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Lesley Blanch (1904–2007)

Author of The Wilder Shores of Love

Includes the names: Lesley Blanch, Leslie Blanch, Ed. Lesley Blanch, Lesley Ed: Blanch

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Lesley Blanch was born in Chiswick, west London, to unconventional and cultivated parents. She developed an early passion for Russia, inspired by someone she called "the traveller," a family friend and later her lover. She attended St. Paul's Girls' School and then the Slade School. She became an illustrator, artist, and journalist. In 1932, she made the first of her five or six trips to Russia. In the mid-1930s, she went to work at British Vogue, where she served as features editor covering theatre, books, art, and people. After marrying early and divorcing, in 1945 she married the Russian-born French writer and diplomat Romain Gary. She accompanied him on postings to Sofia, Bern, New York, and Los Angeles. She also continued to travel alone in Mexico, the Balkans, Siberia, the Caucasus, central Asia, the Middle East, India, and elsewhere. In 1954, she published her first book, The Wilder Shores of Love, which became a worldwide bestseller and has never gone out of print. It describes the lives of four 19th-century European women -- Isabel Burton, Jane Digby, Aimée Dubucq de Rivery. and Isabelle Eberhardt -- who found adventure and love in travel. Her other vividly-written books included The Game of Hearts, Under a Lilac-Bleeding Star, The Nine Tiger Man, Journey Into the Mind's Eye, and The Sabres of Paradise. In the 1970s, she bought a house in the south of France, which she named Kuçuk Teppe ("little hill" in Turkish) and furnished with the treasures of her extraordinary travels. Tragically, the house and most of its contents were destroyed by fire in 1994. The French media lionized her, and her 12 books were often republished. She was named an MBE and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She remained a glamorous figure well into old age.
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