by Richard Brookhiser

When I first met Frances Bronson, as an NR intern 36 summers ago, I was a bit intimidated. In the Book of Job God speaks from a whirlwind. Frances lived in one — the spin of WFB’s ceaseless demands and commands, and the world’s demands on him. She had that Brit accent — a base paint of the East End, with some acquired refinements — before which all Americans tremble. She would interrupt you to seize the phone, then bang it down with the same brusqueness.

That’s what you had to do to ride Hurricane Bill. But even youthful me soon saw her warmth and her humor.

She exercised the latter, occasionally, at WFB’s expense. I remember one story of when she accompanied him on a trip to England where he taped a debate with Germaine Greer, I think it was. Greer asked him beforehand where he got his shirts. He said, Turnbull and Asser. That’s where I get mine, Greer replied appreciatively. Frances liked that one.

Her retirement in the face of age and illness left the office a duller place; her passing leaves a duller world. What a beautiful woman she was. RIP.

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