Birth: 7 September 1916

Place or Registered Place of Birth: Woodbridge, Suffolk

Baptism: Not Known

Place of Baptism: Not Known

Death: 14 October 2002 - Aged 86

Place or Registered Place of Death: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Father: Eric Morton Paget

Mother: Georgina Byng Paget


1. Charles Cecil Patrick Kerwin (1899-)

2. Arthur John Goodman (-1964)

Date of Marriage:

1. 23 June 1942

2. 10 May 1954

Place or Registered Place of Marriage:

1. Kensington, Middlesex

2. Not Known


Celia Goodman, [nee Paget], linguist, musician and intellectual, was born on September 7, 1916, in Woodbridge, Suffolk. She died in Cambridge on October 19, 2002, aged 86. She was the daughter of Eric Morton Paget [1867-1929] of the Marquesses of Anglesey, by his wife Georgina. She married [i] 1942 [div. 1946], Charles Cecil Patrick Kerwin; & [ii] Arthur John Goodman, who d. 1964.

The Times - June 24, 1942
Kerwin : Paget. - On Tuesday, June 23, 1942, at Kensington, Charles Cecil Patrick Kerwin to Celia Mary Paget.

The week before Celia Goodman died at the age of 86 she attended her regular Cambridge extra-mural class in Ancient Greek. She had always wanted to learn more about Greek literature. She played her Bach, Mozart and Schumann on her piano, read voraciously and critically (both going back and keeping up), and met, phoned and corresponded with old friends, such as were still alive, until the end. If she was frail in body, she still retained the energetic mind and the warmth for friends. (And she had endured chronic asthma all her life.) What did she do? She had the simple gift of disinterested friendship with interesting people.

She was born Celia Paget in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1916 together with her twin Mamaine, later to be Arthur Koestler's second wife. Their mother, Georgina, also born a Paget, died seven days after their birth. Their father, Eric, of a large gentry and aristocratic connection (a great-grandson of the ninth Baron Paget and first Earl of Uxbridge), died when they were 12.

They were then brought up by a cousin in Roehampton, Surrey, whose French wife was much absorbed in the social round of high society. After an English boarding school and a French pensionnat de jeunes filles, she ensured that they were presented at court. With their remarkable beauty and vivacity, they were acclaimed the debs of the year, so enjoyed (or endured) the round of a second season. But, that over, they both – a tribute to their real education as well as their character – moved into a different and more attractive world of writers and musicians, doing odd jobs for authors and editors. Not that they could shake off society entirely. They were said to be the most photographed beauties of the late 1930s in society magazines. Celia would admit this with a mixture of irony and pride.

She worked as a nurse during the Second World War and in 1942 married the Irish writer Patrick Kirwan; but it was a "wartime marriage", indeed dissolved in 1946. All one gathers is that he was a charming, wild and promiscuous character, while she by nature was calm and, give or take an odd mistake, discriminate. She was briefly an editorial assistant to Cyril Connolly on Horizon, meeting Diana Witherby and Sonia Brownell (later Blair or Orwell), then with Humphrey Slater on Polemic (a short-lived journal with which both Koestler and George Orwell were associated); and for longer with Peter Quennell in the early days of History Today, writing occasional pieces.

Her sister Mamaine was living with Arthur Koestler (she married him in 1950). Celia, waiting for her divorce, joined them for Christmas 1945 in Koestler's hired bleak house near Blaenau Ffestiniog, in Merionethshire. The other guest was Koestler's great friend George Orwell. Recently widowed, he arrived with his adopted son on one arm and a battered suitcase on the other.

Celia told me that she was immediately attracted, sensing "something wonderful about him". She recalled later his words in Homage to Catalonia (1938): "Queer the affection you can feel for a stranger." Orwell proposed to her. He was in a proposing mood. Koestler plunged into enthusiastic support – he and his best friend both married to identical twins! She turned George down very gently. Deep and lasting friendship at first sight, but not love. And she told Arthur to contain his passion for coincidences.

The friendship led him into posthumous trouble. In 1946 Celia Kirwan began work under Robert Conquest in the Information Research Department, a special unit of the Foreign Office set up by Ernest Bevin to counteract Communist propaganda. Orwell in 1949 sent her a list of 35 British left-wingers who were untrustworthy or unsuitable to commission for anti-Communist writing. When in 1996 documentation was released in the Public Record Office, The Daily Telegraph crowed that "an icon of the left" had been exposed as spying on his friends and even The Guardian took much the same line, as if old fellow travellers believed that it was illiberal to fight back against determined Communist attempts to subvert the Labour movement. (Journalists had not read an extensive footnote in my 1980 life of Orwell!)

Celia told the press:

George was quite right to do so. What does make me cross is when headline writers state that George had betrayed his friends. These people were not his friends. And, of course, everyone thinks that these people were going to be shot at dawn. The only thing that was going to happen to them was they wouldn't be asked to write for the Information Research Department.

She was always sturdy but judicious in defence of friends. Mamaine had died, of asthma, in 1954. When David Cesarani's Arthur Koestler: the homeless mind appeared in 1998 with its accusation that Koestler raped the film-maker Jill Craigie, she doubted it, unless he was very, very drunk. Possible, but not likely, yet he was a pouncer. He pounced on me the very day after he met Mamaine at a party of Cyril Connolly's . . . He didn't have to rape anyone. He had a compulsion to seduce women, just trying it on, and very often succeeded.

She forced Cesarani and his publisher to insert slips in his book apologising that he had confused her name and actions with those of Cynthia Jeffries, Koestler's third wife, of whom she was also a supportive (she needed it) friend.

While at the Foreign Office Celia had met a diplomat, Arthur Goodman, whom she married in 1954. He died in an accident 10 years later. Thereafter she led a retired life of lively activity: always critical of pretentious writing or "show-off" musicians, but never malicious. She edited in 1985 Living with Koestler: Mamaine Koestler's letters, 1945-51, with a shrewd and empathetic introduction. She did some editorial work for the great Cambridge edition of the letters of Charles Dickens. She wrote from time to time for the London Magazine and gave occasional papers to the Cambridge Reading Circle (a group of high-powered women). Those on her friends Edmund Wilson and Sacheverell Sitwell are remembered, as well as one on Georges Sand. She joked that people "are puzzled who I am and think I must be even older than I am".

Who was she, indeed? The cliché that she had a most rare gift for real friendships needs enlivening – that is real and honest friendship, critical if necessary, supportive on need. Such a good old-fashioned idea of friendship is not to be confused with wide sociability that is now so much more common and prized – knowing everyone, superficially. The literary intellectual had had enough of that in her youth.

Arthur John Goodman was the son of Joseph Goodman. He married Celia Mary Paget, daughter of Eric Morton Paget and Georgina Byng Paget, on 10 May 1954. He died on 21 June 1964.

Arthur John Goodman was a Chaplain to the Community of the Holy Cross at Haywards Heath, Sussex, England. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

Children of Celia Mary Paget and Arthur John Goodman:

Ariane Goodman b. 14 Aug 1955
Mark Eden Goodman b. 9 May 1957

Celia Mary Paget