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Audrey Withers, 90; British Vogue Editor From 1940 to 1960

Audrey Withers, 90, an editor who took British Vogue from wartime austerity to the cusp of the swinging 1960s, died Oct. 26 in England.

Under her tenure, Vogue featured dispatches from war correspondent Lee Miller, essays by Kingsley Amis and Bertrand Russell and recipes from legendary food writer Elizabeth David.

It also showcased some of the century’s greatest fashion photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn.

During World War II, Vogue was a bible for glamour-starved British women. Its fashion advice was practical and often stern: “Knees seldom please” was the verdict on short skirts.

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Born in Hale, Yorkshire, the daughter of a doctor, Withers attended Oxford University. She worked in bookselling and publishing before joining Vogue as a sub-editor. She was appointed editor in 1940.

After retiring from the magazine in 1960, Withers ran a farm and, with her Russian-born husband, Victor Kennett, wrote the travel book “Palaces of Leningrad.” Kennett died in 1980.

In 1994, Withers published her memoir, “Lifespan.”


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