The celebrated writer guides us round the bookmarked pages of her life online.

When it comes to literary heritage, few come with the pedigree of acclaimed author Juliet Nicolson. The daughter of writer and publisher Nigel Nicolson, she grew up, impossibly romantically, at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, amidst the legendary gardens cultivated by her grandmother, the novelist, diarist, poet and one-time lover of Virginia Woolf: Vita Sackville-West. With a quintet of tomes under her belt – a memoir, a novel and three histories – the latter genre prompted Tina Brown, the author and former editor of Vanity Fair, to write of Juliet that she had ‘invented a new kind of social history.’

In demonstration of this, her latest is Frostquake: The Frozen Winter of 1962 and How Britain Emerged a Different Country (Chatto & Windus), the story of how, in 1962, it began to snow on Boxing Day and did not cease for the ensuing ten weeks. So deep was the snowfall that Stone Henge was submerged, while, across the country, people either dug out their skis, or improvised.

The book tells Juliet’s story, as she – just eight years old at the time – moved back and forth between Chelsea and Sissinghurst, the latter then very recently bequeathed to her parents. And yet it also contextualises the wider story of a pivotal moment in the country’s history, as Britain emerged from the deep freeze ready to shake off the formalities of a bygone age, and to thaw out some of its lingering Victorian attitudes. From Profumo to the advent of the pill, Frostquake documents a country on the brink of change in both vibrant and personal detail.

Here Juliet tells how Pathé’s archive has been invaluable to her over lockdown; whose Twitter account makes her roar with laughter; and why lunch is for eating, not fodder for social media.

My favourite website...


AbeBooks. It’s packed with book-lovers’ treasures and it’s especially amazing for out-of-print books that you would otherwise search for a lifetime to find.

My favourite app...


It used to be Googlemaps though that’s currently less essential for obvious reasons. Now it is rather predictably WhatsApp for pictures, movies and jokes.

My Internet heroes...


Greta Thurnberg and Netflix.



My favourite podcast...


Adam Buxton. Emily Maitlis’s Americast. Poetry Unbound. Dan Snow’s History Hit.

My most recent buy online...


Jumbo box of fizzy Vitamin C.

Last book you downloaded or read...


I don’t read books that way but the last paper book I read was a proof of Esther Freud’s fabulous new novel, I Couldn't Love You More, coming out in May.

Favourite tweeter...


India Knight of the Times. Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC. Will Hislop for making me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Favourite Instagrammer...


Arthur Parkinson for his amazing films and gorgeous photographs of his garden and wonderful readings from favourite books. Justine Picardie for her uplifting stories from Suffolk and amazing recipes. Clover Stroud for her blazing and often moving honesty. Julia Samuel for her invaluably wise posts.

Favourite tech gadget...


A deliciously slick scarlet Wonderboom given to me by my son-in-law.

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...


My phone tripod.

Most useful digital resource during lockdown...


My son-in-law.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...


Pathé fims archive. Every single frame throws up some riveting piece of insight into the way things once were.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...


The weather, so I know what is going on both in Rome and also on the other side of Sussex where my two daughters live.

Last thing you binge-watched...


I Hate Suzie with Leia Farzad and Billie Piper: sensational, absolutely compulsive viewing. Oh, and I must say Call My Agent…as most of the rest of the world would probably say too.

Favourite brands have you discovered online...


La Veste. Alex Gore Browne. What Mother Made.

Social media allowed me to meet...


I’m more into friends IRL.

The best digital advice I've been given...


Get a tripod.

My screensaver is...


My grandchildren.

My standout online memory...


Using Skype when my daughter lived in Sri Lanka.

My pet online hate is...


Pictures being posted of lunch halfway through eating it.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?


To delete the Zara app.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?


Such a grey area but actually in terms of research it has been invaluable in lockdown while libraries are shut. And, of course, Zoom for friends is a salvation.

By Nancy Alsop
March 2021

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Clover Stroud
Caroline Young
Evie Wyld

Nancy Alsop

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