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MS 676

Reference code

MS 676


Lady Diana Cooper collection



Administrative / Biographical history

Cooper, Diana (1892-1986)

Lady Diana Cooper was a social figure in London and Paris, and part of a celebrated group of intellectuals known as the Coterie. She wrote three volumes of memoirs, which reveal much about early 20th-century upper-class life and is remembered as a notable beauty of her day.

Her biological father was the writer Henry Cust, however she was legally the youngest daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland and his wife, Violet Lindsay. She had a number of prominent suitors and her parents had hoped she would marry Edward, the then Prince of Wales (and future Edward VIII). However in 1919 she married Duff Cooper. In 1929 she gave birth to their only child, John Julius (known as John Julius Norwich). She would support Duff throughout his life, assisting him in his career and travelling with him during his posting to the Far East during the Second World War.

During the First World War, she worked as a nurse, and subsequently became editor of the magazine ‘Femina’; a columnist for the Beaverbrook newspaper; and an actress. She played the Madonna in the revival of ‘The Miracle’ to high acclaim, as well as appearing in a number of films.

She continued to move in influential circles throughout her life, and could count as friends Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson among many others.

When Duff Cooper became the British Ambassador to France, she became a social celebrity in Paris as well.

She died in 1986, aged 93.



Extent & medium

24 boxes

Content description

Consisting mainly of autograph letters written to her, the papers are of interest due to their reflections on upper-class life and the circles in which she moved. The letters and cards are mainly addressed to Diana Cooper, with a few addressed to Duff Cooper.

The main body of her incoming correspondence are from various friends and acquaintances and range from individual letters to larger bundled from those she corresponded with regularly. This includes a box of letters from members of the royal family, which were kept separately from the rest of the correspondence.


The papers passed from Diana Cooper to her son John Julius Norwich, who decided to sell the papers.

Associated material

Additional correspondence relating to Diana Cooper and Patrick Shaw-Stewart is held by the British Library, ref no.: Add MS 70704-70720

Conditions of access and use area

This collection contains items that are restricted until 2048. These have been identified at box level.

Finding aids

Eton College Library holds a fully catalogued list of the autograph letters via the internal autograph letters catalogue, which can be consulted upon request.

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