I got hold of a copy of Susan Tweedsmuir's The Edwardian Lady after Tim Pears mentioned it in his acknowledgements in The Wanderers and said it had proved useful, (and I can see which passages in his novel were directly influenced by it).
It's a series of recollections and observations on life - as Lady Tweedsmuir knew it - in the Edwardian era, and is a concise, eloquent, affectionate picture of that "unselfconscious" age.
I should imagine the author was an excellent person to know. On the page she comes across as kind, thoughtful, appreciative, conscientious, modest, and with an interest in people, books, and ideas which speaks of a lively mind and an engaging personality.
Published in 1966, this is a very personal look back from fifty years on at various aspects of Edwardian life and people. For example, the chapter titled The Edwardian Lady's Books, from which I quoted yesterday, goes on to discuss popular works of the day, many of them now unread, but just to show how fashions come and go, here's what she says about one author: "A writer whom I do not hear mentioned now but whose prose style I greatly admired, was Elizabeth von Arnim ..." - who among us has not read at least The Enchanted April?
Touching on the Edwardian kitchen (she mentions Lady Jekyll - see this post and this), the Edwardian Lady and her Garden (Constance Lady Wenlock's gardening outfit shown here rather says it all), she speaks with great fondness of Edwardian Scotland. Marrying into the Buchan family, she came to know well the small town of Peebles, not far from us here in Edinburgh, and was struck by the loveliness of the surrounding country, "the brisker air of the north", and the relative intimacy of life in a close-knit community.
Shopping in Peebles was a far cry from visiting the London emporia to which she was used. "Mrs. McGillivray, the greengrocer, on being asked what fruit she had in that day, would answer cheerfully, 'Nothing startling in the pear line'." Mr. Veitch sold fishing tackle, Miss Smith kept the sweetie shop, and at Mr. Goudburn's the baker, "every kind of delicious 'tea bread' was to be found." If you've read Priorsford by O. Douglas (the pen name of Anna Buchan, Susan Tweedsmuir's sister-in-law), you'll be familiar with the place.
"I am sitting in my room at the falling close of a winter's day with the sky outside my window turning a faint rose colour, which puts me into the right mood for recollecting the past," says the author at the beginning of this book. Her memories are here most charmingly collected.