Joyce Grenfell

Joyce Grenfell (1910-1979) was one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers: a writer and performer of songs and monologues on stage and radio when it was unusual for an upper-class woman to work at all.Joyce revealed little about her private life in her two autobiographies, and after her death her image was fiercely guarded by her husband and friends, so that she was remembered as unnaturally perfect. This biography shows her human failings as well as her humour, kindness and generosity.

Janie Hampton explores Joyce’s intense relationship with her brother and her mother; her childlessness; her love affair with Prince Aly Khan; her mixed feelings about the theatre; her acts of philanthropy and her faith in Christian Science which enabled her to endure the pain of cancer without medical treatment. The result is an affectionate portrait of a unique, complex and lovable person.


“Hampton has produced a winner. She writes with attractive redolence of that period and circumstances.” — Daily Telegraph

“This delightful biography, written as freshly as one of Grenfell’s lightest monologues.” — The Catholic Herald

“A proper biography was overdue and the gap has now been admirably filled by Janie Hampton.” — Reading Evening Post

“Janie Hampton’s biography reveals a complex character and gets under the skin of Grenfell. Far from ‘warts and all’ – there seems to have been very few warts – it does reveal the human frailties of a great entertainer.” — Manchester Evening News

“Fortunately it [writing this biography] has fallen into the hands of Janie Hampton to write what is, without question, the definitive biography. The result is an absorbing and fascinating insight into the very private life of a very public person. Janie Hampton has brilliantly opened up whole incidents.” — Ham & High Express

“This is undoubtedly the definitive life of Grenfell.” — Literary Review

“Janie Hampton’s painstaking and comprehensive biography makes clear, there was far more to Joyce than the public persona.” — Church Times

“This book tells the story of her life as uncovered by careful research, warts and all.” — Oxford Times

“Like her subject, Hampton is well organised, with an excellent eye for detail.” — Sunday Times

“Using Joyce’s journals and her extensive output of letters, this is an extremely well-written and detailed account which reveals the real and wonderful Joyce.” — This England