Thursday 27 June 2019

TOLKIEN | Tolkien's Story | FOX Searchlight

Tolkien review – affecting biopic of the Lord of the Rings creator
3 / 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars.    
This refreshing origins story, starring Nicholas Hoult, traces the early life of JRR Tolkien as he makes friends at Oxford, finds love and faces the horror of war

Peter Bradshaw
Thu 2 May 2019 13.00 BST Last modified on Fri 3 May 2019 14.25 BST

A sweet innocence and high-mindedness pervade this movie from screenwriters David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford and the Finnish director Dome Karukoski. It’s about the early life of JRR Tolkien – who, like CS Lewis, became a staggeringly successful author but remained an unworldly Oxford don to the end of his days, never dreaming of the kind of mega-celebrity and super-wealth that writers such as JK Rowling or George RR Martin enjoy.

Nicholas Hoult plays the doe-eyed young John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, an orphaned boy at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, with a brilliant facility for languages who makes three good friends there (his “fellowship”) and falls shyly in love with the young woman at his boarding house, Edith Bratt (Lily Collins), but who is forced by his Catholic guardian into choosing between early marriage and going up to Oxford.

The story is told via flashbacks from his soldier’s existence at the Somme in 1916, worrying about his schoolroom comrades and agonising over the love he might have lost. There are various moments that are supposed to be goosebump-inducing premonitions of Tolkien’s future created world (at the Somme, he has a batman called Sam, played by Craig Roberts) and visions of dragons in the midst of the western front carnage. But the film, understandably perhaps, can’t reconcile his romantic and mythic vision of battle with the banal horror of the first world war.

I very much enjoyed the young Tolkien’s prewar ecstatic conversion to the world of philology at Oxford, with Derek Jacobi’s sharp-tongued professor telling him to write a 5,000-word essay on the Norse influence on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight before teatime. (Sadly, the film doesn’t show him having to do that.)

This is a very male world and perhaps the inner life of Edith remains a mystery (as perhaps it might have been for Tolkien), but its earnestness and idealism are refreshing.

BBC Archival Footage-In Their Own Words British Authors J.R.R. Tolkien P...

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE FRSL ( 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic, who is best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, from 1945 to 1959. He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After Tolkien's death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda and Middle-earth  within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy.In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning "dead celebrity" in 2009.

Friday 21 June 2019

Remembering Ninalee Craig and the ‘American Girl in Italy’

Ninalee Allen Craig died on May 1st
The star of one of the 20th century’s most famous and controversial images was 90
May 17th 2018
THE photograph, by Ruth Orkin, was called “American Girl in Italy, Florence, 1951”. Whenever it surfaced, in restaurants, in students’ rooms, on T-shirts, on tote bags, so did the questions for Ninalee Allen Craig, who walked at its heart through a phalanx of Italian men. They stared and leered; one grabbed his crotch; their calls were almost audible. Wasn’t she afraid? Surely she was upset? Her downcast eyes, that clutch of her shawl, strongly suggested both those things.
Then she would laugh her boisterous full laugh and say, not at all. On the contrary, she was imagining she was Dante’s Beatrice. She had studied the “Divine Comedy” with Robert Fitzgerald at Sarah Lawrence in New York, and had fallen in love with that notion of unattainable beauty. Her dollar-a-night hotel was on the Arno, and she had a corny postcard of a Victorian painting by Henry Holiday that showed Beatrice walking by the river, in shining white, ignoring the stricken Dante, who pressed his pounding heart at the sight of her. Who knew whether her very own Dante might not be standing on some corner, while she swept luminously by?

In 1951, Ninalee Craig, then using the name "Jinx Allen", went on a six-month tour of Europe. While in Florence, Italy, she met photographer Ruth Orkin and the two became friends. Orkin photographed Craig as she walked around Florence capturing images of her shopping at markets, flirting in cafés, viewing landmarks, and other travel experiences. The most iconic of the photos is known as American Girl in Italy and shows Craig walking down a street being ogled by a group of men.
Many interpret the photograph as one of harassment and chauvinism.[6] In 2014, Craig said: "At no time was I unhappy or harassed in Europe". "[The photograph is] not a symbol of harassment. It's a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time!" She has also noted that "Italian men are very appreciative, and it's nice to be appreciated. I wasn't the least bit offended."
Later life
After her trip, Craig returned to New York City and worked as a teacher and an ad writer. She was married to an Italian and lived with him in Milan, but later divorced. After returning to New York, she met a Canadian man, married him, and moved to Toronto. She had a large extended family, including 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Ninalee Craig: The woman made famous by the ‘American Girl in Italy’ photos

‘American Girl in Italy’ has adorned the walls of homes for generations. For its subject, Ninalee Craig, it was a symbol of a woman having a wonderful time

Ellie Silverman
Wednesday 9 May 2018 10:15
The Independent

In August 1951, at a dollar-a-night hotel in Florence, two American women came face-to-face in the hallway one morning.

One was Ruth Orkin, a promising 29-year-old photojournalist who was seeking a subject for a magazine photo spread about the experiences of women travelling abroad alone – a rare thing to do at the time.

The other was Ninalee Allen, a 23-year-old adventure-seeking graduate of Sarah Lawrence College who had been travelling solo for months through France, Spain and Italy. She called herself “Jinx” because she thought it sounded exciting.

“She was beautiful, luminescent and, unlike me, very tall,” Orkin later told The New York Times. Allen agreed to the photo shoot as a lark, and off they went through the streets of Florence.

Imagining she was Beatrice from Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of her favourite books, Allen held her shawl, stood straight and strode past more than a dozen men leering at her from all directions at the corner of Piazza della Repubblica.

Orkin ran ahead, Allen recalled, and “took one picture, asked me to back up, and took a second. That’s all that was done at that location, two pictures.” It took about 35 seconds.

“I spoke only to the two men on the motor scooter,” she said 1995. “I yelled to them to tell the others not to look at the camera.”

In less than one minute, Orkin had captured what would become one of the more indelible photographs of the era: “American Girl in Italy”.

The photo appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine as part of a 1952 photo essay entitled “When You Travel Alone...” and included advice on “money, men and morals to see you through a gay trip and a safe one”.

The caption with the photo of Allen read: “Public admiration … shouldn’t fluster you. Ogling the ladies is a popular, harmless and flattering pastime you’ll run into in many foreign countries. The gentlemen are usually louder and more demonstrative than American men, but they mean no harm.”

Over the decades, the photo was reprinted and hung in dorm rooms, became artwork for homes, appeared in calendars and on postcards and, to some, captured the reality of street harassment or cat-calling long before it was part of the public consciousness. One man, with his hand over his crotch, was airbrushed out in some reproductions.

“Oh, and that poor soul touching himself? I was used to it,” Allen wrote in The Guardian in 2015 under her married name, Ninalee Craig. “It was almost like a good luck sign for the Italian man, making sure the family jewels were intact. When it was first published, that was occasionally airbrushed out but I would never consider it to be a vulgar gesture.”

The photograph invited many interpretations, each adding to its meaning and power. It accompanied stories about harassment, victimhood and the female psyche. In November 2017, a restaurant in Philadelphia removed the photograph after complaints from customers.

It all began to grate on Craig, who said the image represented nothing more than admiration and curiosity and was “a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time”. That she stood six feet tall, she added, may also have explained the gawking.

“Women look at that picture and feel indignant, angry,” she said. “They say, ‘That poor woman. We should be able to walk wherever we want to and not be threatened.’ As gently as I can, I explain I was not feeling fear. There was no danger because it was a far different time.”

Craig, who has died in Toronto aged 90, went on to marry a Venetian count and a Canadian steel industry executive.

Born Ninalee Allen in Indianapolis in the late Twenties, her father was the personnel director for LS Ayres, a department store, and her mother was a home-maker. She studied art history at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, New York, and graduated in 1950.

After her months-long travels in Europe, she settled in New York City and became a copywriter at the J Walter Thompson advertising company.

One day, she wrote in The Guardian, she saw the Orkin photo “blown up in Grand Central Station, used as part of a promotion by Kodak, which horrified my father. He had no idea I was walking around Italy in that way.”

She married Achille Passi, a widowed Venetian count, in 1959, and raised her stepson. She lived in the Passi family villa in Treviso, near Venice, and once described his family as a “very old family where you’re only in the newspaper twice in your life – once when you’re born and once when you die. Period.”

Nine years after the photo of her appeared in Cosmopolitan, it ran in a Time-Life picture book about Italy. The caption identified her, and her mother-in-law was “apoplectic”, Craig said in 1995. The man on the scooter who appears to be gazing at her backside was a cousin of her husband. Her name was not included in future publications, at the Passi family’s request.

After divorcing Passi in the 1970s, she returned to New York and met Robert Ross Craig. In a freakish coincidence, he also had a connection to the Orkin photo: he knew one of the two men sitting on the scooter parked near her. “My God,” he told her, “that’s my business partner in Italy. That’s Carlo Marchi!”

They were married from 1978 until his death in 1996. In addition to her stepson, of Venice, survivors include three stepsons from her second marriage; 11 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Craig remained close friends with Orkin, who died in 1985 after a noted career in photography and filmmaking.

“I wouldn’t say the picture has changed my life but I’ve had so much amusement from it over the years,” Craig wrote in 2015. “And more free meals at Italian restaurants than you’ll ever know.”

Ninalee Craig (Jinx), American icon, born 6 November 1927, died 2 May 2018

© Washington Post

Wednesday 19 June 2019

The Country Landowners Association / VIDEO:Game Fair (1958)

Charles Clover looks at the origins of the CLA

In the Beginning
To open the huge, leather-bound volumes, smelling faintly of mildew, that contain the glossy monochrome pages of Country Life magazine from 1907, the year the body that was to become the CLA was founded, is to glimpse a vanished world.

I am in my forties, yet my father was an Edwardian, born in 1903. I shot with him once before he died, so the gents in tweeds demonstrating how to shoot birds on the left without moving the feet (or taking the pipe out of the mouth) do not seem so very far distant.

Country Life offers an editorial about “The cost of owning an estate”, a fascinating insight into the rural economy of the time. The owner of the estate used as an example gave employment to 74 men, excluding tenants. The total was made up as follows: house and stables, 26; garden, 20; keepers, 3; labourers, 22.

Such an estate might have been worth £250,000 to £500,000 at 1907 prices, its outgoings added up to £14,370 compared with a total income of £14,900. Then, as now, the ownership of land was not likely to attract capitalists who were not born into it as a way of life – unless for social reasons, or for sport.

The three decades leading up to the foundation of what became known as the Central Land Association (to distinguish it from county associations) were a hard, often profitless time for agriculture, caused by the global marketplace of the British Empire.
Home-produced wheat hit its lowest price for 150 years in 1894.

For the countryside the years before the First World War were a time of political and financial uncertainty. A number of rural interests felt the need to band together to make sure their views were represented, or saw the opportunity to exert more influence.

In 1907 came a pamphlet, The Land and the Social Problem, by Algernon Tumor, a high-ranking civil servant and former private secretary to Benjamin Disraeli. In it, he criticised British agriculture for failing to adapt to changing conditions and blamed politicians for their lack of foresight in their treatment of the industry. He advocated the co-operation of owners, tenants and workers in the common interest. His manifesto represented the conception of the CLA.

Copies of the pamphlet were circulated to general approval and a meeting was held on April 19th, 1907, in the junior Carlton Club. Those present were well-connected and had between them a wealth of political experience. It was chaired by Walter Long, a patrician Tory and former President of the Board of Agriculture under Lord Salisbury.
The minutes, in his handwriting, still exist in an exercise book in Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life.

Present beside Tumor were the fourth Earl of Onslow, the Earl of Harrowby and several MPs and landowners including Christopher Tumor, nephew of Algernon, a large Lincolnshire landowner and author of several books on agriculture. The meeting decided to appoint officers of what was initially proposed to be called the Landholders’ Central Association. From the beginning the association tended to be an organisation of owners and land agents – other interests having their own organisations. The National Farmers’ Union – developed from the Lincolnshire Farmers Union – was founded within a year of the CLA in 1908.

On the face of it, the survival of such an organisation after a century would appear to be surprising, given that the world that gave birth to is has vanished utterly. I suspect the clue to the CLA’s survival goes back to that original meeting and the thinking of its founders, who decided that they would engage with the interests of the day in a liberal, forward-thinking way, and not as a club of reactionaries. Lord Onslow, its first chairman, said of the Landowners’ Central Association: “It will endeavour to get rid of a rather stick-in-the-mud attitude on the part of some landowners…if we agree upon a constructive and progressive policy we shall have nothing to fear in the future.” Those still sound like wise words as the CLA enters its second century.

The assault on land, 1907 – 2007
The assault on the land, 1907 - 2007History of the CLALooking back on a century of landowners trying to influence the political ideas of the day, it is remarkable how many policies – such as a tax on land – are cyclical, returning in various guises, often without success. Yet it is also worth celebrating the ultimate demise of a really bad idea from the years of the great ideological divide, land nationalisation.

As we now know, this idea caused poverty and squalor wherever it was tried, in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and even Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia as late as 1970. It exercised the founders of the CLA for more than 30 years. We owe it to their good sense that it was not tried here.

The frontal attack on private property was seldom as fierce as after the Liberal landslide of 1906. The followers of the Liberal Chancellor, Lloyd George, openly favoured land nationalisation, following penal taxation. The first was seen off, but not the latter.

The CLA’s founders, including the Earl of Onslow, its chairman, and its president, Walter Long, wisely did not engage in partisan attacks. They successfully argued for Lloyd George to deduct maintenance when assessing estate income. Meanwhile two committees appointed by the Liberal Government reported in 1912 and 1913 in favour of state ownership of land, as a panacea for depression in agriculture and supposed insecurity of tenure.

These were worrying times for the CLA, as its annual report acknowledged in 1912:
“Probably at no time in the history of our country has there been a greater need for a strong non-party organisation to watch over and safeguard the interests of agriculture and to form and develop a sound and progressive land policy…By this means only will it be possible successfully to meet the attack directed against the landed interest by those who, without knowledge or experience of rural conditions and for reasons quite unconnected with the welfare of the industry, seek to make sweeping and revolutionary changes which, it is believed, would be disastrous, not only to agriculture, but to the country generally.”

To add insult to injury, CLA members felt its leaders had failed to state their case forcibly enough at a crucial time and membership fell.

The First World War killed off Lloyd George’s land taxation plans. It briefly strengthened the fortunes of agriculture and convinced the CLA that it needed to be more organised in representing landowners, rather than tenants and farm workers. Nevertheless, the renamed Central Landowners’ Association was confronted by Lloyd George’s National Government in 1920 with the decision to withdraw support for agriculture. There followed a decade and a half of agricultural recession.

The CLA had its victories, the greatest of which, the de-rating of agricultural land and buildings, came about in the 1928 budget. Its membership was bolstered by thousands of new owner occupiers – one of the many reasons why by the mid 1930s land nationalisation had faded into the background. But over the interwar years, and worse still in the years following the Second World War when many country houses were demolished, the break up estates through taxation and death duties had wide repercussions.

Employment in agriculture tumbled. Crafts died out. Estates became dependent on mass-produced materials from outside. Instead of nationalisation, we got a halfway house for bankrupt estates, the National Trust. Was this really desirable?

Over a century, you could argue that landowners have escaped the worst. The urban masses no longer want to appropriate their land. In part this is due to the pragmatic lobbying skills of the CLA, which have been respected by politicians of both sides. But the landowner has found himself bound increasingly, like Gulliver, by a multiplicity of gossamer threads which affect his freedom to use the land and even his leisure.

Conflicting Interests
Trespassers may legally be shot under a number of circumstances in the United States and South Africa. In Britain the rights of landowners have always been more tenuous. Over here, landowners have to think hard before uttering the words: “Get off my land!” if they dare do it at all.

You might wonder why public access to the countryside has been such a bone of contention over the last century, and so time-consuming for the CLA. The proximity of the industrial towns, with their burgeoning populations, to the high moors and fells was the flashpoint for change. Access to the hills became the focus of ideological protest after the First World War, culminating in the great mass trespass in 1932 on the Duke of Devonshire’s land at Kinder Scout, part of the Dark Peak, in which five ramblers were sent to jail for up to six months after an affray with gamekeepers.

The Hobhouse committee set up by the post-war Attlee government recommended in 1947 not only the creation of national parks, but also public access to the open countryside. This led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, in which open country was defined as mountain, moor, heath, down, cliff and foreshore. The amazing thing is that a government otherwise hell-bent on nationalising promised to pay landowners compensation for giving up their right to exclude people from land not on a right of way.

The leaders of the CLA were probably too pressed dealing with the thicket of legislation produced by that Labour Government, which included the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act and the 1947 Agriculture Act, to do more than utter a quick sigh of relief. They did take the lead in urging the Government to write and publicise a Country Code, urging people to kept to footpaths, close gates, keep their dogs under control and put out picnic fires.

The Country Code had to be revised when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 received royal assent. In one of his more brilliant coups-de-theatre Tony Blair appointed Ewen Cameron, now Lord Cameron, a former president of the CLA, to head the Countryside Agency charged with bringing in the new right. It is probably the case that the right came in more sensitively as a result – though the biggest rollbacks came from individual landowners on appeal.

The Greening of Farm Policy
It is a measure of the influence of the CLA that what it has called on governments for the past 25 years to do – replacing subsidies for food production with support for farming aimed at benefiting the wider rural environment and economy – has now come to be the “direction of travel” for the three main parties.

The story of the greening of farm policy is one of the little-known achievements of Britain’s landowning organisation, and it is a story worth telling, not only because it is, perhaps, unexpected, but because it is so seldom told. One reason is the CLA’s sensitive relationship with the National Farmers’ Union, set up in 1908.

The distinction between the two organisations was relatively obvious at the beginning. The CLA, by and large, represented landlords. It began at a disadvantage, and has had to trust to the persuasiveness of its brightest thinkers instead of megaphone diplomacy. The NFU, at the beginning, represented farmers, then overwhelmingly tenants.

Now over 60 percent of CLA members own 100 acres of less, and only 4 percent own 1,000 acres or more. Many farmers and landowners are members of both bodies. But the distinction between the CLA’s outlook and that of the NFU remains. As someone put it: “The NFU are the profit and loss account. The CLA are the balance sheet.”

In other words, the people who arguably worry most about protecting their assets, which also happen to be the country’s and the countryside’s, are those who would like to believe their offspring will be managing them in 50 years time. From the first, the CLA was far closer than the NFU to being an environmental organisation.

For its first 50 years the CLA was largely preoccupied with ownership issues: land nationalisation, land tax, death duties, forestry, the de-rating of agricultural tenancies and the removal of tithes. Then, as now, landowners derived much of their income from outside farming. Indeed, there is some evidence to show that in all but a few boom years of the last century, non-farming activities have produced more income.

The relationship to farming changed, however, in 1947, when landowners were given statutory recognition and new duties as partners in the drive for greater home food production under the Labour government’s Agriculture Act. The priority was growing cheap food for a starving and bankrupt Europe. There began the post-war extension of the dig-for-victory era, which lasted 30 years.

These years saw great changes. Hedges were pulled out, wetlands drained, watercourses dredged and canalised and millions of acres of moorland and permanent pasture were “improved” by farmers with grants from the Ministry of Agriculture, sometimes to the rueful regret of landlords.

The crucial change came in 1973 with UK entry into the Common Market. In Brussels, there was a growing sense that the EU budget was limited. Its finance ministers looked for an excuse to deal with excessive spending of agriculture and the resultant butter and grain mountains and wine, milk and olive oil lakes.

Around the early 1980s the CLA became, by reason of its culture, the purveyor of solutions to a political class that had decided things could not go on as they were. A recurrent theme among progressive landowners and leaders of the CLA was the feeling that: “I think I’m damn good at what I do. If my neighbour farms very badly, but you continue subsidising him to farm in that way, you will eventually put me out of business.” Then as now, the CLA’s predisposition was towards the classical Anglo-American case for free enterprise and free trade.

In the late 1980s the CLA published a paper which argued that public subsidy purely for production should be switched to a menu of environmental services. At the time I wondered how realistic they were, and whether anyone was listening.

It turns out they were pushing at an open door in MAFF. Reform started in the second half of the 1980s with the Alure (Agriculture, Land Use and the Rural Environment/Economy) package, the abolition of production grants, the creation of environmentally sensitive areas, the Farm Woodland Scheme and the subtle introduction of the “duty clause” in the 1986 Agriculture Act, which meant the ministers had for the first time to have regard to the wider rural economy, the enjoyment of the countryside by the people, and the rural environment. The support of the CLA gave the ministers of the time confidence to push the measures through.

When you look back to the late 1980s today, agricultural reform seems to have moved at a glacial pace. Environmental groups would argue that vastly more money needs to be moved from Pillar I, production support, to Pillar II, environment and rural development. But the developed world has accepted the argument that there should be free trade in agricultural goods and protection of the environment. And all who love the countryside can thank the CLA for its part in winning that argument.

This is an edited version of a series of articles written by Charles Clover to mark the centenary of the CLA.
Charles Clover is an environmental journalist, author, and columnist for The Sunday Times.

Planning and Conservation – the state weighs in
A J P Taylor wrote that before 1914 a law-abiding Englishman had little contact with the state. He could travel without a passport, own a weapon and, on his own land, shoot almost anything he liked and build what he wished.

This is the world into which the CLA was born in 1907. That the world has changed so much since is testament not only to the tightening grip of the state, but also to the growth of an increasingly wealthy middle class. The latter competed for the land previously under the control of aristocratic landowners, and had the time and resources to develop an interest in planning, animal welfare and nature conservation.

A pre-1914 landowner might find Parliament telling him he must sell land. That came with the increasing role of the state in providing public infrastructure. But by and large it did not tell him how to build on land he owned. That came with the post-war Attlee government and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, the birth of the modern planning system.

The report of Lord Justice Scott’s committee, produced in 1942, had recommended that all new building should be in existing settlements unless there was some overwhelming reason why it should be in open countryside. Another of Scott’s recommendations was that fertile land should be retained in agricultural use. This, a novel idea at the time, was emphasised in the CLA’s evidence.

In case the 20th century looks like a story of constant encroachment of private rights by the state, it is worth celebrating one high water mark, Crichel Down. Crichel Down, near Wimborne in Dorset, was 300 acres of land owned by Mary Anna Marten. The land had been compulsorily purchased in 1937 as a bombing range for the Air Ministry. When it was no longer needed after the war, it was not offered back to the family, as it should have been by policy agreed by the Government at the time at the instigation of the CLA, but was passed to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who found a new tenant.

Eventually, after local feeling had been whipped up, the press enlisted, and political connections utilised, Parliament came to realise that a major injustice had been perpetrated. The Conservative Minister of Agriculture, Sir Thomas Dugdale, was forced to order a public inquiry. The Martens got their land back.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Gloria Vanderbilt dies at age 95

Gloria Vanderbilt, New York artist, model, heiress and socialite, dies at 95
Son Anderson Cooper says she lived life ‘on her own terms’

Obituary: Gloria Vanderbilt, 1924-2019
Victoria Bekiempis and agencies in New York
Mon 17 Jun 2019 18.29 BST First published on Mon 17 Jun 2019 15.42 BST

Gloria Vanderbilt, an American heiress who became a successful model, designer, writer and artist, has died, her son Anderson Cooper announced on Monday on CNN. She was 95.

 “Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman who loved life and lived it on her own terms,” Cooper said. “She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her and they’d tell you she was the youngest person they knew – the coolest and most modern.”
Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt was born on 24 February 1924 and lived a storied life from infancy. Her father was the renowned rake Reginald Vanderbilt, the great-grandson of the railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Her mother, who married in her teens, was more of a party girl than an attentive parent.

When Gloria was 18 months old, her father died of cirrhosis of the liver, aged just 45. She received a $5m trust fund which her mother used to fund a lavish socialite lifestyle full of travel and affairs.

 I always feel that something wonderful is going to happen. And it always does
Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria’s paternal aunt, the sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art, ultimately sued for custody of the little girl, resulting in her becoming the most famous American child of her time. The 1934 trial in the case became a tabloid sensation trial that resulted in Gloria being called a “poor little rich girl” amid bitter family drama.

 “For five hours Mrs Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt … listened to a tight-lipped nurse denounce her with virtual relish as a cocktail-crazed dancing mother, a devotee of sex erotica and the mistress of a German prince … it was a blistering tale no skin lotion could soothe,” Town & Country reported.

The courtroom devolved into chaos when a French maid testified that “Mrs Vanderbilt was in bed reading a paper and there was [the royal] Lady Milford Haven beside the bed with her arm around Mrs Vanderbilt’s neck and kissing her just like a lover”.

The judge ejected the press. After seven weeks of testimony, he awarded custody to Whitney.

In 2016, Vanderbilt told the Associated Press the “poor little rich girl” moniker “bothered me enormously … I didn’t see any of the press, the newspapers were kept from me. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t feel poor and I didn’t feel rich. It really did influence me enormously to make something of my life when I realized what it meant.”

Her foray into the world of fashion started at age 15 as a Harper’s Bazaar model and at 17, after spending seven years with the “rigid” Gertrude, she moved to Hollywood. Vanderbilt dated stars and vowed to marry the aviation and movie mogul Howard Hughes, but instead wed his press agent, Pasquale di Cicco. The marriage caused Whitney to write Gloria out of her will.

Gloria, who came into her trust at age 21, in 1945, wound up divorcing Di Cicco, claiming routine beatings. One day later she married a 63-year-old conductor, Leopold Stokowski. They had two sons and their marriage lasted a decade.

Her next two marriages were to the film director Sidney Lumet and the writer Wyatt Emory Cooper. Other romances included Frank Sinatra, whom she described as “kind of just the most amazing person in my life”, Errol Flynn and Marlon Brando.

“I’ve had many, many loves,” Vanderbilt told the Associated Press in 2004. “I always feel that something wonderful is going to happen. And it always does.”

Vanderbilt married Lumet in 1956 and lived with him and her children in a 10-room duplex penthouse on Gracie Square in New York. She divorced him to marry Cooper in 1963. Their elder son, Carter, a Princeton graduate and editor at American Heritage, killed himself in 1988 at age 23, leaping from his mother’s 14th-floor apartment as she tried to stop him.

Vanderbilt’s fame increased dramatically in the late 1970s, when she partnered with the clothing-maker Mohan Murjani to sell designer jeans that featured her name on the back pockets – a move that earned $10m in 1980, Bloomberg noted. After her success in designer jeans, Vanderbilt branched out into shoes, scarves, table and bed linens, designer fragrances and china, through her company, Gloria Concepts.

Her wide-ranging career also included art, as well as memoir and fiction writing. At 85 she wrote an erotic novel called Obsession which told the story of a woman becoming obsessed with her deceased husband’s relationship with a dominatrix. Excerpts leaked to a tabloid sent shockwaves through the New York elite.

The New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser described the 143-page book as “pure, elegant, unadulterated smut” that could be “easily read with one hand”. But Vanderbilt told the New York Times she wasn’t embarrassed at all.

“I don’t think age has anything to do with what you write about,” she said. “The only thing that would embarrass me is bad writing, and the only thing that really concerned me was my children. You know how children can be about their parents. But mine are very intelligent and supportive.”

Cooper was also unfazed.

“I’m often surprised by my mom but am always supportive of anything she does,” the CNN anchor said. “She’s totally unique and cool.”

Friday 14 June 2019

Two times Cristopher Sykes ...

This Is My Half of the Castle: The Eccentric Living Arrangements of Aristocrats

Having a big house helps keep your problems hidden from the outside world: The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk occupied different wings of their stately home while separated.

Tom Sykes
Updated 04.13.17 3:07PM ET / Published 08.25.16 1:00AM ET

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast
Like many aristocratic couples of their generation, my paternal grandfather, the writer Christopher Sykes, and his wife, Camilla, née Russell, had separate bedrooms.

Camilla was a famous beauty in her youth and when I knew her, in her 70s, she still proudly asserted her right to look fabulous. Her room at their substantial house in a small Dorset village—where they had moved in 1952, having no further use for the city after the king died—was an Aladdin’s cave of jewelry, powders, perfume, pills, shoes, and foreign clothing piled high on elegant mother of pearl-inlaid tables and overflowing from lacquered chests of drawers.

She entertained visitors, including her husband, on an upholstered love seat, a sofa that resembled two armchairs joined together but facing each other, thereby forcing you to stare straight into her eyes when sitting on it.

Christopher, a writer who was famous for his love of what in 1980s England was still considered to be an eccentric French pastry, a mysterious thing called a croissant—vast quantities of which were bought at a specialist baker in London and frozen; not for nothing did we call him Fat Grandpa—had a separate bedroom lined with his beloved history books.

He would sometimes emerge from here in the evenings wearing a glamorous silk dressing gown. His own room was tidy and very, very male. He couldn’t have borne to be surrounded by Camilla’s fripperies. They both had separate dressing rooms as well.

The separate bedrooms were a simple acknowledgement of the fact that, although married, they liked their own space too.

However, I think even they would have drawn the line at the living arrangements of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, who have spent the past five years of their life living in separate wings of the 11th-century Arundel Castle after their relationship hit a rough patch. Georgina stayed in the more homey west wing, long the family home, while Edward decamped several hundred yards to the more Spartan east wing, which had been used to house staff in days gone by.

Happily, the duke has now moved back into the west wing, rejoining his wife—the queen, a close friend, is said by the Mail on Sunday to be “delighted” at the rapprochement—although after all those years of enjoying their own space, it would be a fair bet that they are still sleeping in separate bedrooms.

For the Norfolks, their dispersal around Arundel Castle was a way to live separate lives while avoiding the trauma of divorce, which they refused to consider for both practical and religious reasons. The Norfolks are among the most senior lay Catholics in the otherwise largely Protestant United Kingdom.

They nobly refused an invitation to the royal wedding of William and Kate, as they did not wish to hypocritically sit next to each other.

However, the banishment of one’s partner (or their own voluntary exile) to a dower house or distant section of the building is by no means a foible unique to the Northumberlands. It is a well-documented part of upper class British life.

A similar situation developed in the case of an Irish aristocrat I know. In this case the wife remained in the big house while the husband, who suffered from severe depression, moved into the gate lodge at the bottom of the drive.

“What are we supposed to do?” the châtelaine told me when explaining the developments a few years ago. “There’s no sense getting divorced, or there will be nothing left for the kids.”

She started an affair with a musician quite openly and encouraged her husband to do something similar. He did not, and has since died. Out of the tragedy, a glimmer of salvation is that the estate has been successfully preserved for her children.

The sheer size of most stately homes allows for troubled marriages to be given time and space to heal—or not heal—without outsiders being any the wiser.

And the tradition of separate bedrooms for the master and mistress of the house provides a useful cover behind which to hide marital breakdown. While not as completely standard as some reports suggest, separate rooms were certainly very common before World War II in any sizable house, even when the relationship was untroubled.

Marie Stopes, writing in 1918, advised provision of a single bed “in a nearby dressing room for when either of the partners desires solitude.”

The custom has even made its way into fiction: In Downton Abbey, occasional references are made to the fact that Lord Grantham has his own room, even though he usually sleeps in Cora’s bed.

The queen and Prince Philip observed the habit of sleeping in separate rooms—a fact that was only made public after an intruder broke into the queen’s bedroom in the most shocking security lapse at Buckingham Palace on record.

The break-in was said to have been facilitated by the fact that the queen insists on sleeping with the windows open—Philip prefers the windows closed, hence his desire for his own room.

Prince Charles and Camilla have separate bedrooms at Highgrove, Charles’s house, but Camilla goes one step further and has kept her own family house, which predates her marriage to Charles and to which Charles is not, as a rule, invited. It’s very much “her place,” say sources.

There is evidence that, as many of the middle classes now occupy houses of comparable size to small manor houses, they are starting to emulate this aristocratic habit. According to one survey, some 9 percent of married (or partnered) British couples now sleep in separate rooms. In Japan, the figure is 28 percent.

My grandparents would certainly have approved.

Christopher Hugh Sykes FRSL (17 November 1907 – 8 December 1986) was an English author. Born into a well-off northern English landowning family, he was the second son of the diplomat Sir Mark Sykes (1879–1919), and his wife, Edith (née Gorst). His sister was Angela Sykes, the sculptor. His uncle, also Christopher Sykes, was, for a time, a close friend of Edward VII.

Educated at Downside School and Christ Church, Oxford, Sykes was, for a time in his youth, in the Foreign Office, including a stint as an attaché (1928–29) in the British Embassy in Berlin, where Harold Nicolson was then Counsellor. This was followed by a year (1930–31) at the British Legation in Teheran. An early hero was Aubrey Herbert, remembered now as the man who inspired John Buchan's classic thriller, Greenmantle.

Though Sykes thought of making politics his career, his stammer and also his artistic and imaginative disposition indicated that political life was not for him. At the School of Oriental Studies in London, he devoted himself to Persian studies in 1933 before travelling in Central Asia during 1933–34 with Robert Byron, who later wrote The Road to Oxiana recounting their long expedition in what was then an almost unexplored country. In the book, Byron states that Sykes was given an order to leave Persia, but they could negotiate that he leaves via Afghanistan with Byron.

On their return to England, Sykes and Byron wrote a novel together under the name of Richard Waughburton, Innocence and Design, published in 1935. A little later, Sykes and Cyril Connolly planned a book with the title of The Little Voice. In common with other projects of Connolly's, the book never got beyond the planning stages. Sykes published in 1936 a biography of the German Persianist Wilhelm Wassmus; he did not, during later years, include this volume in his list of his publications. A memoir of Byron, killed at sea in 1941, was included in Sykes' best-selling book, Four Studies in Loyalty.

Sykes had an eventful war. Having held, like his famous father, a Territorial Army commission in The Green Howards in 1927–30, he was commissioned in 1939 as a reserve officer in the regiment's newly formed 7th Battalion. In June 1940, Sykes joined SO1 (later Special Operations Executive [SOE]), where he was personal assistant to Colonel Cudbert Thornhill. In October 1941, Sykes was sent out to Tehran as Deputy Director of Special Propaganda (DDSP) under diplomatic cover (Second Secretary at the British Legation) in the aftermath of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, where he remained until November 1942, when he was transferred to Cairo. Out of a job because his department had been wound up, Sykes found time to write a light novel, High Minded Murder (1944), something of a roman à clef, set in wartime Cairo where Graham Greene's sister Elizabeth was living(Sykes mentions Greene himself in his biography of Waugh). Meanwhile, after failing to find any position as an intelligence officer in the Middle East, Sykes returned to the UK in May 1943, volunteered for the Special Air Service (SAS), and was posted to the Commando Training Depot at Achnacarry Castle, Invernesshire on 1 July 1943. As an SAS officer, Sykes, who spoke fluent French but could not pass as a native, undertook extremely hazardous work with the French Resistance: an experience which, like his friendship with Byron, was depicted in Four Studies in Loyalty (dedicated to the town of Vosges), this time in that book's last chapter.

Nowadays Sykes is especially remembered for his biography of his friend Evelyn Waugh, whom he met after the success of Waugh's Vile Bodies. He introduced Waugh to the socialite Diana Cooper, aka Lady Stitch. He praised Brideshead, Waugh's Catholic epic (the two were both Catholics, but with the notable difference—mentioned by Waugh's son Auberon when reviewing Sykes's book in the November 1975 issue of Books and Bookmen – that whereas Waugh converted to Roman Catholicism in his twenties, Sykes was a cradle Catholic) though admitting to his dislike of the character Julia Flyte. Sykes makes some interesting comparisons between scenes in Waugh's books and those of William M Thackeray - the fox hunting scene in a Handful of Dust is compared to that in Barry Lyndon.

Sykes is also remembered to a lesser extent, for his history of the British Mandate of Palestine, Crossroads to Israel (1965). He also wrote several books of fiction and lives of Orde Wingate (published 1959 - Sykes drew attention to Wingate as the possible basis for Waugh's character Brigadier Ritchie Hook in The Sword of Honour trilogy, in his biography of Waugh) the general sometimes known as the "Lawrence of Judea" (a phrase that Wingate deplored); Lady Astor, who, born in Virginia, was one of the first women to sit in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom; and Adam von Trott zu Solz, executed following his part in the failed 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler.

After 1945 Sykes worked for many years in BBC Radio, where he helped to get Waugh's broadcast on P G Wodehouse, who was captured in Le Touquet by the Germnas, on air, as well as writing for several British and American periodicals, including The New Republic, The Spectator, Books and Bookmen, The Observer and the short-lived English Review Magazine. He was invested as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[citation needed]

Marriage and family
He married Camilla Georgiana, daughter of Sir Thomas Wentworth Russell (great-grandson of the 6th Duke of Bedford)[4] on 25 October 1936.Their son, Mark Richard Sykes (born 9 June 1937), by his second marriage, is father to six children including New York-based fashion writer and novelist Plum Sykes. The writer and photographer, Christopher Simon Sykes, is a nephew.[citation needed] Writer/journalist Tom Sykes is a grandson.

Christopher Simon Skyes
In 1975, Christopher Simon Sykes received a phone call from Mick Jagger, a personal friend, inviting him to document the Rolling Stones on their upcoming 40-show Tour Of The Americas ’75, a.k.a T.OT.A. ‘75 . According to Sykes, “’I had absolutely free and total access. I was in a very privileged position because I’d come to keep a diary, I’d been recommended by Rupert Lowenstein and I knew Mick. I was more of a friend than a rock photographer.” Sykes dove head first into the assignment by photographing every aspect of the tour, keeping a daily diary, even collecting memorabilia such as backstage passes, the tour manager’s newsletters, even hotel keys. The resulting photographs are an insider’s view of the grueling and infamously decadent life on the road for ‘The Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band in the World’.
The tour proved just as exhausting for Sykes as it did for the Stones. Returning to England, Sykes shifted his focus to what has become a lifelong project: photographing the UK’s great country homes and gardens, including his own family estate, Sledmere House. Sykes is a regular contributor to House & Garden, World of Interiors, Vogue and author of several noteworthy books.

Sledmere House is a Grade I listed Georgian country house, containing Chippendale, Sheraton and French furnishings and many fine pictures, set within a park designed by Capability Brown.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahník at the Wallace Collection / 10 June – 1 September 2019

10 June – 1 September 2019
Free entry
In June 2019, the Wallace Collection and Manolo Blahník will present An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahník at the Wallace Collection. The exhibition features a personally selected edit of shoe designs from Blahník’s private archives set amongst the masterpieces of the Wallace Collection. This exciting venture juxtaposes an icon from the world of contemporary fashion with Wallace’s outstanding collection that has been an inspiration to artists since it opened to the public in 1900.

A rare opportunity to see excellence in contemporary design alongside the exceptional quality of the Wallace Collection’s own art works. 

Partnership between Manolo Blahník and the Wallace Collection

Free - no need to book!
Manolo Blahník Talk Series
The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting programme of evening panel discussions.
– Monday 17 June – Goya and Shoes - SOLD OUT!
– Monday 1 July – The Classical Influence in Art and Design - SOLD OUT!
– Monday 8 July – Fashion or Art?
– Tuesday 9 July – Fashion and Power
– Wednesday 10 July – The Collector
– Monday 15 July – The Interior World

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Getting Dressed in the 18th Century - Men

Throughout the period, men continued to wear the coat, waistcoat and breeches of the previous period. However, changes were seen in both the fabric used as well as the cut of these garments. More attention was paid to individual pieces of the suit, and each element underwent stylistic changes. Under new enthusiasms for outdoor sports and country pursuits, the elaborately embroidered silks and velvets characteristic of "full dress" or formal attire earlier in the century gradually gave way to carefully tailored woollen "undress" garments for all occasions except the most formal. This more casual style reflected the dominating image of "nonchalance." The goal was to look as fashionable as possible with seemingly little effort. This was to be the new, predominant mindset of fashion.

The skirts of the coat narrowed from the gored styles of the previous period. Waistcoats extended to mid-thigh to the 1770s and then began to shorten. Waistcoats could be made with or without sleeves.

As in the previous period, a loose, T-shaped silk, cotton or linen gown called a banyan was worn at home as a sort of dressing gown over the shirt, waistcoat, and breeches. Men of an intellectual or philosophical bent were painted wearing banyans, with their own hair or a soft cap rather than a wig.

A coat with a wide collar called a frock coat, derived from a traditional working-class coat, was worn for hunting and other country pursuits in both Britain and America.

Shirt and stock
Shirt sleeves were full, gathered at the wrist and dropped shoulder. Full-dress shirts had ruffles of fine fabric or lace, while undress shirts ended in plain wrist bands.[2]

Breeches, shoes, and stockings
Knee-length breeches fitted snugly and had a fall-front opening.

Low-heeled leather shoes fastened with buckles were worn with silk or woollen stockings. Boots were worn for riding. The buckles were either polished metal, usually in silver—sometimes with the metal cut into false stones in the Paris style—or with paste stones, although there were other types. These buckles were often quite large and one of the world's largest collections can be seen at Kenwood House.

Hairstyles and headgear
Wigs were worn for formal occasions, or the hair was worn long and powdered, brushed back from the forehead and "clubbed" (tied back at the nape of the neck) with a black ribbon. Wigs were generally now short, but long wigs continued to be popular with the older generation. Wigs were made with a lot of white powder.

Wide-brimmed hats turned up on three sides called "cocked hats"—called tricorns in later eras—were worn in mid-century.

The macaroni
The trend of the macaroni grew out of the tradition of those who partook of the Grand Tour. Elite men in the 18th century would travel abroad across Europe, namely Italy, to broaden their cultural depth. These men adopted foreign fashions and tastes and brought them back to England where they interpreted them further. The original macaroni of the 1760s was characterized by elaborate dress consisting of short and tight trousers, large wigs, delicate shoes and small hats. As the general population of English males became exposed to the luxurious appeal of the macaroni trend, they began to adopt and replicate the trends they saw. By the 1770s, any man could appear as if they themselves had been on the Grand Tour-based solely on their outward appearance.

The macaroni and the subsequent imitators were criticized for being gender ambiguous and effeminate. Frequently, the macaroni fashion trend was the subject of satirical caricatures and pamphlets. Their large costume like wigs and short coats, which deeply contrasted the masculine British dress of the time, were ridiculed for their frivolity and were said to be threatening the stability of gender difference, thereby undermining the nation's reputation. The question of farce and inauthenticity comes into play as well because by dressing as a macaroni, one claimed the status and the means of an elite who went on the Grand Tour.

Although many mocked the macaroni for their outwardly eccentric characteristics, some celebrated them for their commitment to the demonstration of personal identity. The idea of a unique character was becoming an important concept that spanned many types of media including books and prints as Britain wanted to distinguish itself from France.

Saturday 8 June 2019

GANT | Heritage | Changing the course of American Fashion

In 2019, GANT is celebrating 70 years as a premium preppy American Sportswear brand. From creating superior quality shirts in 1949 to building a full wardrobe of American Sportswear icons over the past seven decades, GANT has evolved into becoming one of the most influential brands within its field. Embarking on this anniversary year, the brand is celebrating its heritage by honoring the sportswear icons and paying tribute to its curious culture, defined by the credo Never Stop Learning.

The curious mindset is an integral part of GANT’s DNA, and leads all the way back to the company’s founding 70 years ago on the American East Coast universities. Over the past seven decades, the brand has driven product innovation by reinventing, refining and perfecting the American Sportswear icons. The Button-Down Shirt, the Club Blazer, the Chino Pant, the Piqué, the Heavy Rugger, the GANT Varsity Jacket, and the Cable Knit have all been crucial building blocks in the brand’s 70-year long success story. Introduced on the American East Coast, these icons have been polished into more sophisticated versions of themselves through their adoption into Europe.

From 7th until 14th of each month February, March, April, May, August, September and October they will offer double points on their loyalty program for each icon product bought.

Seven Decades Seven Icons is released globally on 7th February as part of a year-long celebration.