Hutchinson to publish 'extraordinary' diaries of politician Chips Channon

Hutchinson to publish 'extraordinary' diaries of politician Chips Channon

Hutchinson will publish the “elegant, gossipy and bitchy” diaries of Conservative politician and socialite Sir Henry “Chips” Channon in full for the first time, calling them "a major document of twentieth-century British history."

Associate publisher Nigel Wilcockson acquired world rights to the unabridged journals from Georgina Capel at Georgina Capel Associates on behalf of the Trustees of the Sir Henry Channon diaries and papers. The first volume covering 1918 to 1938 will be published in hardback, e-book and audio on 10th September 2020, and edited by Professor Simon Heffer. A further two volumes will be released in 2021 and 2022.

A "heavily redacted" one-volume edition was published by Phoenix in 1967, nine years after Channon’s death. Channon’s trustees have now authorised the publication of the complete diaries which cover the abdication of his close friend Edward VIII, his encounters with Winston Churchill and a pre-war visit to Germany for the Berlin Olympics.

The synopsis reads: “His career was unremarkable. His diaries are quite the opposite. Elegant, gossipy and bitchy by turns, they are the unfettered observations of a man who went everywhere and who knew everybody. Whether describing the antics of London society in the interwar years, or the growing scandal surrounding his close friends Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson during the abdication crisis, or the mood in the House of Commons the day war was declared, his sense of drama and his eye for the telling detail are unmatched. These are diaries that bring a whole epoch vividly to life."

Wilcockson said: “Dinner with Marcel Proust and Jean Cocteau in Paris at the end of the First World War. A visit to Reichsmarschall Göring’s house during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A snatched conversation in the Commons with Winston Churchill during the Munich crisis. Chips Channon may never have been centre stage, but he was always in the front row, and his diaries are an extraordinary record of an extraordinary period.”

Heffer added: ‘In their heavily redacted form Chips Channon’s diaries were often described as the leading such document of the twentieth century. That judgment is even sounder when one reads the complete manuscript. They will be of the greatest value to historians of the period, because they shed additional light on episodes about which we thought we knew everything. And they paint the most vivid picture imaginable of high society in perhaps its most decadent phase. The only difficulty for the editor is deciding what can possibly be left out."

Channon was born in Chicago in 1897 but settled in England after the Great War, married into the wealthy Guinness family. He served as Conservative MP for Southend-on-Sea from 1935 until his death in 1958.