There is much good stuff in The Enigma of Kidson and rather a weepy end, as so often with biographies of mortals.
Here is a good Kidson letter.
To: The Rt. Hon. Mrs Margaret Thatcher, P.C., M.P.
10 Downing Street 3rd October 1987
Dear Prime Minister,
Several years ago I wrote to the Chairman of the Honours Scrutiny Committee to suggest appropriate honours for two distinguished men: and predictably I received from your office only a casual and non-committal reply.
I put forward the names of Mr Michael McCrum, a sometime distinguished head master of Tonbridge and Eton, and Vice-Chancellor elect of the University of Cambridge; and Mr. James Lees-Milne, a much respected biographer, and for thirty years an indispensable senior servant of the National Trust.
Neither man has been recognised. Could your Office be persuaded to explain the esoteric means by which all kinds of less eminent persons are preferred to men of this distinction? The anomalies and shibboleths are very difficult to follow.
I am, Madam, your obedient servant,
I am struck that a misogynist like Michael Kidson did not address his letter to Mrs Denis Thatcher. More importantly, he must have been pleased when Michael McCrum was appointed CBE in 1998. What he never knew was that he got a right and left, so to speak. James Lees-Milne was also given a CBE (New Year Honours, 1993) but refused it, something that would not have occurred to Michael Kidson.
The weepy bits are his 80th birthday dinner at White’s, recollections of final meetings with him and eulogies given at a service of thanksgiving in 2015.
Today is James Lees-Milne’s birthday. He was born on 6th August 1908 at Wickhamford, Worcestershire. He went to Lockers Park, Eton, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he got a Third in History.