Vanessa Hannam was born and raised in the Quaker village of Jordans, Buckinghamshire. She is a descendant of Admiral Anson, the celebrated sea lord and the granddaughter of Francis Anson, who emigrated to Texas in the early twentieth century to develop breeding of the now ubiquitous American Quarter Horse.
On leaving school, Vanessa planned to train as a nurse at St. Georges Hospital in London, but her life took an unexpected turn when a friend secretly entered her into a competition, with which she won a place on a modelling course at the Lucie Clayton College. She moved to London, where she met the French Impressionist artist Paul Maze, who had a major influence in her life, introducing her to many of his contemporaries including the painter Segonzac. She became a great friend of the cookery writer Elizabeth David, who left her with a lifelong interest in cooking. After working as a couture model for Worth & Paquin, she became the personal assistant to the director of the Contemporary Art Society at the Tate Gallery.
She later married and had four children, during which time she studied singing with Walter Gruner at the Guildhall, performing in concerts, oratorios and amateur operatic productions. Music has always played a key part in Vanessa's life and most recently she used her love of opera to organise a fundraising concert and dinner at St. John, Smith Square in aid of Cruse Bereavement Care, a charity she has supported and been a trustee of for many years.
Working as a freelance journalist, she has written for numerous publications including The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph and Harpers & Queen. In 1993 she began writing short stories and has since published three novels. One of her short stories, Annunciata, an Italian ghost story, has been turned into a screenplay and is currently under option by The Roses production company (Mrs Henderson Presents).
Vanessa currently lives in London and on the Isle of Wight with her husband of 30 years, former Exeter MP Sir John Hannam, their two dogs and an ever-expanding family. Vanessa's daughter, Lucy O'Donnell founded Lovedean Larder, the award-winning granola company, whose products are stocked in many quality delicatessens and were launched in Waitrose in the summer of 2008. Anson Wauchope, Vanessa's son, is an accomplished flautist, singer and actor. He has recorded several CDs and most recently featured in commercials for Tyski Beer and XBox.
Vanessa's new novel
to be published by