Emotional ties

By Anne Sebba, Mail on Sunday, December 2011

Emotional ties with historian Anne, 59, lives in London with her husband, Net-a-Porter CEO Mark, and youngest daughter Imogen. Here she shares her treasures and inspirations. Please read the full article here.

I inherited this engraved silver cup from my Aunt Irene, who died in the flu epidemic in 1918, aged 12. It was passed to me and I’ll pass it to my daughter Amy. Although I never met Aunt Irene, my father’s life was so affected by his older sister’s death at such a young age that I always felt as if I did.

After university at King’s College London, I worked as a journalist for Reuters news agency in Rome – this was my foreign press card. It was an extraordinary time – I lived by myself in a tiny apartment near the Trevi fountain and often worked the night shift in the Reuters office. My days were spent dashing around the city finding stories.

I bought this jug and dish set from Villa d’Este near Rome. I was 21 and living abroad on my own for the first time. I felt so grown up buying it. I’d arrived in Italy with very few possessions; I’ll always treasure this as a reminder of such an exciting time in my life.

This picture of my three children, Adam, now 33, Imogen, now 18, and Amy, now 31, was taken in 1993. There’s a big age gap between Imogen and the older two, so it’s almost as if she has two sets of parents, which she loves.

Mark gave me this gold Elsa Peretti necklace from Tiffany to mark the occasion of Amy’s birth in 1980. We were living in New York at the time because of Mark’s work. I hardly ever take it off, and all the children, and now my two grandchildren, have loved playing with it (and chewing on it!) while it’s round my neck.

This is me and Roland Mouret – I’m wearing the full-length gold dress that he designed with Wallis Simpson as his muse. The gold feels so right for Wallis’s glamorous personality, and the high neck references her wedding gown. Roland was inspired by my biography of Wallis – That Woman – to create this limited-edition dress, which he aptly named ‘That Dress’.

When I was ten I caught glandular fever and had to have a year off school. My parents arranged for a tutor to keep me on track with my studies. She gave me these books when I passed my eleven-plus and got into grammar school. I’d loved history and books as a child, but I’d never been particularly academic, so it was a huge surprise to everyone when I passed.

Anne’s latest book That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor is published by Orion, price £20. To order a copy for £16.99 with free p&p, contact the YOU Bookshop on 0843 382 1111,