The help and contributions from Lady Fortescue's relatives, Transworld Publishing, Society of Authors, and visitors to the site is much appreciated.
Synopsis of all her books.
Help to find copies of your missing editions.
Scan or photograph a dust wrapper and e-mail it to the site to have it included on the book page. There are still some missing editions.
Please sign the guest book or just have a look at what other people have left.
Photo's of people & places of interest connected with Winifred.
View the whole site contents, over 100 pages, listed at a glance and go directly to a particular page by clicking on the hyperlinks.
Enter a word or words to search the whole site.
Traditional Provencal Recipe.
Links to related sites of interest.
THE DOMAINE WEB SITE
Click here to visit the site. Garden, art & visits.
Click here to see the slide show of The Domaine garden.
SOME MORE INTERESTING BOOKS ON SOUTHERN FRANCE
Escape to Provence
by Maureen Emerson.
Two Vagabonds in Languedoc
by Jan & Cora Gordon.
The Good Straight Englishwoman by Amanda Davies.
Americans And The Making Of The Riviera
by Michael Nelson.
Queen Victoria and the Discovery of The Riviera
by Michael Nelson.
The French Riviera - A History
by Michael Nelson.
The French Riviera A Literary Guide For Travellers
by Ted Jones.
The Olive Farm Series by Carol Drinkwater
A Fete to
Last Chance in
Dog Trots Globe
and a very warm welcome!
The web site is 23 years old this year!
Thank you for visiting the site which has developed from a love of Lady Winifred Fortescue's books, France, and in particular, Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes. In 1935 a book called Perfume from Provence was published which instantly became a best seller, rocketing its gentle, charming author almost overnight to fame and success. At the height of their popularity, in the 1930's to1950's, her books, 7 in all, sold many thousands of copies making Winifred Fortescue a best selling author. Concerned that interest in her books and her amazing life might fade with the passage of time, it was a delight to find that when Black Swan re-published 4 of the books in paperback in the 1990's they became best sellers once again. Perfume from Provence was serialized for BBC Radio 4 and released on a BBC audio cassette tape. The reader was the well known British actress Stephanie Cole.
Winifred Fortescue was a woman ahead of her time who, faced with various forms of adversity, would turn her hand to anything, make a go of it and generally succeed - usually but not always with a touch of laughter. I hope the web site will help to keep her work alive and allow you to enjoy some of the locations and personalities that Winifred knew and, in addition, introduce new generations to the delights of Perfume from Provence and learn about the woman behind it.
The Provence that Winifred & John Fortescue moved to in the 1930's has changed almost beyond recognition. Her view down the mountain from 'Sunset House' now reveals a golf course resort, out of town shopping centre and many developments and roads although Opio village is largely unchanged. Grasse & Cannes have grown considerably and Nice, of course, is a very busy cosmopolitan city and resort. That said, many of the buildings in the books remain including the 'Domaine' and 'Sunset House', both in private ownership. Please browse through the pages, there are currently over 100. More photographs of locations that feature in her books will be added from time to time.
Comments, contributions, photographs, information & suggestions are welcomed. Please do use the visitors book or send an email via the email link. Early editions of Winifred Fortescue's books in hardback, and even some of the later paperback versions are becoming harder to find. Please email if you are looking for a particular book.
Winifred in later life with spaniel 'Gamine'
Winifred Fortescue was born in a Suffolk rectory on 7th February 1888, the third child of a country rector and connected, on her mother's side, to the Fighting Battyes of India. When she was seventeen - in order to ease the strain on family finances - she decided to try to earn her own living and went on the stage, performing in Sir Herbert Tree's* company, and later starring in Jerome K. Jerome's The Passing of the Third Floor Back.
In 1914 she married John Fortescue, King George V's Librarian and Archivist and famous historian of the British Army. The marriage, in spite of a huge disparity of age between them, (some 28yrs), was a uniquely happy one, and although Winifred Fortescue gave up her career on the stage, she later began a successful interior decorating and dress designing business until illness forced her to close it down. It was at that point that she began writing, for Punch, the Daily Chronicle, the Evening News, finally inaugurating and editing a Woman's Page for the Morning Post.
*(Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree founded RADA in 1904 and was the grandfather of actor Oliver Reed).
Some of the editions of Winifred Fortescue's 7 books
In the early 1930's John and Winifred Fortescue, now Sir John and Lady Fortescue, moved to Provence. They sought in Provence an elegance of life they could neither aspire to nor afford in England. After John’s death Peggy became famous publishing her best-seller of the 1930s, Perfume from Provence, and its sequel, Sunset House. These were followed over the years by five other autobiographical books.
Her autobiography, There's Rosemary, There's Rue, was first published in 1939, finally, after Sir John's death, Lady Fortescue wrote the full story of her life and most particularly of her meeting and marriage with John Fortescue. It is a fascinating nostalgic recreation of another era, of her excitement as an actress before WWI, of her meeting with the man she was to marry, and of their home together in Windsor Castle during the reign of King George V and Queen Mary. Many famous names of the time drift across the pages which are warm, witty and a delight.
Trampled Lilies continues her story including her escape from France and the Nazi's during WW II. Her three further books are Mountain Madness, Beauty for Ashes and Laughter in Provence. These cover the period back in England until WWII ended, memories of holidays in the Alps and the the return to her home in France to resume life in the sunshine after the war.
Winifred Fortescue died in Opio, Provence, in April 1951. A fuller biography can be found on the Lady Fortescue page.
The Promenade des Anglais, Nice, in its heyday - note the pier
- The Scotch Tea House, Nice. Many followers will know that Winifred's housekeeping help at Many Waters in Sussex, during the war years, had previously been the manager of these famous tea rooms. Sadly, the tea rooms closed around November 2019 and has not re-opened.
- The heat in the south is finally reducing now September has arrived. Nearly 40c is too much even for the Riviera and one can completely understand why Winifred and Elisabeth used to leave their homes in the summer and head for the Merje glacier!
The Meije, similar to the photo on the cover of 'Mountain Madness' and that on p.37.
The first wooden chalet they stayed in is just visible as a light patch in the trees! More Info.
- Out of 9 days in May spent 'cat sitting' for our family at their home near Nice, it rained for 8 of them and the wood burner had to be lit! Avid viewers might have seen some of the rainy days at the Cannes Film Festival but at least it was back to normal for the Monaco Grand Prix. Not much use for the pool and the low cloud was like a fog but the poppies seem to like it! Global Warming? but that's supposed to make things drier, or is it?!
Wood burner, low cloud and poppies in May this year!
From Jan Adriaan Zwarteveen, 4th May 2023 - Today the victims of the Second world war are commemorated in the Netherlands. Out of respect for their role in the Second World War, we have burned a candle on the two graves of Winfred Fortescue and Elisabeth Star. Just as Winfred once lit a candle on Elisabeth's grave and watched it light up long from her house, as a sort of salute.
A lovely tribute, thank you for doing this and sharing it with us - Webmaster.
The candle burns on the graves at Opio
- The 9th April 2023 was the 72nd anniversary of Winifred Fortescue's death.
- Welcome to another year! A number of old Winifred Fortescue books are available at present plus a few 'new' copies of the 2009 paper back edition of Perfume from Provence at £6.50 each including p&p in the U.K. Email for more details.
Life in Winifred's Provence rolls on and so far 2022 has seen a serious lack of rain, early fires in the hills and even hosepipe restrictions. Covid restrictions are virtually all gone now, although Covid is still out there of course. Travel to the area is permitted once again.
The 9th April 2022 was the 71st anniversary of Winifred Fortescue's death.
A few new copies of the 2009 edition of Perfume from Provence are available at £6.50 each including p&p in the U.K. Email for details.
A good selection of Winifred's early editions are available at present. Email for details.
Steam in Provence! Once again the 'Train des Pignes', which once had a line that ran through Lady Fortecue's olive groves, will be operating steam trains on the section between Puget-Théniers an Entrevaux on Sundays and some weekdays from May to November 2022. For full details of times and special trains click here.
Carpets of Spring flowers come through in March
Plants and Mimosa growing in the garden in January
- "The Elfin Oak". Followers of Lady Fortescue will probably know the story of the Elfin Oak and how it arrived in Kensington Gardens - full details at this link. The oak, made and designed by Ivor Innes from an ancient oak, was a gift of Lady Fortescue in response to the Lansbury Appeal. The tree, originally from Richmond Park, is a hollow log which Innes was instructed to carve to look as though gnomes and small animals were living in the bark. Following its move to Kensington Gardens in 1928 Innes spent two years working on the carvings.
It was restored in 1951 and again in the mid 1960's by Spike Milligan, the comedian. In 1996/7 Milligan led a successful campaign to raise money to have it restored again. In 1997 it was listed Grade II. The oak is now in good condition and protected by a metal cage with a roof. It is located In Kensington Gardens next to the cafe and Princess Diana Children's Play Area, a few yards from the gate on Bayswater Road and close to Queensway Tube Station.
On Sunday the 7th November 2021 at 4pm and again at 8pm, BBC Radio 4 Extra is broadcasting a play in which David Threlfall stars as Spike Milligan in a comic fantasy by Ian Billings - “Spike and the Elfin Oak”. It's unlikely that Lady Fortescue will get a mention but it might be of interest. The broadcast can also be heard now at BBC Sounds at this link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b09z4fys
In the Spring of 1951 Winifred had visitors from the Castello, (Elisabeth Starr's old home), and on March 4th, Palm Sunday she wrote a farewell to them as they left. A photograph of 'Sunset House' with hand written caption, has recently come to light. Perhaps it was sent to them as a souvenir of sorts before or after their visit. It is dated Easter 1951, shortly before Winifred died in the April. The photo is on the 'Winifred Fortescue' page, click here.
- 'Escape to Provence' by Maureen Emerson - this super book, which reveals the true story of the lives of Winifred Fortescue & Elisabeth Starr, is currently out of print. However, a Kindle e-book version is available from Amazon UK priced at just £4.80. The Kindle version does not contain the many photos that appear in the printed version but you can see these at www.rivieradreaming.co.uk. I cannot recommend this book by Maureen highly enough!
As a result of a conservation management plan, Philip Master of ACTA has very kindly made available some information about the valley in Sussex where Winifred's war time home, 'Many Waters', was once located. In addition, more photos and some details about Stonehurst House have also been added. Click here.
The grave next to Winifred's, in Opio Cemetery, is that of one Peter Carew. It bears the inscription 'Remember Peter Carew of Devon'. To discover more about Peter & Joyce Carew, and 'Dusty Pages', follow this link.
- The National Portrait Gallery in London holds 3 wonderful studio photographs of Winifred Fortescue, aged 32 yrs, taken by Bassano on the 20th Augsut 1920. Copies are now available to view on the website with a link to the full size NPG originals. Click here.
- In 2020 a visitor to the site bought a copy of one of Winifred's book via the internet. Click here to discover more about this lucky purchase!
Artichoke, Iris and Lavender growing in the garden in April
- Margaret Smith has done consideable family history research into Pat Allingham, whose grave is close to Winifred's and Elisabeth's in the cemetery at Opio. Full details are available at this link.
- Another milestone, this website is 20 years old this year and still going strong!
- Steam in Provence! Once again the 'Train des Pignes', which once had a line that ran through Lady Fortecue's olive groves, will be operating steam trains on the section between Puget-Théniers an Entrevaux on Sundays and some weekdays from July to November 2021 with Covid-19 restrictions. For full details of times and special trains click here.
WF and her faithful spaniel
- The 9th April 2021 was the 70th anniversary of Winifred Fortescue's death.
- A few new copies of Perfume from Provence (2009) are available at £6.50 each including p&p UK.
- The 'Contact Form' and 'Visitors Book' are now working again!
Good selection of old Winifred Fortescue books available for purchase.
Sadly, the holiday apartment in the Port of Nice is not available in 2021.
Photos of this years Mimosa blooms, the days are already warming up and Spring flowers are blooming in February!
Photos Vicki Riley Gilli - Paillos, A.M.
'Escape to Provence' by Maureen Emerson - this super book, which documents the true story of the lives of Winifred Fortescue & Elisabeth Starr, is currently out of print. However a Kindle e-book version is available from Amazon UK priced at just £4.80. The Kindle version does not contain the many photos that appear in the printed version but you can see these at www.rivieradreaming.co.uk
Maureen's latest book, 'Riviera Dreaming' is also available from Amazon in both printed and Kindle e-book formats priced at £20.00 and £15.29 respectively.
Although not a great deal appears to be happening on the website of late, rest assured that it is still fully active. In due course, I am hoping to put together a new version using much more up to date software. It's not the work of a moment as there are over 100 pages to re-build!
Sadly, the holiday apartment in the Port of Nice is not available in 2020. A long lease was accepted at the start of the Covid-19 lock down. The restrictions in France would have made holidays and changeovers impossible.
A good selection of Winifred's books are available at the moment including a complete set of all 7 early edition hardbacks in reasonable condition, £65 post free in the UK. Use the 'Contact' link if you are are book hunting!
- Steam in Provence! Once again the 'Train des Pignes', which once had a line that ran through Lady Fortecue's olive groves, will be operating steam trains on the section between Puget-Théniers an Entrevaux on Sundays from July 2020 with Covid-19 restrictions. For full details of times and special trains click here.
- I have been fortunate in obtaining not one but two 'Cintra' items produced by Winifred Fortescue in the heady days of her fashion business. They are both jewellery boxes, one red and the other a soft grey, and the grey one actually contains an original piece of jewellery. It has been examined and is a bar with 3 pearls, the bar is actually copper base metal with a silver finish and dates from the 1920's or 30's. A classic piece of costume jewellery that she would have been producing for her clients in London. Below are photos of these two great finds.
Cintra jewellery boxes and jewellery
Mariela Pez Miana from Spain is a regular visitor to the website and back in 2017, dare I say!, brought to my attention a small collection of letters written by Winifred Fortescue that are held in an archive in the U.S.A. The letters and two small cards were written between 1936 and 1941 and are all to the same person, a Mistress Frances Hubbert of the Redwood Library, Newport, Rhode Island. The subject is primarily connected with Winifred's attempt to get her books published in the U.S.A. and it is apparent from the contents that Mistress Hubbert was a great help and support. (The impending WWII is also mentioned). I am extremely grateful to the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A.'Frances Hubbert Papers' for allowing these wonderful letters to be reproduced and displayed on the web site. Click here to view a pdf version in date order.
Steam in Provence! Once again the 'Train des Pignes', which once had a line that ran through Lady Fortecue's olive groves, will be operating steam trains on the section between Puget-Théniers an Entrevaux on Sundays in 2019. For full details of times and special trains click here.
'Train des Pignes'
A frequent visitor to the website over the years has decided to part with her collection of all seven Lady Winifred Fortescue books. They are all hardback editions in varying condition from various years, some with dust jackets. Although they are still out there it is getting harder to find hard backs these days. Contact the webmaster using the contact form at the bottom of the page if you would like more details.
Mariela Pez Miana, from southern Spain, has kindly created memorials at 'Find a Grave' for Winifred's parents and little sister Mildred. She has linked them to Winifred's memorial. Follow this link here to view.
After a long wait, a piece of costume jewellery made by 'Cintra', the company created by Winifred Fortecue in the 1930's, has come into the Webmasters possession. Once a jeweller friend has had a good look at it a photo will be posted. This is the first item actually bearing the 'Cintra' name that we have ever seen!
Remember our apartment near the port in Nice is available for holidays and well placed for exploring Fortescue country. Details here.
After an enforced break the webmaster is now back and able to pick up where he left off! New updates to come soon!
I hope you enjoy browsing the pages, there are now over 100!
Remember to bookmark the site and come back often.
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