The first volume of these diaries, chronicling 1918 to 1938, is over a thousand pages long and leaves the impression that Chips Channon was rather ridiculous. Whether or not he knew it, he was busy inventing an identity and he did it with such misplaced self-importance that he became a figure of fun, more laughable than anything else. The second volume of the diaries is also more than a thousand pages long, and there is a third volume to come, no doubt just as hefty. But the more you read of Chips, the less likeable he becomes.

In the first place, consider his personal life. In 1933 he married Lady Honor Guinness, whose parents, Lord and Lady Iveagh, were among the richest people in the country. Guinness money paid for Chips’s social climbing, “my long harlot-esque life,” as he put it. “Axis” is the odd euphemistic shorthand that Chips uses for a sexual a


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