Obituary: Frances Donaldson
Wednesday 30 March 1994
The first half of her life was often lonely and difficult. As a child in digs when her father Freddy Lonsdale was making his way as a writer of plays and musical comedies during the First World War, she had only two friends of her own age - Daphne Du Maurier and Leonora (stepdaughter of PG) Wodehouse. She was always her father's favourite daughter; but it was a bitter- sweet relationship. Once when she was chatting to him as he shaved he said: 'Don't keep finishing your sentences - I'm not a bloody fool.'
When her father first struck oil with his play Aren't We All, he made her his companion as he pursued his rake's progress through the social whirl of Noel Coward and Mr Cochrane's Young Ladies.
Then her mother manoeuvred her into a loveless marriage with a rich man 20 years her senior who did not like women. She left him after four empty years and married Jack Donaldson. Four fulfilling years with him were followed by six years' separation as he served abroad right through the war.
Similar experiences scarred, and ultimately wrecked, the lives of her two sisters. They led Frankie to start a new creative life as a farmer and writer. The difficulties of her early life had given her intelligence a hard and penetrating edge as well as a gem-like radiance. Yet she also had a depth of human understanding which rejected any temptation to make moral judgements either of her subjects such as Edward VIII and PG Wodehouse or of her friends such as Evelyn Waugh and Tony Crosland. The same toughness led her to drive herself and Jack in summer weekends some 70 miles each way to their house in Sussex when she was over 80 and suffering from cancer. Her humanity and understanding made it a profound pleasure to be her friend.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...