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Adam Shand Kydd
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Birth: Sep. 5, 1954
Death: Apr. 25, 2004

Obituary Independent, The (London), Apr 30, 2004 by Nick Welch

"Adam Shand Kydd was a person of extraordinary talents who perhaps never quite found his place in the world. Tall, striking and humorous, he was immensely affable and a brilliant raconteur, and in some respects that might have been that.

But, first, he was possessed of a prodigious, driving intelligence, a mind that constantly set standards difficult for anyone to match up to. What he was happy to forgive in others, he was perhaps not able to in himself. And, secondly, he was for 21 years the stepbrother of Diana, Princess of Wales, so that his life was played out more in the public eye than he might have wished.

Born in 1954, he was the elder son of Peter and Janet Shand Kydd. When he was 13 his father, a beneficiary of the Shand Kydd wallpaper fortune (they are said to have invented flock wallpaper), became involved in a very public affair with Frances, wife of Johnnie, the eighth Earl Spencer. In 1968 the Shand Kydds divorced; and in 1969 the Spencers divorced and Peter Shand Kydd and Frances Spencer married. Adam was 14, Diana, the Spencers' youngest child, was seven. Though Adam was obviously affected by the family turbulence, he remained on very good terms with both his parents (his father was to divorce Frances in 1990) to the end.

He spent a certain amount of his childhood on his father's sheep farm in Yass, north of Melbourne in Australia. Adam had mixed feelings of his time there, but was much taken by the possum which ate his tuck. The boys at the school he attended used to keep illegal sweets under the floorboards, and on the occasion of some midnight feast Adam lifted the board to find no tuck, only a guilty possum, now so fat that it had become stuck between the joists. The possum's face betrayed, said Adam, an expression of sublime resignation that engaged his sympathy. He replaced the board without comment, and let the creature digest his tuck in peace.

Adam continued his education in England at Stowe, whence he was unjustly expelled, falsely accused of chopping up the chapel organ with an axe. The real culprit came forward at some later stage, but understandably Shand Kydd had by then rather lost interest in formal education. Had his life taken a different path, he might very happily have become an academic.

As it was, he went to work as stage manager for the Open Space Theatre in the Tottenham Court Road in London. Under the direction of Charles Marowitz it was famous in the mid-1970s for its radical productions of Shakespeare, and none more radical than Othello with the stoker. The Open Space shared its basement premises with a boiler room for the building above. The company had become embroiled in a long-running dispute with the boiler man, who was always complaining about theatrical stuff being left in his "back passage". Things came to head during a performance of Othello. Desdemona was dead and Othello was doing his powerful remorse scene when he was joined on stage by the boiler man, who started to complain loudly about all the junk in his back passage. He continued his rant before a transfixed audience as Charles Marowitz hissed at Shand Kydd, "Get him off." "You get him off, he's huge and covered with tattoos," hissed Shand Kydd.

As his love of books increased he became more involved in the literary world. He worked for a while at the publishers Cassell's, proofreading military history, and also embarked on his own book. Happy Trails was published in 1984 and was a pretty good first novel. It got some very good reviews, but too many of them were more interested in his links with the Princess of Wales (Diana had married Prince Charles three years previously) than in the novel itself. Shand Kydd was much hurt by this, feeling that he would never be seen as anything other than Diana's "literary" stepbrother. He struggled with the follow-up but in the end was unable to produce anything he felt happy with.

He had a wide circle of friends gathered from the different stages of his life. Norma Heyman, Thelma Holt, David Schofield and Jonathan Kent came from his days in theatre. During visits to his mother's house in Suffolk he got to know Angus Wilson, Angus McBean and Robert Carrier. From the literary and journalistic world he was close to Alex Shulman, Teddy St Aubyn, Alan Jenkins and Craig Brown, among many others. He was often to be seen with the architect Christopher Bowerbank and the musician Guy Pratt out and about in Notting Hill. He was never happier than when involved in great rolling hilarious conversations with good friends, sitting crouched, his impossibly long legs crossed not once but twice, his arms, also crossed, resting upon them; cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other.

There were many women in Shand Kydd's life, and he was at various times linked with Carinthia West, Angela Gorgas, Vivienne Halban and, more recently, with Sophie Mortimer. He never married but was often in love. Once his flat began mysteriously to fill up with hugely heavy inedible loaves of Polish bread, apparently airlifted in from Warsaw at great expense. Asked why he was buying all this bread which he obviously wasn't eating, he shyly admitted that he had fallen completely in love with the girl behind the counter at the local Polish deli."

Created by: KRW
Record added: Mar 10, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 18337012
Adam Shand Kydd
Added by: KRW
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- Spaulding
 Added: Apr. 29, 2012
You are forever loved. Rest in peace always
- September Blue, Penna USA
 Added: Sep. 21, 2011
Stepbrother to Diana, Princess of Wales. Rest in peace.
 Added: Mar. 10, 2007

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