TV producer beats floods for Kennaway House appearance

TV producer beats floods for Kennaway House appearance

Diana Bowerman
Sidmouth Herald
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
12:00 PM

NO flooded rail line was going to prevent author and television producer Daisy Goodwin from speaking to an eager Sidmouth audience on Friday.

The founder of Silver River Productions hot-footed it across London from Waterloo to Paddington in order to arrive on time for the last in this year’s Meet the Author talks at Kennaway House.

A sell-out audience was there to hear about her debut novel, My Last Duchess, published in 2010 – before Downton Abbey reached the small screen – about Cora Cash, a vastly wealthy American heiress, whose mother is determined to marry her off to aristocracy.

In the 1890s of which the novel is set, there were plenty of titled Englishmen looking for new money to marry to keep their estates going, and soon Cora and Ivo, ninth Duke of Wareham, who meet through a riding accident, are married.

Born in 1961, Daisy, whose long list of credits as a TV editorial director includes Jamie’s Kitchen, Grand Designs and Home Front, got the idea for her first novel after a visit to Woodstock to give a talk about her memoir, Silver River.

At Blenheim Palace she saw a painting of the ninth Duke of Marlborough and his family by John Singer Sargent.

The Duke had a loveless marriage to the hugely wealthy American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, who brought a $100 million dowry with her.

“She was very classy and cultured and was astonished there was no hot water or bathrooms and the kitchen was half-a-mile from the dining room,” said Daisy, who carried out meticulous research for her novel.

“By 1910 over a quarter of the House of Lords had married American money. Stately homes in England would not be here without this money.”

She delighted her audience with tales from her research, and described the agony of trying to wear a Victorian corset that prevented women bending at the waist. Married Victorian women were not as innocent as people thought, with lots of ‘corridor creeping’ going on at night amongst the gentry.

Chairman of the 2010 Orange Prize panel for women’s fiction, Daisy said she liked books “that have a sparkle to them, a good story that is entertaining”.

An option to film her novel, called The American Heiress in the USA, has been taken out and Daisy says her Cora is a stronger woman than the Cora in Downton Abbey.

Her father was a film producer and her mother a journalist, and after gaining a degree in History at Cambridge and studying at Columbia Film School, Daisy began her TV career as an arts producer, making films about literary figures, devising Bookworm and The Nation’s Favourite Poems Initiative.

Married to TV executive Marcus Wilford, she has two daughters and is currently writing her second novel, about the Empress Elizabeth of Austria “the Diana of her day” and plans a sequel to My Last Duchess in the future.

It’s National Poetry Day this Thursday October 4th

Once again the nation will be celebrating the wise, witty and wonderful on National Poetry Day this Thursday October 4th. This year the theme will be ‘stars’. As their website says, “It’s a day for poetry readings, events, competitions, quizzes, exhibitions, commissions, creations, recitations and more, all planned and launched by the poets and poetry lovers of the UK”. There’s a wealth of events and resources to explore and I would like to urge all poetry lovers to get involved. You can find National Poetry Day on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for updates and announcements.

University Challenge…

Daisy Goodwin on University Challenge

Daisy Goodwin on University Challenge

Here is a photo of my appearance on University Challenge – definitely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life! I wrote an article about it for the Sunday Times which you can read here

I gave an interview about library closures to the BBC

Author Daisy Goodwin says library closures a tragedy – view the interview

I discussed the likely future of libraries and their impact on society with Chris White from the Local Government Association. It’s so important for us to support and cherish our local libraries, which are a precious resource to those who do not always have access to books – or computers, or the Internet – at home.

My Last Duchess shortlisted for the Galaxy Book Prize!

I’m thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted for the Galaxy British Book Awards in the Popular Fiction Book of the Year category. I’m listed along with some wonderful writers so it’s great to be among their number. The winners of the 2011 Galaxy National Book Awards will be revealed on Friday 4th November at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. Dara O’Briain is the host for the evening and the event will be staged and filmed by Cactus TV, with a series of six programmes about the awards to be screened between 13th November and 17th December on More4. It’s going to be an exciting day for me….

I’ll be at the Literary lunch in Sevenoaks as part of the Seven Oaks festival this September

Talks & Presentations
St Julians Club, Sevenoaks
Author talk

Churchill’s mother Jennie Jerome and his cousin by marriage Consuelo Vanderbilt both brought American wealth into the British aristocracy; their unhappy marriages inspired well-known TV producer and poetry-lover Daisy Goodwin to write My Last Duchess, a novel about a fictional American heiress named Cora Cash. Daisy will be the guest at this year’s literary lunch, an event which is expected to be an early sellout when tickets go on sale on July 30 at Sevenoaks bookshop.

Tuesday 27th September 2011


St Julians Club
St Julien Road
TN15 0RX



Further information
Tickets are on sale from Saturday 30 July at Sevenoaks Bookshop, 147 High Street, Sevenoaks TN13 1XJ

I will be at the Chiswick Book Festival on the 16th and 17th September

There’s a fantastic line-up of writers including Kate Mosse, Michael Morpurgo and many others and the whole festival is a non-profit-making, community event. The previous two Festivals raised over £11,000 to be divided equally between the three charities below, all related to reading, and the work of St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosted the Festival:

RNIB Talking Books Service and Books for Children:
InterAct Reading Service
The Letterbox Club, part of the Book Trust.

The same charities will benefit from any profits from this year’s Festival.

Find out more about the Chiswick Book Festival

Listen to an extract from the audio book of The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

American Heiress CD

American Heiress CD

Click on the image to listen to an audio clip from Chapter One of The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Kindle: the last chapter for books?

Man Booker prize judge Chris Mullin has turned down the use of a Kindle – but former Orange prize judge Daisy Goodwin thinks he’s a bit of a luddite …

Chris Mullin, the former MP and writer, and one of the judges of this year’s Man Booker prize, has refused to use a Kindle to read the submissions. Daisy Goodwin, the television producer and writer, who loves her e-reader, thinks he’s wrong. Is this next chapter in book publishing a good thing? Emine Saner got the conversation started by asking the black-and-white TV-owning Mullin if he was simply a technophobe . . . Read more of this article in the Guardian

If you’d like me to join your reading group via Skype in March, read on!

Headline are offering copies of the TV Book Club’s Best Read MY LAST DUCHESS for your reading group, and a chance for your group to chat to author Daisy Goodwin.

MY LAST DUCHESS will be the featured book on More 4’s TV Book Club on Sunday 13th March, and author Daisy Goodwin would love to join your reading group via Skype the following Wednesday 16th March. All you’ll need is a computer and internet access, and an author visit is just a touch of a button away…

If you’re interested in taking part on the evening of Wednesday 16th March, email for more details.