Hungerford Book Shop at the Bear Hotel – talk and book-signing. 7.30, Tuesday November 25th 2014
Posted on: 18-11-2014 | Category: Events

The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me: Sofka Zinovieff – talk and book signing on Nov 25th

Tuesday November 25th 7.30pm in The Bear Hotel (Riverside Suite), Hungerford.

Bear Hotel, Charnham Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0EL
Telephone: 01488 682512 Email:

Tickets £5. Bar available.


mad boy



Faringdon House in Oxfordshire was the home of Lord Berners, composer, writer, painter, friend of Stravinsky and Gertrude Stein, a man renowned for his eccentricity – masks, practical jokes, a flock of multi-coloured doves – and his homosexuality. Before the war he made Faringdon an aesthete’s paradise, where exquisite food was served to many of the great minds, beauties and wits of the day. Since the early thirties his companion there was Robert Heber-Percy, twenty-eight years his junior, wildly physical, unscholarly, a hothead who rode naked through the grounds, loved cocktails and nightclubs, and was known to all as the Mad Boy.

If the two men made an unlikely couple, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, the addition to the household in 1942 of a pregnant Jennifer Fry, a high society girl known to be ‘fast’, as Robert’s wife was simply astounding. After Victoria was born the marriage soon foundered (Jennifer later married Alan Ross). Berners died in 1950, leaving Robert in charge of Faringdon, aided by a ferocious Austrian housekeeper who strove to keep the same culinary standards in a more austere age.

This was the world Sofka Zinovieff, Victoria’s daughter, a typical child of the sixties, first encountered at the age of seventeen. Eight years later, to her astonishment, Robert told her he was leaving her Faringdon House. Her book about Faringdon and its people is marvellously witty and full of insight, bringing to life a vanished world and the almost fantastical people who lived in it.

Sofka will be talking about her book, follwed by questions from the audience and a book signing. Please call 01488 683480 to book or pop into the bookshop.