A new Cook book

Peter's first wife breaks her silence

Peter Cook’s first wife Wendy is to publish her memoirs, breaking her 35-year silence over their tempestuous marriage.

So Farewell Then, which will be released in October, is described as ‘the untold life of Peter Cook’ and is said to show a new side to the comic and his alcoholism.

Wendy Snowden was a socialite and teenage art student when she met Cook in the early Sixties. They married in 1963 and she helped found the Establishment club and finance Private Eye.

She bore Peter his only children, two girls, but she says Cook’s alcoholism eventually drove her away. He also had an affair with actress Judy Huxtable, who would become his second wife.

‘I felt eventually I had to go my own way rather than stay with somebody who was that nihilistic,’ she said.

‘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.

Wendy has only very rarely spoken about her former husband. In 2002, she told the BBC One documentary At A Slight Angle to the Universe: ‘He really suffered. Nobody as sensitive as he was could help but suffer. Genius is also torture.’

She said she was driven to write the book because she was angry at how Cook was always portrayed as a bitter, cruel drunk.

‘Everyone else has had their say and it seems to me I do have something different to contribute,’ she said earlier this year. 'We were a good team at the time he was at his most creative.

'I would like to write a book, partly as catharsis for me, but also to correct this false impression.’

So Farewell Then will be published in the UK by HarperCollins on October 2. Click here to pre-order from Amazon

Published: 31 Jul 2006

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