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The Papers of Lady Diana Cooper, Viscountess Norwich

Reference Code: GBR/0014/DIAC

Scope and Contents

Includes: correspondence, particularly with Conrad Russell, Windham Baldwin and Lady Diana's son John Julius, mainly written by Lady Diana in diary form; detailed travel diaries, often consisting of copies of letters to Russell and to John Julius; literary material, mainly relating to Lady Diana's autobiography; some photographs of Lady Diana.


  • Creation: 1900 - 1986


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Lady Diana Manners was born in 1892, youngest daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland and the beautiful and artistic Duchess of Rutland, Violet Lindsay. As a young woman, and famous beauty herself, Lady Diana was one of the leaders of a society group known as "the Coterie", but during the First World War devoted her energies to working as a nurse at Guy's Hospital, also trying her hand at journalism, as editor of the magazine Femina and as a popular columnist.

In June 1919, despite opposition from her family, who had hoped for a loftier match, she married Alfred Duff Cooper [later 1st Lord Norwich], one of the few male members of the Coterie to have survived the war. The marriage was to be a long and happy one, despite Duff's frequent infidelities, and the couple had a son, John Julius, in 1929. In 1923, Lady Diana embarked on a limited, but lucrative, theatrical career, starring as the Madonna in Max Reinhardt's play "The Miracle". She was to tour with "The Miracle" off and on for the next 12 years, in Britain, Europe and the United States, and the money from this enabled Duff to leave his job at the Foreign Office and embark on a political career.

As Duff rose through the political ranks, Lady Diana went with him, adding glamour to his election campaigns and accompanying him on his various postings, including long voyages aboard the Admiralty yacht Enchantress in 1938-39, when Duff was First Lord of the Admiralty, his lecture tour of the United States on the outbreak of the Second World War, his stint in Singapore as Resident Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Far Eastern affairs in 1941, and his posting to Algiers in 1943-44 as the British representative to the French Committee of National Liberation. Most famously, she ran the British Embassy in Paris when Duff became Ambassador to France in 1944, queen of a brilliant group of actors, artists and writers, called "La Bande", not unlike "the Coterie" of 30 years before.

The Coopers did not leave Paris when Duff's term as Ambassador ended in 1948, but simply moved to Chantilly (which cannot have made life easy for their successors). Duff died in 1954; Lady Diana was heartbroken, but felt that in a way it was almost a relief - always a hypochondriac, she had worried for years about Duff's health, and what would happen when he died. She busied herself with writing her autobiography from 1958 to 1960, in three volumes, ''The Rainbow Comes and Goes,'' ''The Light of Common Day'' and ''Trumpets From the Steep'', and remained a much-loved friend and figure in society until her death on 16 June 1986.


44 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



Although in the previous main accession of Duff Cooper's papers (DUFC), Lady Diana's papers were kept with his, when this new accession was received, it was clear that the two archives had been kept distinct, so for this accession only this arrangement has been maintained. Lady Diana's other papers have been left in DUFC, as they have been extensively used as part of this archive.

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and copies of the catalogue are available for consultation in the reading room at Churchill Archives Centre, at the National Register of Archives in London and on the Janus website.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Lord Norwich in 2012 and 2016, along with further papers of Duff Cooper.

Related Materials

See also the papers of Duff Cooper, GBR 0014/DUFC, where other papers relating to Lady Diana are held.


This catalogue description was prepared by Katharine Thomson of Churchill Archives Centre in 2013, using information obtained from the papers themselves.


Cooper, Lady Diana Olivia Winifred Maud, 1892-1986, née Manners, wife of 1st Viscount Norwich

2013-05-15 10:44:42.867000+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
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