Diary of a Provincial Lady

E. M. Delafield

Illustrated by Nicolas Bentley

The witty fictional journal originally written for Time and Tide magazine, collected together in what Jilly Cooper describes as her favourite book.


In the late 1920s, E. M. Delafield, already a successful novelist, was asked to write something for Time and Tide magazine. The result was a comic delight that has remained in print ever since. Diary of a Provincial Lady recounts the trials and tribulations of an upper-middle-class housewife ‘of the class so frequently referred to as “leisured”’ – though the narrator would plead that her life is no such thing. Hers is a hectic round of persuading austere cooks to reconsider their resignations; enduring the insufferable Lady Boxe; evading the bank manager; collecting ‘Curious Beaks’ for her son Robin; and trying – with desperate kindness – to bid farewell to guests, from her eccentric schoolmate Cissie Crabbe to Our Vicar’s Wife, who never leaves: ‘At eleven Our Vicar’s Wife gets as far as the hall door. There we talk about forthcoming village concert, parrot disease and the bishop of the diocese …’

Production Details

Bound in cloth printed with a design by the artist
Set in Bell
176 pages
16 line drawings
Coloured page tops
8¾" × 4¾"

A subtle yet deliberate talent

In her introduction, Jilly Cooper praises the sheer joy of this, her favourite book, and its deceptive simplicity that conceals considerable art: ‘Here is a very subtle and deliberate talent at work, naturally satirical, with a marvellous ear for dialogue and an unerringly accurate social sense.’ This Folio edition, in a pleasingly portable Narrow Demy format, contains charming line illustrations by the cartoonist Nicolas Bentley, who shared the author’s sense of humour. As Jilly Cooper writes, ‘One likes to think in some afterlife, they are still having a gentle laugh together at all our extravagances.’