TRIBUTE TO LOUISE ELLIOTT
This issue is dedicated to the memory of deputy editor Louise Elliott, a valued, loved and respected member of the team, who worked on Country Living for over 20 years and died of cancer on 4 September 2017, aged 57
Remembering Country Living’s much-loved and long-standing deputy editor
Louise joined Country Living as deputy chief sub-editor in 1996 and soon rose to become chief sub-editor, then associate editor and, in 2012, deputy editor. These roles require a very certain set of skills. One has to be immensely organised, remain calm and exercise true diplomacy. A sense of humour also helps!
Louise was organised and diplomatic, but it would be wrong to say she was always calm. Under pressure she had the same desire to let off steam as everyone else. It was at this point that something had to give – and it usually did. Louise’s answer? To whistle. Or sing. Loudly! The singing often took the form of music from old movies, of which she had a comprehensive knowledge. This usually diffused any tension. One colleague said: “It’s hard to feel stressed when someone is whistling the tune to Match of the Day beside you.”
There was often laughter when Louise was around. If there was an opportunity to put on a silly wig or demonstrate a dance step, she would do so, in the middle of the office! She delighted in innuendo, could spot a double entendre at a hundred paces and loved to entertain an audience. One of the team said: “Her stories, and the hilarious way she related them, were the stuff of legend.”
Louise grew up in the Quaker village of Jordans, Buckinghamshire, where her sister Clare, a doctor, and her mother, Annie (née Sheppard), a retired schoolteacher, still live. Her other sister, Jane, lives in Germany, and her brother, Ian, in Paris. Her Northern Irish father, William Elliott, was an accountant. She studied English literature at King’s College London and early in her career worked as a sub-editor on Running magazine and Ideal Home. She ran the London marathon twice, and in her lunch breaks at Country Living would don her running gear at least once a week for a sprint around Regent’s Park.
Louise’s beautifully lyrical writing often appeared in the magazine and included a monthly column, Country in the City. In it she talked about her love of gardening, cats and discovering the corners of London that allowed her to feel she was living a rural life in an urban environment. It was also her opportunity to champion contemporary craft and the urban artisans who produced it. Discovering and meeting these talented people was what she loved the most.
With an encyclopaedic knowledge of Country Living, Louise was the go-to person when someone asked, “When did we last do something on stoats?” or “Have we featured anyone making life-sized crocheted animals?” She would always know the answer.
There are many memories that illustrate her quirky personality: the fact that when cycling down a steep hill, she would stop herself getting scared by repeating the name of a foreign football player over and over; her fear of kedgeree (because it combines smoked fish and egg) and her even greater fear of being offered kedgeree for lunch during an interview for a feature – which actually happened; her love of travel and her tales on returning from a visit to France with her mother or an Italian holiday with her Istrian husband Branco Isic (known as Žduc), whom she married in 1994; her closeness to her family – everyone knew that her Friday lunches with her mother Annie in Liberty were sacrosanct.
Sue Gilkes, Louise’s deputy chief sub-editor on Country Living for many years, says, “Louise was amazing to work for – a beautiful writer and brilliant editor, she was hugely inspiring and instilled in me the importance of striving always to produce your very best work.”
Louise attracted admiration from all her colleagues at Country Living – for her integrity, dedication, kindness and empathy, and her training and mentorship of newcomers. She is survived by Žduc, her stepson, Matija, her mother and her siblings. She will be much missed by us all.
“A beautiful writer and brilliant editor, she was hugely inspiring”