Lady Annabel Goldsmith

Lady Annabel Goldsmith

Lady Annabel Goldsmith (born 11 June 1934) is an English socialite and the eponym for a celebrated London nightclub of the late 20th century, Annabel's.cite news |last=Langley |first=William |title=First lady of the night |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2007-06-10 |accessdate=2007-10-28] She was first married for two decades to entrepreneur Mark Birley, the creator of Annabel's, which she helped make a glamorous success as her husband's inaugural members-only Mayfair club. Known in London as a society hostess, during the 1960s and the 1970s, she gained notoriety in gossip columns for her extramarital affair with Anglo-French financier Sir James Goldsmith, who later became her second husband. A descendant and heiress of the Londonderry family, her primary occupation has been as a mother of six children whose births span 25 years. She is also an author and founder of the Democracy Movement, a Eurosceptic pressure group. Her son Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park.

= Background and

The second of three children, Lady Annabel was born in London as Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart to the 8th Marquess of Londonderry and Romaine Combe, who was the daughter of Major Boyce Combe from a middle-class family in Surrey. Her mother died of cancer in 1951, but the illness was kept a secret by her parents. She later said, "Cancer was such a taboo then - Mummy didn't even tell her sisters."cite news |last=Berridge |first=Vanessa |title= Portrait of a Lady |publisher="The Lady" |url= |date= |accessdate=2007-10-28] Subsequently, her father became a chronic alcoholic and died from liver failure at 52 on 17 October 1955. "My father was a really wonderful man but after my mother died, we couldn't talk to him as we had done before. He couldn't face life without her and he turned into Jekyll and Hyde almost overnight," she explained.cite news |last= |first= |title= My glittering life |publisher=Newsquest Media Group Newspapers |url= |date=2004-03-24 |accessdate=2008-06-23]

She was named after her mother's favourite song, "Miss Annabel Lee", and grew up as a country child at her family's former estates of Mount Stewart, Wynyard Park, and the Londonderry House. She was educated at Southover Manor School in Sussex and Cuffy's Tutorial College in Oxford. Awkward and shy, in her youth, she was an avid reader, equestrian, and a Girl Guide for the Bullfinch Patrol. She transformed from an unconfident and self-described "skinny, gauche young girl" into a socialite during the 1950s and 1960s. As part of the London social circle, she is known for her sense of humour, down-to-earth personality, and love of children and dogs. Though never a drinker, she chain smoked until the age of 40.


Lady Annabel is the mother of Rupert, Robin and India Jane Birley plus Jemima, Zac and Ben Goldsmith. She has referred to herself as "an incredible mother, rather a good mistress, but not a very good wife". With six children and five miscarriages,cite news |last=Bridgstock |first= Graham |title= I'm a better mother than a wife |publisher="The Evening Standard" |url= |date=1995-10-03 |accessdate=2008-06-23] her primary vocation was motherhood, which prompted her to say: "I'm not judgmental about women who work, but I was so besotted with my children I never wanted them out of my sight."cite news |last=Gerard |first=Jasper |title=Many lives of Mistress Goldsmith |publisher="The Times" |url= |date=2006-09-10 |accessdate=2008-06-23] She was also considered a mother figure by her nieces, Ladies Cosima and Sophia Vane-Tempest-Stewart, and the late Princess Diana. As the wife and ex-wife of two unfaithful men, she explained her marriage philosophy to the "Times" in 1987: "I can never understand the wives who really mind, the wives who set such store by fidelity. How extraordinary, and how mad they are. Because, surely, if the man goes out and he comes back, it's not actually doing any harm."cite news |last=Attallah |first=Naim |title=Sex is not a four-letter word - Women Talking |publisher="The Times" |url= |date=1987-10-09 |accessdate=2008-06-22]

Annabel's and the Birleys

On 10 March 1954, at the age of 19, she married businessman Mark Birley at the Caxton Hall register office in London. Birley famously paid tribute to her by naming in her honour his renowned nightclub, Annabel's, which opened on 4 June 1963 and was run by Birley for more than forty years. During the 1960s, Lady Annabel was a constant presence at Annabel's, known as one of the grandest nightclubs of the sixties and seventies, where she entertained guests ranging from Ted and Robert F. Kennedy to Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Richard Nixon, and Muhammad Ali. "I used to be there every night, even when I had three small children to take to school the next day. It was like a second home to me," she recalled.cite news |last=Farmer |first=Ben |title= Mark Birley's death fails to halt Annabel's feud |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2007-08-28 |accessdate=2007-10-08]

She raised her three children with Birley at Pelham cottage. Her eldest son Rupert, who was born on 20 August 1955, studied at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1986, he disappeared off the coast of Togo in West Africa,cite news |last=Krushelnycky |first= Askold |title= Birley joins search for son in Togo |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=1986-06-22 |accessdate=2008-06-20] where he was presumed drowned.cite news |last=Scott |first=Caroline |title=Best of Times, Worst of Times: Lady Annabel Goldsmith |publisher= "The Sunday Times" |url= |date= 2004-09-19 |accessdate=2008-07-03] "There really is nothing worse than losing a child - and there is something special about your first-born," she said, adding that, "Because I was so young when Rupert was born ... we were more like good friends than mother and son." Her second son Robin (b. 19 February 1958) is a businessman, whose face was disfigured as a child when he was mauled by a tigress at John Aspinall's private zoo. Having let him go near the pregnant tigress, Lady Annabel said, "It was my own fault. I was, am, angry with myself." Her first daughter India Jane (b. 14 January 1961), the granddaughter of society portrait painter Sir Oswald Birley, is an artist.

The Birleys separated in 1972 and later divorced in 1975 after the birth of her second child with James Goldsmith.cite web |last=Lundy |first=Darryl |title=Person Page 20305:Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart | |url= |accessdate=2007-09-28] "Our breakup was because of Mark's infidelities, not because I fell in love with Jimmy," she told "Vanity Fair" writer Maureen Orth after Birley's death. Revealing that Birley had numerous other girlfriends from the beginning of their relationship,cite news |last=Cavendish |first=Lucy |title=Trials, tragedies and loves of a matriarch |publisher="The Evening Standard" |url= |date=2003-09-05 |accessdate=2007-10-08] she added: "I think he was absolutely incapable of being faithful. He was a serial adulterer. Like a butterfly, he had to seduce every woman.cite news |first=Maureen |last=Orth |title=Hurly Birley |id=ISSN|07338899 |url= |publisher= "Vanity Fair" |page=152 |date=2008-02-01 |accessdate=2008-06-25] Despite their divorce, the two remained best friends and soulmates, talking to each other everyday and holidaying together until Birley's death in August 2007.cite news |last=|first= |title=Mark Birley |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2007-08-27 |accessdate=2007-10-08] Birley referred to them as "the true loves of each other's lives".

Goldsmith affair and remarriage

In 1964, she embarked on a decade-long extramarital affair with the entrepreneur Sir James Goldsmith. Attracted by his flashiness, she said, she was "Mad about Jimmy. Loved Mark desperately."cite news |last= Wansell |first=Geoffrey |title=Jimmy, me and his mistresses |publisher="Daily Mail" |url= |date=2000-11-04 |accessdate=2007-10-08] Though both she and Goldsmith, who was then married to his second wife Ginette Lery, believed that the affair would be a passing fling, it soon gained her notoriety in London's gossip columns as a modern British mistress. For years, she repeatedly refused Goldsmith's suggestion of starting a family, stating, "I didn't want to hurt Mark any more than I had." She was eventually coaxed into having his children by their mutual friend John Aspinall, an estranged former friend of Mark Birley who introduced her to Goldsmith.cite book | last = Aitken | first = Jonathan | year = 2006 | title = Heroes and Contemporaries | publisher = Continuum Books | location = London | id = ISBN 0-826-47833-6]

While still legally married to Birley, she gave birth to Jemima (b. 30 January 1974) and Zac Goldsmith (b. 20 January 1975), who is the husband of writer Sheherazade Ventura-Bentley. Her last child Ben Goldsmith was born on 28 October 1980 at 46, after two consecutive miscarriages. The children were raised in Ormeley Lodge in Ham, London. The half-Jewish and half-Catholic Goldsmith was an occasional presence in their lives as he divided time between three families.cite news |last=Ibrahim |first=Youssef |title= Sir James Goldsmith, Financier, Dies at 64 |publisher="The New York Times" |url= |date=1997-07-20 |accessdate=2007-10-08] cite news |last=Fenton |first=Ben |title=International family mourns Goldsmith |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=1997-07-21 |accessdate=2007-10-08] In 1978, Goldsmith and Lady Annabel married solely to legitimize their children.cite book | last = Goldsmith | first = Annabel | year = 2004 | title = Annabel: An Unconventional Life | publisher = Weidenfeld & Nicolson | location = London | id = ] "We didn't marry as a great act of passion. More to make sure that the children's name would be Goldsmith when they went to school," she explained.cite news |last= Wansell |first=Geoffrey |title=Golden Lady |publisher="Daily Mail" |url= |date=2004-06-11 |accessdate=2008-06-20]

Goldsmith moved to New York with his new mistress Laure Boulay, Comtesse de la Meurthe in 1981 and spent the last years of his life mostly in France and Mexico. He became known for quoting Sacha Guitry's words, "If you marry your mistress you create a job vacancy." Often wrongly credited with the quote, Goldsmith admitted, "I quoted him at dinner, and it was pinned on me. I don't mind. ... I just don't want to claim what's not mine."cite news |last= Riddell |first=Mary |title=Interview with James Goldsmith |publisher="The Mirror" |url= |date=1997-03-07 |accessdate=2008-06-18] On his infidelities, Lady Annabel revealed that, despite her aversion to any form of confrontation, "I did feel jealous. I used to scream at him." In 1997, she and her youngest three children inherited a portion of Goldsmith's wealth, estimated varyingly at £1.6cite news |last=Alderson |first=Andrew |title=Even in death Goldsmith calls the tune. |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=1997-07-27 |accessdate=2008-06-22] or between $1.7-$2.4cite news |last=Moore |first= Miles |title=Goodyear raider Goldsmith, 64, dies |publisher="Rubber and Plastics" |url= |date=1997-07-28 |accessdate=2008-06-20] billion.


She resides in Ormeley Lodge, a six-acre Georgian mansion on the edge of Richmond Park, with two Grand Basset Griffon Vendeens, Daisy and Lily,cite news |last= |first= |title= We're so in love: Annabel and the gang |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=2005-01-09 |accessdate=2008-06-24] and three Norfolk terriers, Barney, Boris and Bindy.cite news |last=Flanagan |first= Julian |title=My perfect weekend |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2006-09-23 |accessdate=2008-06-20] In 2003, she remarked on her children's varied marital patterns by observing, "All my children with James marry young and breed, and my children with Mark do the opposite." She has nine grandchildren, including Robin Birley's illegitimate daughter Maud. She spends part of each year at her 250-acre organic farm in the hills above Marbellacite news |last=Goldsmith |first=Annabel |title=What Jimmy taught me about the importance of the pound |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2001-05-30 |accessdate=2008-06-22] and has a 1930s holiday home by the seaside in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.cite news |last=Kay |first=Richard |title=Annabel does like to be beside the seaside |publisher="The Daily Mail" |url= |date=2006-02-15 |accessdate=2008-06-23] cite news |last=Praagh |first=Anna |title=Greetings from the new British seaside |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2008-05-11 |accessdate=2008-06-24] Asked about her regrets in life, in 2004, she confessed wishing that she had, instead of marrying twice, been "a one-man woman".cite episode | title =Annabel, an unconventional Life |url= | series =Breakfast with Frost |network=BBC |credits= Interviewer: David Frost | airdate =2004-03-14 ] "I wouldn't recommend anyone to do what I've done. To marry someone and grow old with them must be much better," she said.

Activism and philanthropy

Lady Annabel is president of the Richmond Park branch of The Royal Society of St George, a patriotic outreach society aimed to motivate youth.cite web |last= |first= |title=Richmond Park |publisher=The Royal Society of St George |url= |date= |accessdate=2008-06-20] She is a donor and supporter of the Countryside Alliance,cite news |last=Carr-Brown |first=Jonathon |title=Aristocrats and tycoons bankroll foxhunt lobby |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=2004-09-19 |accessdate=2008-06-23] an environmental charity called The Soil Association, and African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP), which works to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa.cite web |last= |first= |title=Donors |publisher=African Solutions to African Problems |url= |date= |accessdate=2008-06-20] As an animal lover, she is also one of the patrons of the Dogs Trustcite web |last= |first= |title=Annual Review 2005: Going the extra mile |publisher=Dogs Trust |url= |date= |accessdate=2008-06-20] and a supporter of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home,cite news |last=Muir |first= Kate |title= Today we have come to the place where Annabel first met many friends: Battersea Dogs Home |publisher="The Times" |url= |date=2004-03-20 |accessdate=2008-06-20] along with being Vice President of the British Show Pony Society.cite web |last= |first= |title=Officers and Council officers |publisher= British Show Pony Society |url= |date= |accessdate=2008-07-03] She had early interest in journalism but had to decline a low-level position at the "Daily Mail" at age 19 to get married instead. She has since contributed opinion editorials to national newspapers such as the "Sunday Times", the " Daily Telegraph" and "Sunday Telegraph",cite news |last=Goldsmith |first= Annabel |title=I will miss her smile |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=1997-09-03 |accessdate=2008-06-20] among others.cite news |last=Goldsmith |first= Annabel |title=Jimmy's dying wish was to give Blair a chance on Europe |publisher="The Mail on Sunday" |url= |date=2000-12-30 |accessdate=2008-06-20] cite news |last=Goldsmith |first= Annabel |title=Diana shouted: I've done my ironing... now can I do yours? |publisher="The Mirror" |url= |date=1997-09-04 |accessdate=2008-06-20]

Inspired by Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy's radio address during the Hungarian Revolution, in November 1956, she and Mark Birley volunteered with the Save the Children organization in Vienna. She organized charitable donations and traveled daily to look after refugees who crossed the Austrian border into the frontier town of Andau. In May 1997, she campaigned with her second husband in Putney, the constituency unsuccessfully contested by Goldsmith for his Referendum Party.cite news |last=Payne |first=Stewart |title=Lesser-spotted Goldsmith pays Putney a flying visit |publisher="The Evening Standard" |url= |date=1997-04-24 |accessdate=2008-06-20] She continued to support her husband's ideas, like the single currency referendum, after his death as part of the Referendum Movement, which was headed by Paul Sykes and Lord McAlpine and of which she became honorary President.cite news |last=Goldsmith |first= Annabel |title= Jimmy's legacy: a last chance to save Britain |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=1997-12-14 |accessdate=2008-06-20] cite news |last=Shrimsley |first= Robert |title= Businessman gives £20m to fight euro |publisher="The Telegraph" |url= |date=1998-09-25 |accessdate=2008-07-03]

In January 1999, she launched the Democracy Movement, of which she was President and her son Robin was chairman until 2004.cite news |last=Young |first=Robin |title=Goldsmith widow takes his mantle |publisher="The Times" |url= |date=2001-01-13 |accessdate=2008-06-21] Starting from 12 January 2001, the organization launched a £500,000 advertising and leafleting campaign to expose the parliamentary votes of pro-Brussels candidates in 120 "target" seats before the May general elections.cite news |last=|first= |title=Goldsmith widow targets Europhiles |publisher=BBC |url= |date=2001-01-13 |accessdate=2008-06-21] The Democracy Movement released two million pamphlets carrying gloom-ridden headlines about a European state and published full page local newspaper advertisements in the constituencies of 70 Labour MPs, 35 Liberal Democrats, six Conservatives and three Scottish National Party candidates.cite news |last=Nuki |first=Paul |title=Goldsmiths launch election blitz against pro-euro MPs |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=2001-03-18 |accessdate=2008-06-23] Describing the campaign as an effort "in memory of Jimmy", she said:

On 17 December 2007, she testified at the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, where she refuted the perception that the princess was in love with and/or pregnant by Dodi Al Fayed.cite news |last=Siddique |first= Haroon |title=Diana needed marriage to Dodi 'like a rash' |publisher="The Guardian" |url= |date=2007-12-17 |accessdate=2008-06-20] cite news |last=|first= |title='No suggestion' of Diana murder |publisher=BBC |url= |date=2007-12-17 |accessdate=2008-06-20] "She was in love with Hasnat Khan. I felt she was still on the rebound from Hasnat Khan... She might have been having a wonderful time with him, I’m sure, but I thought her remark that she needed marriage like a rash meant that she was not serious about it," Lady Annabel told the jury.cite news |last=Rayner |first= Gordon |title=Diana: 'I need Dodi marriage like a rash' |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url='I-need-Dodi-marriage-like-a-rash'.html |date=2007-12-17 |accessdate=2008-06-20] She also participated in a demonstration outside Downing Street in November 2007 to protest President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan.cite news |last=Lewis |first= Jason |title=Jemima Khan joins Pakistan protest - and mum Lady Annabel lends a hand |publisher="The Mail on Sunday" |url= |date=2007-11-11 |accessdate=2008-06-23]



David Chapman, reviewing the book for the Newsquest Media Group Newspapers, concluded, "This is a decidedly funny memoir that includes the scrapes and japes of nob culture."cite news |last=|first= |title=The highs and lows of nob culture |publisher="Worcesternews" |url= |date=2004-04-09 |accessdate=2007-10-08] Lorne Jackson of the "Sunday Mercury" was totally dismissive of what she called "a dull memoir", stating: "This could have all been explained in one page, possibly two if the type was particularly large."cite news |last=Jackson |first=Lorne |title=Lady has little to reveal |publisher="Sunday Mercury" |url= |date=2005-01-09 |accessdate=2007-10-08] "The Sunday Times" commented that, "Annabel comes across as a decent woman ... but her writing is flat, with a few too many clumsy constructions, and her story lacks drama, even when terrible things happen to her."cite news |last=Silvester |first=Christopher |title=Review: Memoir: Annabel by Annabel Goldsmith |publisher="The Sunday Times" |url= |date=2004-03-14 |accessdate=2008-06-24] Biographer Selena Hastings called it "a well-ordered, decently written book,"cite news |last=Hastings |first=Selena |title= Dominant men, dogs and disasters |publisher= "The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date= 2004-03-22 |accessdate=2008-07-03] while the "Evening Standard" wrote, "Goldsmith herself comes across as fun and warm, a good sport, if sometimes strangely submissive and a little overfond of her own breasts."cite news |last=|first= |title=Annabel: An unconventional life |publisher="The Evening Standard" |url= |date=2005-01-10 |accessdate=2008-06-23] "Annabel" became a No.1 London bestseller for non-fiction.cite news |last=|first= |title=London's Best Sellers |publisher="The Evening Standard" |url= |date=2004-04-05 |accessdate=2008-06-23] Nationally, the memoirs reached the top ten non-fiction bestsellers in England, fluctuating from No. 7 to No. 4cite news |last=|first= |title=Books: Bestsellers |publisher="The Independent" |url= |date=2004-04-02 |accessdate=2007-10-08] and then No. 6.cite news |last=|first= |title=Books: Bestsellers |publisher="The Independent" |url= |date=2004-04-09 |accessdate=2008-06-23] cite web |last= |first= |title=Lady Annabel Goldsmith |publisher=Little, Brown Book Group |url= |date=1997-07-21 |accessdate=2007-10-08]

She followed her autobiography, two years later in September 2006, by ghost-writing her pet Copper's autobiography in the name of "Copper: A Dog's Life". Her daughter India Jane illustrated the book. Copper was originally bought by the Goldsmiths as a reward to their daughter Jemima for passing her Common Entrance Examination, but he remained in Lady Annabel's care for most of his life and had an adventurous time in Richmond. "Amid tough competition, he was probably the greatest character I ever knew," she told "The Daily Telegraph".cite news |last= |first= |title=Copper-bottomed |publisher="The Daily Telegraph" |url= |date=2004-04-06 |accessdate=2007-10-08] The mongrel, who died in 1998, was famed for traveling by bus, chasing joggers and visiting a Richmond pub, the Dysart Arms. Upon the release of the book, Lady Annabel declared, "My late husband and Copper had a lot in common," and then elaborated that, "Jimmy was not at all a doggy person, yet he was intrigued by Copper. I think he recognised that same free spirit in him. They certainly both had an eye for the ladies!"cite news |last=Middlehurst |first=Lester |title=My husband and my dog had a lot in common, says Lady Annabel Goldsmith |publisher="Daily Mail" |url= |date=2006-09-14 |accessdate=2007-10-08]

Her literary efforts originated after the experience, according to her, of a life-defining moment on 29 December 2000. She, her son Benjamin, daughter Jemima and her two sons, plus her niece Lady Cosima Somerset and her two children were traveling to Kenya, when a passenger on their British Airways plane stormed into the cockpit and tried to seize the controls.cite news |last=|first= |title=BA jet plunges in cockpit struggle |publisher=BBC |url= |date=2000-12-29 |accessdate=2007-10-08] The flight to Nairobi became temporarily disengaged and the jumbo was knocked off course, abruptly diving and plunging 17, 000 feet below. "Nobody on that plane thought, 'am I going to die?'" she later recalled. "They all thought, 'we are going to die'. It was horrible, horrible." This near-death incident has been credited by Lady Annabel as the catalyst for her writings. "I had always thought that I would write a book," she claimed, "but writing my memoirs didn't really come into my head until after that flight." In the introduction to "Annabel", she wrote: cquote|Shortly after the accident, with an awareness of how close my children and their children came to being denied their future, an understanding of the fragility of my own hold on life and a profound appreciation for my own past, I decided to write this book. Her third book, "A Memoir", is set for a UK release on 10 September 2009.cite web |last= |first= |title=A Memoir | |url= |date=|accessdate=2008-06-20] To be published once again by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, according to a promotional blurb, the book is comprised of "intimate and perceptive essays [and] pen-portraits of some of the extraordinary figures that entered the Birley and Goldsmith circles - among them, Lord Lambton, Patrick Plunket, John Aspinall, Geoffrey Keating, Lord Lucan, Dominic Elwes and Claus von Bulow."cite web |last= |first= |title=A Memoir (Hardcover) | |url= |date= |accessdate=2008-06-20]


*cite book | last = | first = | year = 2004 | title = Annabel: An Unconventional Life: The Memoirs of Lady Annabel Goldsmith | publisher = Weidenfeld & Nicolson | location = London | id = ISBN 0-297-82966-1
*cite book | last = | first = | year = 2006 | title = Copper: A Dog's Life | others = illus. India Jane Birley | publisher = Time Warner | location = London | id = ISBN 0-316-73204-4
*cite book | last = | first = | year = 2009 | title = A Memoir | publisher = Weidenfeld & Nicolson | location = London | id = ISBN 0-297-85451-8


External links

* [ Woman's Hour: Leading Women interview] , audio appearance during promotional tour for "Annabel"
* [ The Peerage: Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart] , family background
* [ Democracy Movement] , a non-party and anti-EU pressure group founded by Lady Annabel

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