logo-cropped

Nottingham’s independent bookshop | 14a Long Row, Nottingham NG1 2DH | 0115 8373097

A Late Beginner

Napier, Priscilla
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly
Published: February 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781906562458

£12.00

With a new preface by Penelope Lively

Priscilla Napier grew up in Egypt during the last golden years of the Edwardian Age – a time when, for her parents’ generation, it seemed the sun would never set upon ‘the regimental band playing selections from HMS Pinafore under the banyan tree’.

In A Late Beginner Priscilla Napier recalls that childhood and those last fleeting years of the British Protectorate. Her father, Sir William Hayter, a clever, hard-working man with enlightened views, was legal and financial advisor to the Egyptian Government. Her brother William would later become British Ambassador in Moscow, her sister Alethea a distinguished writer, and Priscilla herself would marry and lose her husband in the Second World War. But here she is a high-spirited little girl, William a knickerbockered schoolboy and Alethea a muslin-clad toddler.

Priscilla brings vividly to life that far-off world – the house and its devoted Egyptian servants, the desert picnics with Nanny, the visits to Cairo Zoo, the afternoons spent rampaging with other children in the grounds of the Gezira Sporting Club. And the long summers in England when Lady Hayter took the children to join her sisters and their families in Sidmouth – a different scene altogether, especially as the First World War began to take its tragic toll of uncles and cousins.

Priscilla Napier was a born writer, and A Late Beginner is a wonderful evocation not only of a place, a time and a climate of mind, but also of the child’s eye view. It ranks, says Penelope Lively in her introduction, ‘quite simply with the greatest accounts of how it is to be a child’.

Postage is calculated at 10% of your order value, up to a maximum of £3.00. There is a free postage option at checkout if you are housebound/shielding, on low income, or need help with postage costs for any other reason.  Your order will usually arrive within 2-3 working days. Delivery prices and times to other countries may vary (prices calculated at checkout).

Due to recent Covid updates and international shipping recommendations, we are temporarily suspending mail order to mainland Europe, Canada and Turkey. Other overseas countries, please email before ordering.