My interview in The Lady magazine
Good afternoon! Here, in case you missed it, is a little interview for you, from THE LADY magazine…
…is a historian, author, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and presenter for the BBC. She has fronted programmes including The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain, A Very British Romance and co-presented Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Of Dance. She lives in London with her husband.
What are you working on at the moment? An exhibition at Hampton Court Palace called The Empress And The Gardener. It’s a set of drawings of Hampton Court Palace that Catherine the Great of Russia commissioned. They’re on loan from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
When were you at your happiest? When I’m caught up in a really interesting piece of work that’s difficult and challenging.
What is your greatest fear? Heights. I have tried to conquer it because my work as a curator of historic buildings means I often have to climb up scaffolding. Once I went green and had to be carried down over a builder’s shoulder.
What is your earliest memory? Staring at ‘Blue Rab’, my toy rabbit, and wishing really hard that she would come to life.
Dislike about yourself? I’m not the world’s biggest talker, so I have to remember to tell other people what I’m thinking. Especially when I reach a conclusion which seems obvious to me.
Who has been your greatest influence? My mum – she brought me up to work hard and be a good feminist.
What is your most treasured possession? My Blue Rabbit, and her set of little clothes that my mother made for me in the hospital while she was waiting for my little brother to be born.
What trait do you most deplore in others? Selfishness: when people monopolise time, attention, resources, instead of noticing what would make life better for those around them.
What do you most dislike about your appearance? I try to be body-confident rather than body-hating, so I’ll turn the question around if I may, and say that I’m particularly proud of my lovely little ears. They’re quite beautiful.
Favourite book? Jean Plaidy’s ‘The Young Elizabeth’. I have my own copy still, with its picture of Hampton Court Palace on the front. I still can’t quite believe that I have ended up working as a curator at Hampton Court Palace, and following in Plaidy’s footsteps by writing a children’s book of my own set in the Tudor period.
Favourite Film? Brief Encounter – I love the way that Celia Johnson was cast, supposedly, because she looked like an everyday suburban housewife. As if! She’s so elegant.
Favourite piece of music? Any Mozart piano sonata.
Favourite meal? Fish and rice. I really like sushi.
Who would you most like to come to dinner? Michael Buble. A lovely young man.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you? I couldn’t repeat the weird and horrid things people have said to my in cyberspace. I reassure myself that they don’t really mean it, they think I’m a little sock puppet from their TV screen, and that’s who they’re addressing, not me.
Do you believe in aliens? Er, no.
What is your secret vice? Benedick’s Bittermints. For evidence: see bottom drawer of my desk.
Do you write thank you notes? Probably not often enough. But I do like choosing and buying presents for people. I’m very well known in the gift shop at Hampton Court.
Which phrase do you most overuse? ‘Did you know that Henry VIII had a special servant to wipe his bottom?’
What single thing would improve the quality of your life? A promise to cancel the wastefully expensive ‘Garden Bridge’ project in London. Not least because it’s going to ruin my neighbourhood on the South Bank.
Can you tell me one thing people might not know about you? I like running. I trot along quite slowly but I can go a long way. I’ve been told that it’s because I have unusually large nostrils, like a horse. I can take in the air exceptionally well.
What would you like your epitaph to say? ‘She made history fun.’
Eliza Rose, by Lucy Worsley, is published by Bloomsbury Childrens, priced £6.99.