Ida and Louise Cook were destined never to marry after decimation of the men of their generation in World War One. When Ida became a successful Mills and Boon novelist they used their earnings to indulge their love of opera, travelling all over the world but especially to Salzburg. Familiarity with Austria enabled these two eccentric opera loving sisters to undertake dangerous undercover missions in the 1930s rescuing Jewish musicians and others from the Nazis. This talk will explore the world of Opera in the 1920s and 30s - the clothes, music, celebrities, and the signed photographs coveted by fans. It will also show how Opera transformed the lives not just of these two sisters but of at least 29 families they saved. In 2010 the Government posthumously created the Cook sisters British Heroes of the Holocaust.
Biographer, historian and author of eleven books who lectures to a variety of audiences in the US and UK, a former Reuters foreign correspondent, Anne is now a broadcaster - she presented a BBC Radio 3 documentary about the pianist Harriet Cohen and for Radio 4 the documentary Who was Joyce Hatto? She regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies including Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson, her most recently published book is a history of Paris between 1939-49 through women's eyes as Les Parisiennes How the women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s. Anne is a former chair of Britain's 9,000 strong Society of Authors.