Interview with Lady Colin Campbell, author of "Daughter of Narcissus"


Lady Colin Campbell is a highly successful and prolific author of several books, including London and New York Times bestsellers, and has been a prominent and often controversial figure in royal and social circles for many years. She perhaps is best known for her international bestselling book Diana in Private, 1992, and her subsequent extended and revelatory biography of the Princess of Wales, The Real Diana published in 2004. She has written books on the Royal Family, been a long term columnist and appeared numerous times on TV and radio as an experienced Royal Insider and expert on the British aristocracy. In 1997 she published her autobiography, A Life Worth Living, which was serialized in The Daily Mail. Born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, she was educated there and in New York, where she lived for seven years. She is connected to British royalty through common ancestors and marriage. She has two sons and lives in London.

You can visit her publisher online at

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Daughter of Narcissus is a memoir of my family’s struggle to cope with and move on from my mother Gloria’s narcissistic personality disorder.

NPD is not an easy disorder to deal with, but by being as frank as I could be, I hope I have provided some insight for the reader into what one’s choices and options are, as how one can recover from an NPD parent and go on to be a happy, fulfilled and productive individual.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

Something specific did indeed inspire me to write Daughter of Narcissus. I was staying with a great friend in New York and we were discussing our NPD mothers when one of America’s most respected psychoanalysts suggested that I write a book on the subject using my family’s personal experience as the vehicle. She said that she believed I had the ability to do justice to the subject. This in itself was highly complimentary, as she is such an eminent psychoanalyst that a vote of confidence from her, especially on a subject like as complex as NPD, was worth anyone else’s recommendation a hundredfold.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

The eminent American psychoanalyst Dr Erika Freeman was the inspiration for Daughter of Narcissus. When she first suggested that I write about how my family and I survived our mother’s narcissism, I recoiled at the prospect of violating my mother’s privacy. But Erika convinced me that since Gloria was dead, and my family’s experiences might help or inspire others, I almost had a duty to share what I had been through with others. Upon reflection, I thought her point of view had merit, and when it became apparent that my sisters had no objection, I decided to go ahead.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I have never had any one person who would qualify as my biggest supporter. However, I have always had several people who are supporters. In my early days as a writer, Barbara Taylor Bradford was particularly helpful. Later on, the Australian journalist/author Catherine Olsen stepped into Barbara’s shoes. Other friends who are not professionals and might therefore not want their names mentioned have also been supportive over the years.

Your biggest critic?

My biggest critic is fortunately dead. His name was Nigel Dempster, and he was a vicious, poisonous gossip columnist who waged vendettas against a variety of people, including Sir James Goldsmith, the Aga Khan, and Queen Noor of Jordan, for no reason at all except that he was full of hatred and loved hating. When he was retiring – he died of a rare neurological complaint – the Daily Mail in London compiled his Hit List. I was No. 2 on it, immediately below Jimmy Goldsmith. People used to say that I should take being in such hallowed company as a compliment of sorts, but that was scant consolation for the vile and evil things that he used to say.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

The cause I am most passionate about is civil liberties. I think that we in the West are in danger of seeing our supposedly democratic governments erode many of the freedoms our forefathers spent nearly a millennium acquiring, starting in 1215 when the Magna Carta was signed.

When I was a student in New York in the late 60s we were taught that Thoreau was wise indeed when he said that ‘the least government is the best government’ and that ‘civil disobedience’ could be something admirable. That does not mean that governments should not be responsible and that they should not provide services, but it does mean that they should not be regulating our lives to the extent that the government in Britain does, nor that the US government should violate international treaties such as the Geneva Convention, or use the threat of terrorism to suspend habeas corpus and hold people with charge, trial, or legal representation. We must as a civilization realize that MILLIONS of people died to achieve the freedoms we took for granted for the second half of the 20th century. Do we really want to throw a victory to haters of liberty, whether they come draped in exotic garments or in pin striped suits in Westminster and Washington?

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

My children are by far the most important thing in my life. I cannot envisage ever putting anyone before them, but that does not mean I spoil them. Indeed, one of the lessons I learnt from having a narcissistic mother is how important it is to NOT spoil your child. I believe in praise when it is deserved and scolding when that is appropriate, and while I would hardly say I am a perfect mother or that my boys are angels, they are pretty good guys who can see through the rubbish that is so prevalent in every day life.

What are you currently working on?

I never start one writing one book until I have finished promoting my last one, but I am already contracted to edit and write the foreword for an 18th century memoir dealing with the French Revolution, after which I will be doing a book on the social skills that secure success.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?

I think my greatest achievement as a writer to date has been producing the only contemporaneous biography of the Princess of Wales that have stood the test of time well enough for all its contents and conclusions to have been proven to be factual. It took quite a lot of courage to let the world know that Diana was not a saint or an angel, but a complex, contradictory woman with both virtues and vices. When I wrote Diana in Private, I was roundly lambasted – indeed, some of my critics were so hysterical that you would have thought I had said she was Joseph Stalin in drag. As the well-known English anchor, Richard Madeley, had the good grace to admit on his television show, “You were right and we were wrong”.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

I will rely upon the opinion of Dr. Anna Brocklebank, who feels that Daughter of Narcissus is set apart from other books in its genre by virtue of being a “penetrating and insightful examination of a serious subject in the form of a memoir which actually raises that medium to new heights”.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

The most important lesson I have learnt so far is that what ultimately makes one’s life worthwhile isn’t what happens to one, but what one does with what has happened. I believe that the ancient alchemists lost their way when they thought that we can convert base metal into actual gold, but the principle of alchemy nevertheless applies in spiritual terms, and all base metal can be converted into spiritual gold if you have the right attitude. In Daughter of Narcissus I show how my mother had every gift God could have given anyone, yet she ended up a bitter, twisted, miserable human being because she never assumed responsibility for herself and her fate.


Daughter of Narcissus is a stunning analysis by Lady Colin of her own dysfunctional family positioned at the heart of upper class Jamaican society from the middle of the 20th century to the present day. Covering the end of the British Colonial Age and the rise of a liberated generation, whilst addressing the narcissistic personality of her mother, the author brilliantly interconnects the sociological, political and personal. As she dissects the family dynamics lying beneath the appearance of wealth and power, Lady Colin’s understanding of personality disorder is revelatory: compelling the reader to comprehend the destructive and tragic reality concealed by rational language and behavior.

Set against a backdrop of glamour, wealth and fame, this compulsive book is both a fascinating history of one socially prominent family, and a uniquely detailed analysis of narcissism, its manifestations and how to survive them in order to lead a purposeful and affirming life.