1970s. Lesley Blanch photographed by Henry Clarke © Henry Clarke Estate
As Joe Boyd writes in THE GUARDIAN: "There is something of a cult around Lesley Blanch. Philip Mansel, author of Constantinople and other works of historical scholarship, calls her 'not a school, a trend, or a fashion, but a true original'."
A scholarly romantic, Lesley Blanch has influenced and inspired generations of writers, readers and critics. Her first book, The Wilder Shores Of Love, pioneered a new kind of group biography focusing on women escaping the boredom of convention, and has remained in print in English since original publication in 1954. If you are not familiar with her world, you can get a taste of her life and work as you browse. She is one of the last of a breed who knew something of the Middle East as it once was, before conflict and turmoil became the essence of relations between the Arab World and the West.
Arriving at the front gate of her home, steps wind upwards through a green tunnel of leaves, leading to a dreamlike inner sanctum. The terraced garden is like an extension of the house, with outside rooms for different times of day. Lesley Blanch has always lived amidst a harmonious assembly of esoteric objects from distant corners of the earth, and is admired by her friends for her decorative flair. She likes to juxtapose a quirky mix of objects found somewhere out of the ordinary. Her rooms once vibrated with "bargains and insane extravagances — a traveller's haul" of the rich and the strange. You can get a feel for her environment from a selection of photos from her archive as you view.
1950s. Lesley Blanch in the Sahara when writing 'The Wilder Shores Of Love' © Lesley Blanch Archive
CLICK PLAY BUTTON on bar below to hear interview
Twenty Minutes, BBC Radio 3, February 2007. Lesley Blanch talks to Teresa Cherfas about her love of Russia and of the mysterious family friend whom she referred to as The Traveller. Although to some it may seem that Blanch excelled in magnifying her own peculiarities to become larger than life, even mythic, in fact she was always true to herself. The people and events associated with her absolutely did exist and take place. Her private life was so inaccessible as to be virtually unimaginable. Blanch gave this interview the day after coming out of hospital – she died a few months later aged 103.
In Memoriam. Lesley Blanch died in her sleep in the early hours of Monday 7 May 2007. Since this website was created with her approval and full cooperation, its core content is being left as it was first published online in 2006.
Copyright for all images is held by the respective artist or estate and they may not be reproduced in any form without express permission. All rights reserved.
Site compiled and edited by Georgia de Chamberet at BookBlast Ltd with the co-operation of Lesley Blanch
Special thanks to Susan Train at Condé Nast Publications Inc., for her suggestions and support
Programming and design by Ben Fiagbe at Factor IT Ltd