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The Sphinx

The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough

Hugo Vickers

$24.99

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John Murray
27 April 2021
**The Times and Sunday Times Books of the Year 2020** 'This biography is truly wonderful - a masterclass in storytelling' Sunday Times 'A continuously astonishing and ultimately moving account of a unique figure, the stuff of great literature' Simon Callow, THE SUNDAY TIMES 'Gripping . . . jaw-dropping story, brilliantly told' Ysenda Maxtone Graham, THE TIMES 'The last book that made me cry . . . a really thorough and well-researched biography' Lynda La Plante, Good Housekeeping 'The most extraordinary, rackety life' William Boyd, DAILY TELEGRAPH 'Richly anecdotal and oddly captivating' Miranda Seymour, FINANCIAL TIMES 'At the end of the book the reader can only say, Whew! What a story! ' Anne de Courcy, SPECTATOR 'Hugo Vickers's life of Gladys Marlborough is an extraordinary and tragic story, with special resonance today' EVENING STANDARD ******************* One of the most beautiful and brilliant women of her time, Gladys Deacon dazzled and puzzled the glittering social circles in which she moved.

Born in Paris to American parents in 1881, Gladys emerged from a traumatic childhood - her father having shot her mother's lover dead when Gladys was only eleven - to captivate and inspire some of the greatest literary and artistic names of the Belle Epoque. Marcel Proust wrote of her, 'I never saw a girl with such beauty, such magnificent intelligence, such goodness and charm.' Berenson considered marrying her, Rodin and Monet befriended her, Boldini painted her and Epstein sculpted her. She inspired love from diverse Dukes and Princes, and the interest of women such as the Comtesse Greffulhe and Gertrude Stein.

In 1921, when Gladys was forty, she achieved the wish she had held since the age of fourteen to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough, then freshly divorced from fellow American Consuelo Vanderbilt. Gladys's circle now included Lady Ottoline Morrell, Lytton Strachey and Winston Churchill, who described her as 'a strange, glittering being'. But life at Blenheim was not a success: when the Duke evicted her in 1933, the only remaining signs of Gladys were two sphinxes bearing her features on the west terraces and mysterious blue eyes in the grand portico. She became a recluse, and the wax injections she'd had to straighten her nose when she was 22 had by now ravaged her beauty. Gladys was to spend her last years in the psycho-geriatric ward of a mental hospital, where she was discovered by a young Hugo Vickers.

Intrigued and compelled to unmask the truth of her mysterious life, Vickers visited her over the course of tw
By:   Hugo Vickers
Imprint:   John Murray
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 128mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   300g
ISBN:   9781529390742
ISBN 10:   1529390745
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   27 April 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Hugo Vickers is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and an acknowledged expert on the British Royal Family. He has written biographies of the Queen Mother, Cecil Beaton, Vivien Leigh, Princess Andrew of Greece and the Duchess of Windsor. His book The Kiss won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. His recent bestsellers have included The Quest For Queen Mary and The Sphinx - the life of Gladys, the Duchess of Marlborough.

Reviews for The Sphinx: The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough

'Vickers gives breathing, alarming life to a woman who puzzled and thrilled her contemporaries' * Sunday Times *


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