The most intimate portrait of Peter Cook to date, Cook's first wife writes of her life with Britain's most ingenious and innovative comedian, and offering a side of him few have ever seen.
To his many fans, Peter Cook was quite simply the funniest man they never met. Over a decade since his untimely death, his reputation as one of Britain's greatest comics shows no sign of shrinking.
Wendy Cook was a teenage art student when she first met the handsome Cambridge undergraduate in the early Sixties. They married soon after and together founded the Establishment clubs in London and New York, and financed the satirical magazine Private Eye. Wendy bore Peter his only children and they lived together during the most explosive time in Peter's amazing career. But the price of this stratospheric rise was high.
'I felt eventually I had to go my own way rather than stay with somebody who was that nihilistic. Alcohol stokes up the demons and a completely different person starts to emerge. He did know how to behave well, but it rotted into something else. At a certain point I thought, "This will be the end of me if I don't leave now."'
Finally Wendy took her daughters to Majorca to live on a farm and the couple eventually divorced a few years later in 1971.
Putting aside 30 years of discretion about her life with the comedian, Wendy decided to break her long silence to set down her memories. Comprised of personal anecdote, musings of intimate friends, from Alan Bennett to Jonathan Miller to Paul McCartney, and exclusive photography.
A fashion entrepreneur in the early Sixties, Wendy met Peter Cook while studying graphic design in Cambridge and they became engaged during the Edinburgh Festival run of Beyond the Fringe in 1960. Married in New York three years later, with Dudley Moore playing the organ, Wendy became a renowned hostess among a wide circle of talent in Manhattan and later at the couple's Hampstead home. She is the mother of Cook's two daughters and developed a pioneering interest in macrobiotic cookery in the search to improve the health of her younger child.