“Some of the catty remarks (which fascinate) MUST be cut.” These were the express wishes of Lady Honor Guinness, the then ex-wife of Sir Chips Channon, who never allowed the editor of his diaries to see the original manuscripts. But even after careful censorship by Guinness as well as from Peter Coates, Channon’s friend, lover, and literary executor, the gossipy diaries, which took aim at British high society and its royal family, caused a stir when they were published in 1967. This week, Channon, who died in 1958, is in the papers again, owing to the publication of the first in three volumes of those same diaries. This time, though, they are unredacted.
The British journalist and historian Simon Heffer was tasked with editing a complete edition of the diaries—including a collection of lost volumes from the 1950s that were returned to Channon’s family in a plastic bag after having been mysteriously purchased at a yard sale—by Channon’s grandchildren. Sixty years after the American-born British socialite’s death, says Nicky Dunne, they could be “sure that everybody he talks about is dead.”