Royal biographer Penny Junor
My husband James [Leith] and I posed for this picture for one of my sister-in-law Prue’s books. She wanted an Edwardian-style photo to accompany a wedding cake recipe. When you cook for [Bake Off judge] Prue, she’ll happily tell you if it’s disgusting.
Left: My neighbours James and Alison gave me this bag. We’re great friends but at first Alison didn’t want anything to do with me because of my book Charles: Victim Or Villain?, which came out after Diana died. Public disapproval is the price I pay for writing about the royals. Right: This was a gift from my publisher after I wrote Cliff Richard’s autobiography with him – we’d promoted it by driving around London in a bus, Summer Holiday-style. Cliff was such a delight, so normal and sweet. I went to his house in Barbados and he met me from my taxi, took my suitcase and made me a cup of tea. Not a flunkey in sight!
My house is full of paintings by my mother Pam. She was a fantastic, prolific artist but had no confidence in herself, thanks to my father running her down. They married during the war when she was 19 – she had planned to go to art school. But my father didn’t want her to work so she became a housewife.
My brother Roderick gave me this when I went to boarding school. He was five years older than me and I adored him. We had a very difficult father [newspaper editor John Junor] so we relied on one another as children. He became a journalist, too. I lost him to alcoholism and he died in 1997, just a few months after my father.
After we married, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom flat in Westbourne Grove [West London] and this sign was in it. We’ve hung it in every house we’ve owned since. We’ve lived in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, for more than 20 years and wild horses couldn’t take me back to London.
James gave me this for our 25th wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for 47 years. It’s worked because we’re both easy-going. He trained as an actor but was a stay-at-home dad when my writing took off.
This was taken in 1968, at St Andrew’s university [Penny’s father was the Sunday Express editor at the time]. When I became a journalist I had to work damn hard to prove myself to anyone who thought that I was only there because of my father.
Left: I read my children Dr Seuss books endlessly and when my son Alex got married he asked me to do a reading from this one. I wasn’t a pushy parent – you have to let children be who they want to be. I have seven grandchildren aged from five months to eight years old. I love them to bits but I’m hot on manners and being polite. Right: This coin was a gift from John Betjeman, who I met through my father when I was a teenager. We had a lovely friendship and he was full of fun. When James and I first lived in London in the early 70s, he’d come to dinner and we’d drive him home in our VW Camper van, which he called ‘the floating drawing room’.
- Penny’s latest book The Duchess: The Untold Story is published by William Collins, price £20. To order a copy for £16 (a 20 per cent discount) until 11 February, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; free P&P on orders over £15