Acclaimed writer heads to Buxton International Festival to talk about The Beatles and the big freeze

A writer whose book looks back on life in the swinging 60s will be giving a talk at the Buxton International Festival discussing everything from The Beatles to The Big Freeze.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:35 pm
Author Juliet Nicolson is heading to the Buxton International Festival

Britain’s big freeze of 1962 helped change the nation —with even the Duchess of Devonshire turning on and tuning in to the swinging decade, reveals the author of a

fascinating new book which will feature in Buxton International Festival later this month.

Acclaimed writer Juliet Nicolson’s Frostquake tells how the country not only faced temperatures as low as -19 C and snowdrifts eight feet deep, but also the Cuban Missile

Crisis, rejection by the European Economic Community and the realisation that Winston Churchill, that great symbol of British greatness, was dying.

But there was a thaw coming in British society as one of the book’s stories, set in the depths of the winter, tells.

In a drawing room at Chatsworth, the Duchess of Devonshire held up a dinner party for her ball-gowned guests so Henry the butler could wheel out an unusual hors d’oeuvre: a black and white telly tuned into TV talent show Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Famous for being an Elvis Presley fan, the Duchess was keen to show her guests, including historian Lady Antonia Fraser who told the tale to Juliet, her latest discovery: a group of pop hopefuls called The Beatles who had done well on the previous shows.

“As they kicked off with Please Please Me, high heels beneath the long evening dresses began to tap,” said Juliet.

Behind the door to the butler’s pantry, Henry’s shiny shoes also began to tap, a sign, perhaps, that tastes across the social classes were beginning

to converge.

She said: “Antonia said it was the first time she had ever heard of The Beatles. Partly they became famous that winter because people were sat watching the television a lot.”

And a couple of months later in April 1963, The Beatles were on stage at Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens, playing to a few hundred screaming fans. Two years later, they had conquered

America.

Frostquake is packed with reminders of the way we were and what we were about to become.

Juliet will be at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Friday July, 15 4-5pm, tickets £12. To book: www.buxtonfestival.co.uk

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