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Hugo Vickers was born in 1951 and educated at Eton and Strasbourg University. His books include Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece; Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough; Cecil Beaton; Vivien Leigh; Loving Garbo; Royal Orders; The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; and The Kiss, which won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen for Non-fiction. He is an acknowledged expert on the royal family, appears regularly on television and has lectured all over the world. Hugo Vickers is married and has two sons and a daughter.
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, 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. Some members of the Royal Family, like Mountbatten and the Queen Mother, don't emerge with much credit either. Hugo Vickers relates a tragic story which has lost none of its resonance over the years since the Duchess died in 1986.
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.
**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.
Cecil Beaton was one of Britain's greatest cultural icons - not just as a photographer capturing some of the most celebrated portraits of the 20th century but also as designer of the iconic sets and costumes for the films My Fair Lady and Gigi. In 1980, Beaton personally chose Hugo Vickers to be his biographer, entrusting him with his diaries and the entire body of letters he had written - both personally and professionally - over the course of his life. Drawing on five years of intensive research and interviews with the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote, Princess Grace of Monaco and Sir John Gielgud, Vickers' biography was an instant bestseller upon its publication in 1985. Exploring Beaton's metamorphosis from being the child of a staid middle-class family to an international figure mingling with the glittering stars of his age, the biography also details his great love for Greta Garbo and reveals his private sense of failure that the success he always wanted - as a playwright - eluded him. Republished in a new paperback edition in time for Bright Young Things, a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2020, Cecil Beaton is the definitive and authorised biography of one of the world's most fascinating, famous and admired photographers.
SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION 'The most knowledgeable royal biographer on the planet' The Financial Times Hugo Vickers is an acknowledged authority on the British Royal Family. He has commented on royal matters on television and radio since 1973 and worked as historical adviser on a number of films. He is the author of books on the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Andrew of Greece (Prince Philip's mother) and Queen Mary - all of whom are featured in the popular Netflix show, The Crown. Now, in this sequel to The Crown: Truth & Fiction Vickers separates fact from fiction in season 3 of this television series. Episode-by-episode analysis dissects the plots, characterisation and historical detail in each storyline. Vickers tells us what really happened and what certainly did not happen. The Crown: Dissected also includes commentaries on seasons 1 and 2.
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, assesses 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.
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.