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Lady Cynthia Asquith (1887 – March 31, 1960) was an English writer, now known for her ghost stories and diaries. She also wrote novels and edited a number of anthologies, as well as writing for children and on the British Royal family. She was J. M. Barrie's personal secretary in his later years, and inherited the bulk of his estate... except for Peter Pan.
Her father was Hugo Richard Charteris, and her mother Mary Constance Wyndham. She married poet Herbert Asquith in 1910. In 1913 she met D. H. Lawrence in Margate, and became his friend and correspondent.
During World War I, to supplement her husband's income, she took a position as secretary to J. M. Barrie, with whom she became close friends, continuing to work for him until his death in 1937. In some ways, she and her sons Michael and Simon came to replace Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (who had died) and her sons (who had either died or grown up) in Barrie's life. In correspondence on behalf of Barrie, she often used the pen name "C. Greene".
As Barrie lay on his deathbed, Peter Llewelyn Davies – despite his personal dislike for Asquith – phoned her to come. After riding through the night from southwest England to London, she – according to Nico Llewelyn Davies – had the doctor rouse Barrie with a lawyer present, and gave the dying man a revised will to sign... one which left the bulk of his estate – minus the Peter Pan works, which had already been given to Great Ormond Street Hospital – to her, rather than the surviving Davies boys and their families. Peter had to work for a living, and apparently looked forward to an inheritance from Barrie as something he was due for all the grief that Peter Pan had put him through, and he hated Asquith for taking that from him. Nico referred to that phone call as "the Greatest Mistake of [Peter's] Life" (the caps are Nico's).
In 1957 she won the pioneering quiz show on ITV, The 64,000 Question (the prize being 64,000 sixpence, or £1,600). Her questions, on the subject of Jane Austen, included:
- Where did Fanny Price's cousin Edmund Bertram find her crying?
- Mrs. Norris told Lady Bertram that she 'always had a bed for a friend' but in actual fact what did she use the spare room at The White House for?
- What did the gardener give Mrs. Norris after she had promised him a charm to cure his grandson of an ague?
- Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken when she heard of a trip to London he made for what sole purpose?
Ironically, Lady Cynthia Asquith died just 5 days before Peter Davies' suicide in 1960, and their memorial services were held the same day.
- The Ghost Book (1927), editor
- The Black Cap (1928), editor
- Shudders (1929), editor
- When Churchyards Yawn (1931), editor
- My Grimmest Nightmare (1935), editor
- The Spring House (1936), novel
- One Sparkling Wave (1943), novel
- This Mortal Coil (1947), stories
- Haply I May Remember (1950)
- What Dreams May Come? (1951), stories
- The Second Ghost Book (1952), editor
- Portrait of Barrie (1954)
- The Third Ghost Book (1956), editor
- Married to Tolstoy (1960), biography
- Thomas Hardy at Max Gate (1969)
- Wikipedia: Cynthia Asquith