Making Conversation

Rachel Billington’s preface to Making Conversation by Christine Longford

A few months ago I sat in the archive room in Tullynally Castle, County Westmeath, Ireland and read the letters my aunt, Christine Trew wrote to her future husband, Edward Longford, the 6th Earl of Longford.

It was 1923. During the university terms, they were both in Oxford, Christine, two years older than Edward, had already taken her degree in Greats, he was just setting out on his. During the holidays he was often at Pakenham Hall (now called Tullynally Castle). He had inherited a title, large estates and land, mostly in Ireland, when his father was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. She was Christine Trew, whose mother lost her husband first on his departure from home when his daughter was three and finally when he, a navy man, was drowned in World War One.

A father dying in the Great War was the least of the bonds between Christine and Edward.

In the archive room, a large airy chamber, originally the nursery, the lovers’ letters are bundled up in separate stacks, all written before they were married, since afterwards they never spent a day apart.

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