“On Sunday night, Clarissa Avon – the Countess of Avon, and widow of former prime minister Anthony Eden – ate a chocolate soufflé, drank a glass of champagne, and said goodnight to her devoted carer, Amina,” says Hugo Vickers in The Daily Telegraph. The next morning, she did not wake up. She was 101.
To most people, she seemed forbidding. Her uncle, Winston Churchill, thought she had “a most unusual personality”, Deborah Mitford found her “rather alarming” and Margaret Thatcher called her “colourless”. But around friends, “Clarissa had a wonderfully youthful streak of fun”. As a teenager she sneaked into tutorials at Oxford, hoping no one would notice she wasn’t enrolled. As an adult she befriended Greta Garbo and rejected Evelyn Waugh. And at 56, after her husband died, she travelled the world and took up scuba diving. If she seemed aloof, it was out of choice. “She claimed that she remained silent unless she had something particular she wanted to say.”