Richissime beauté américaine qui éblouit la société européenne au tournant du siècle, Gladys Deacon (1881-1977), après une enfance traumatisante, reçoit une solide éducation en Europe et aux États-Unis. À l'âge de 14 ans, fascinée par les fiançailles de Consuelo Vanderbilt avec le duc de Marlborough, elle se promet de l'épouser un jour. Après ses études, elle partage sa vie entre Paris, Florence et Londres où elle s'entoure d'artistes renommés et sert de modèle aux plus grands peintres et sculpteurs, notamment Boldini, Sargent et Epstein.
À Florence, Bernard Berenson envisage de lui demander d'être son épouse, à Blenheim, le prince héritier de Prusse lui jure un amour éternel en lui offrant une bague. À Versailles, le duc de Norfolk la demande en mariage et à Rome, Roffredo Caetani, prince de Bassiano, succombe à son charme.
À Paris, elle séduit Anatole France ou le marquis de Charette... et à Nice le duc de Connaught, troisième fils de la reine Victoria. Elle fascine Proust, Rodin, Monet, Henry James... et épouse, comme elle l'avait décidé dans son enfance, le 9e duc de Marlborough, propriétaire du domaine de Blenheim, avant de disparaître totalement du monde pendant plus de quarante ans.
Illustré de 130 photos. Important index de plus de 600 noms.
Traduit de l'anglais par Laure Gruet.
Greta Garbo's enduring legend derives from her incandescent performances as a woman in love in such classics as Camille, Queen Christina and Grand Hotel. For half a century her apparently reclusive existence enhanced her reputation as a remote and enigmatic screen goddess.
Now, in this beautifully illustrated book, Hugo Vickers tells the remarkable story of Greta Garbo and of the two love affairs that dominated her life: with Cecil Beaton and the notorious Mercedes de Acosta. It is a highly revealing portait of an exotic world - at its centre, an enthrallign and demanding star who gave little in return.
Writing about Hugo Vickers's last book for Hutchinson, Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, a succession of fellow biographers applauded Vickers's unique skill. 'Masterly . . . Hugo Vickers's long immersion in the history and dramatic personae of the Royal Family has certainly paid off' - Selina Hastings. 'A bulging plum pudding of insider snippets', commented Robert Lacey. 'An overall portrait which may well be as close as anyone will ever get to the truth', said Craig Brown. And A.N. Wilson added admiringly, 'There is a small handful of British royal biographies which have acquired classic status . . . It is a truly magnificent book. Hugo Vickers knows his subject through and through.' Hugo Vickers has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Royal Family, and has had a fascination with the story of the Duchess of Windsor since he was a young man. There have been a number of books about this doomed couple (and Channel 4 is very interested in doing a programme based on Hugo's text), but this book brings a new perspective on the story by focussing on the later years of exile.
While Vickers has his own theories about the Abdication itself, and he makes it very clear that Mrs Simpson did not lure the King from the throne, the drama of this narrative comes from the criminal exploitation of an old sick woman after the death of her husband. She was ruthlessly exploited by a French lawyer called Suzanne Blum. Som members of the Royal Family, like Mountbatten and the Queen Mother, don't emerge with much credit either.
Using previously unpublished papers and other personal testaments, Hugo Vickers relates a tragic story which has lost none of its resonance over the years since the Duchess died in 1986.
Harold Nicolson called her 'the greatest Queen since Cleopatra', while Cecil Beaton called her 'a marshmallow made on a welding machine'. Stephen Tennant said: 'She looked everything that she was not: gentle, gullible, tenderness mingled with dispassionate serenity, cool, well-bred, remote. Behind this veil she schemed and vacillated, hard as nails.' Who was she?
The Queen Mother's story has not yet been properly told. This was partly due to her long life, and the difficulty that always exists when a biography of a living person is attempted, partly because she was a queen - and the real person gets hidden behind the perceived image - and partly because she is hard to pin down.
From her privileged aristocratic childhood, to the abdication and the problems with Diana - this book questions how she faced her challenges and crises, assess her role, how powerful she was, and how she coped. This is a candid, personal portrait of one of Britain's most loved national treasures.
Hugo Vickers, an acknowledged expert on the House of Windsor, has spent seventeen years researching this book, and observed the Queen Mother in public and private over a period of forty years.