Eva Hanbury-Tracy was born in 1869, the eldest child of the 4th Lord Sudeley. She grew up in a vast Gothic-style mansion in Gloucestershire - Toddington Manor, the house having rooms numbered in their hundreds. Her two immediate siblings were boys and she grew up a somewhat lonely child, resorting to creative writing from a young age. She cultivated a wide circle of similar-minded friends - mainly school peers - and began writing seriously at the age of fourteen.
In adult life, she had some success with poems, newspaper columns, short stories, certainly one play and a couple of novels but remained on the outer fringe of major success. She had a special "Den" in her married homes where she would sit and read or write or sometimes, in London, she would go to Cliffords Inn where she had a small personal office. A play was written by Eva Anstruther - "Bon Secours" - 1903 - and it is thought that she wrote a play, "Old Clothes" - which is mentioned in a collectors' item manuscript - a letter written in March, 1904 by Thomas Anstey Guthrie (1856-1934) - better known as the writer, F. Anstey, (Vice Versa). Source: #2295 - Julian Browning Ltd. , Rare Books & Manuscripts, London. 8/2004.
Listed at The British Library, Robert Maxtone Graham - Dame Eva's grandson, reports that the following may be found:-
She married Henry Torrens Anstruther in 1889, recognising in him the potential of a cabinet minister - and she with designs on being the wife of one. This was not to be and she eventually left him, in 1912 and officially, in 1915. During the First World War she was appointed by Sir Edward Ward (who also became her lover) as Director of the Camps Library and was responsible for stocking the libraries for troops on active duty in France, a service for which she later received a D.B.E. - on Ward's recommendation.
For an account of the family - its lifestyle and relationships - click on this image. Clara Taylor was Dame Eva's Lady's Maid between 1907 and 1914 but retained an association with the family long after that. In 1948, she was invited to write her reminiscences of those days in service. Remarkably, a typescript copy of her reflections has survived and is reproduced by kind permission of Robert Maxtone Graham. Clara Taylor writes candidly and clearly about the kind of life she led and about the relationships between Dame Eva and her two children and between Dame Eva and her husband. She was part of the move to Pan's Garden which was a house built by Dame Eva in Hampshire from about 1912 onwards. Clara Taylor even had a hand in helping to decorate the dining room walls! She was later to work alongside Dame Eva in London during the First World War.
During the 1920s, living in London, Dame Eva was known to hold volatile and lengthy dinner parties where she tried to mix opposite poles of the contemporary artistic spectrum. At the same time she became increasingly involved in - and reliant upon - psychic and spiritual movements - the paranormal, Theosophy, Scientology and Natural philosophies - minority but flourishing movements of her era. In 1927, she had horoscopes cast for her new-born grand daughter, Jean, which still exist and which, on hindsight, make for extraordinary reading.
After her death, in 1935, among her books were found some 37 on black magic and 66 on cookery - though she was never known to cook. Also found was a photograph of a personal enemy - her son's Mother-in-Law by his first marriage - with pins stuck in it.
George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland, born in 1786, was the brother of Lord Francis Egerton (né Leveson-Gower), great-great-grandfather of 6th Duke of Sutherland. The Duke was married to Lady Harriet Howard, daughter of the Earl of Carlisle, Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria. His eldest daughter, Lady Elizabeth Georgina (born 1824) was married to George John Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll. Lord George Granville Campbell was his second son. His wife was the target of those pins.