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Eileen Ascroft was born in 1914 in Reading. first husband was celebrated film-maker, Alexander Mackendrick and they had one son. She spent a lifetime in journalism including a period at the Daily Mirror where she met her second husband, Hugh Cudlipp. They married in 1945. In her book about Cudlipp, Newspapermen, Ruth Dudley Edwards describes Eileen as 'blonde, talented and ambitious'. After being sacked from the MIrror for using the Director's office door as a dartboard during a party she went on to start the women's page at the Evening Standard and she and Hugh became the most powerful couple on Fleet Street. In 1959 she gave up her career as a regular writer in the press to assume responsibility for the promotion and control of the large magazine empire of the Mirror Group.

Interestingly, for a successful journalist carving out a glittering career for herself in a traditionally masculine industry Eileen's book, The Magic Key to Charm, is a tutorial in all the traditional feminine virtues. Her obituary in the Times also stated that 'Another side of her talents was seen as navigator of her husband's motor-cruiser in Cross-Channel expeditions. She could also pilot an aeroplane, having learnt to do so in an idle spell in Australia.' The Magic Key to Charm was published in 1938 and was made up of a collection of her immensely popular columns in the Mirror, 'Charm School'. Tragically, in 1962, Eileen Ascroft died of an overdose of sleeping pills.

The Magic Key to Charm Eileen Ascroft

A lost gem discovered in the archives, The Magic Key to Charm is both a nostalgic, beautifully written read and also contains much timelessly useful information ranging from beauty and fashion tips and advice on entertaining, to how to run for the bus gracefully and how to decorate your house to best suit your complexion.

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