The Sphinx: The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough (Hardback)
  • The Sphinx: The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough (Hardback)
zoom

The Sphinx: The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough (Hardback)

(author)
£25.00
Hardback 400 Pages / Published: 09/01/2020
  • 10+ in stock
  • Free UK delivery

Usually dispatched within 24 hours

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect
Waterstones Says

Vickers’s original biography of the Duchess of Marlborough, published in 1979, made the young writer’s name and reputation, and now, forty years on, The Sphinx updates the remarkable story of Gladys Deacon in light of new research and sources. A captivating story of high society glamour gone sour, this is a majestic, page-turning narrative.    

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.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781529390704
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 660 g
Dimensions: 238 x 160 x 40 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'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 

You may also be interested in...

Downsizing
Added to basket
£14.99   £11.99
Hardback
Last Stop Auschwitz
Added to basket
£14.99   £12.99
Hardback
Break Point
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
For the Record
Added to basket
£25.00   £12.50
Hardback
The Spy and the Traitor
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Battle Scars
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
The Man in the Red Coat
Added to basket
£20.00   £10.00
Hardback
Secrets and Lies
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Churchill
Added to basket
£14.99   £12.99
Paperback
A History of the World in 21 Women
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
Margaret Thatcher
Added to basket
£35.00   £17.50
Hardback
The Hard Way
Added to basket
£20.00   £10.00
Hardback
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Added to basket
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister
Added to basket
£25.00   £12.50
Hardback
The Diary of a Young Girl
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.