Requiem for Mignon

While looking at a volume of Elgar's letters in 2012 I found a press cutting inserted behind the cover which set me off on what might well be a wild goose chase. The story started with a suggestion that a woman who once worked for the art historian Sir Kenneth Clark might have been Elgar's mistress and that her daughter was Elgar's daughter.

Elgar was a complex character. He might have had secrets. I have no proof that this rumour has any truth in it. It's unprovable either way (which is quite odd as my article explains) but this really isn't a story about Elgar. It's a quest for an intriguing mother and daughter, and it happens, by chance, to touch on other people and other worlds I am fascinated by.  My article on Lord Berners gives more background to the story, particularly of the period during which Mrs Nelson worked for Berners.

(Since this was written a lot of information has come to light about "Mrs Nelson" the cook.Nelson was a nom de plume. It now appears that Mignon was not her natural  daughter but was unofficially adopted as  a companion to her real daughter, Phyllis. This changes nothing of Mignon's story  but means that her true origins may never be known. It does, though, explain the inconsistencies in Sir Kenneth Clark's story. Only one of "Mrs Nelson's" current family had heard of Mignon and only as the friend of Phyllis. )

For the full story of Mignon see the links below the video.
There is an introduction to the mystery in Ismene Brown's blog for the Spectator here.

PDF Copies of "Requiem for Mignon" and any other articles on this website can supplied on request to me at

Mignon images