know of my interest in - and debt of gratitude to - Nick Clegg's great great aunt Moura Budberg. It was writing an article about the old girl for the New Statesman website that got me a fortnightly column there for a while.

Back on this blog, I suggested three years ago that anyone who shares this interest should also read the Times obituary of Budberg's daughter Tania Alexander.

The good news is that Alexander's memoir An Estonian Childhood has recently been republished as a Faber Find:
The tone of her memoir, mainly set in Kallij√§rv, is almost idyllic, surprisingly so given the political upheaval of the period. In her own words ‘my early life was influenced by three women, all of them complex characters and strong personalities, who had to find their own way of adapting to very different from those they might have expected to enjoy. My Irish governess, Micky, sacrificed her family and suffered exile - a mother ostracised by the pressure of Victorian values. My Aunt Zoria lost everyone who was dear to her, as well as her homeland and her position in society. And my mother, who stayed behind in Russia throughout the terrifying events of the revolution and civil war, lost her home, her husband and, perhaps most important to her, her great love - a loss which profoundly affected the rest of her life.’

Her mother was Baroness Moura Budberg and ‘her great love’ was the famous diplomat and spy, Robert Bruce Lockhart, expelled from Russia in 1918. Among her other lovers were Maxim Gorky and H. G. Wells who both feature in this memoir.
You can also find The Condition of England by my favourite Edwardian Liberal Charles Masterman republished in this Faber series.

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