Malice in Wonderland My Adventures in the World of Cecil Beaton

Hugo Vickers

$35

In stock


‘A fascinating document, a window on to a lost world of glamour, grandeur and snobbery … an elegy, sad and comical, to a passing era.’ – Craig Brown, MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘I got as caught up in these distant but strangely evocative events as Vickers did . . . delicious in its way, recreating a lost world’ Ysenda Maxtone Graham, THE TIMES

‘A luxuriant trawl through the recovered past…extraordinary book’ John Walsh, SUNDAY TIMES

‘A quite brilliant record of a fading social and artistic milieu . . . a world to which Vickers is an unrivalled cicerone’
Matthew Sturgis, THE OLDIE

‘Illuminating and brilliantly scurrilous’ Marcus Field, THE STANDARD

‘Scintillating’ DAILY MAIL


The witty and perceptive diaries kept by Cecil Beaton’s authorised biographer during his many fascinating encounters with extraordinary – often legendary – characters in his search for the real Cecil Beaton.

Hugo Vickers’s life took a dramatic turn in 1979 when the legendary Sir Cecil Beaton invited him to be his authorised biographer. The excitement of working with the famous photographer was dashed only days later when Cecil Beaton died. But the journey had begun – Vickers was entrusted with Beaton’s papers, diaries and, most importantly, access to his friends and contemporaries. The resulting book, first published in 1985, was a bestseller.

In Malice in Wonderland, Vickers shares excerpts from his personal diaries kept during this period. For five years, Vickers travelled the world and talked to some of the most fascinating and important social and cultural figures of the time, including royalty such as the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, film stars such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews, writers such as Truman Capote, and photographers such as Irving Penn and Horst. And not only Beaton’s friends – Vickers sought out the enemies too, notably Irene Selznick. He was taken under the wings of Lady Diana Cooper, Clarissa Avon and Diana Vreeland.

Drawn into Beaton’s world and accepted by its members, Vickers the emerging biographer also began his own personal adventure. The outsider became the insider – Beaton’s friends became his friends. Malice in Wonderland is a fascinating portrait of a now disappeared world, and vividly and sensitively portrays some of its most fascinating characters as we travel with Vickers on his quest.

$35

In stock

ISBN – 9781529376401
Publisher – Hodder & Stoughton
Format – Paperback
Publication Date – 11/05/2021
Dimensions – 234mm X 155mm
Categories – Biography

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Hugo Vickers
The Sphinx The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough


**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, SUNDAY TIMES

‘Gripping . . . jaw-dropping story, brilliantly told’ Ysenda Maxtone Graham, THE TIMES

‘Mr. Vickers, with his sharp eye for detail, splendidly captures the drama of Gladys’s life and the amazing cast of characters she encountered’ WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘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 two years, eventually publishing Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough, a biography of her life – and his first book – in 1979, two years after Gladys’s death. Forty years on, Vickers has now completely rewritten and revised his original biography, updating it with previously unavailable material and drawing on his own personal research all over Europe and America.

He once asked Gladys, ‘Where is Gladys Deacon?’ She answered him slowly, ‘Gladys Deacon? . . . She never existed.’ The Sphinx is a fascinating portrait of this elusive but brilliant woman who was at the centre of a now bygone era of wealth and privilege – and a tribute to one of the brightest stars of her age.

$28

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