Peter Stothard at the Times Literary Supplement:
Antonia Fraser has been a force in literary and political London for more than half a century – from her first biography, of Mary Queen of Scots in 1969, through studies of Charles II, Oliver Cromwell and Marie Antoinette, the autobiography of her life with Harold Pinter, her passionate histories of lost English Catholicism and early women’s rights, and her crime novels in the spaces in between. My History is her “memoir of growing up”, an early life which she portrays as itself a piece of history. A celebrant of characters from the distant past, she summons here a universe of hardly less lost worlds, in politics, religion and what until recently was known as society.
She begins with a deceptively simple epigraph from the autobiography of the Whig historian, G. M. Trevelyan:
“the poetry of history lies in the miraculous fact that once on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing after another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone like ghosts at cockcrow”.