Biography

MAUREEN CLEAVE, DAILY TELEGRAPH: “A scholarly romantic in a school of her own, the depth of Lesley Blanch’s research is such that other writers plunder her books shamelessly”

THE WILDER SHORES OF LOVE

WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD: “Love, wanderlust, faraway places – all that Romance implies – make up this  make up this delicious book”

NEW YORKER: “Four seething but most enjoyable studies in headlong nonconformity”

GRAHAM LORD, DAILY TELEGRAPH : “Lesley Blanch has a mischievous chuckle, a girlish voice, precise enunciation and claims that The Wilder Shores of Love is popular because it sounds pornographic . . . . She loves the Arab world as much as her subjects did, and is just as romantic and exotic as they were . . . Blanch may be romantic but is never naïve”


THE SABRES OF PARADISE, Conquest and Vengeance in the Caucasus

THE GUARDIAN: “Crammed with truly fabulous stories of fighting and love and violent death . . . this profound and exhilarating book turns the struggle of the people of the Caucasus to remain independent of Russia into a universal saga . . . it is no wonder Shamyl had such a powerful influence on Tolstoy and Pushkin”

LE MONDE: “A magnificent historical drama; a marvellous, impassioned biography of Imam Shamyl”


PIERRE LOTI, Portrait of an Escapist

NOEL PERRIN, WASHINGTON POST: “Anyone who reads this book will have a marvellous time. Lesley Blanch has written an exceptionally good biography of an exceptionally interesting man. Even if you have never heard of Loti until this minute, even if you never plan to read any of his books, I recommend it to you”


THE GAME OF HEARTS, Harriette Wilson and her Memoirs

Harriette Wilson’s actual diaries are in the public domain. Lesley Blanch’s extensive introduction is now published under the title Regency England Undressed: Harriette Wilson, the Greatest Courtesan of her Age.


PAVILIONS OF THE HEART, The Four Walls of Love

The title of this book is taken from an Arab love-song which exhorts the beloved to leave the black tents of her tribe, since she has the Red Pavilion of her lover’s heart. “A light book”, Pavilions of the Heart is about the houses or rooms where great loves have been lived: George Sand and Chopin at Nohant, Liszt at Woronince, et cetera.

Lesley Blanch: “I thought that houses in which people have lived and loved were interesting.”


FARAH, Shahbanou of Iran – Queen of Persia

Lesley Blanch always chose what she wanted to write: this is the only one of her books to have been written on the basis of a commission.

The biography of Farah Diba – from an ancient Azerbaijani family of landowning nobility – who married His Imperial Majesty The Shahanshah of Iran in 1959, it vividly evokes the Shahbanou’s personal family life and public works, set against the historical background of Iran. She, her husband, and their four children went into exile following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

ABEBOOKS.COM: “Lesley Blanch gives a close-up portrait of this young and beautiful woman – a romantic personality who was often called ‘The Working Empress’. She journeyed tirelessly around her country furthering the many cultural, scientific and humanitarian projects in which she is deeply involved”

Read Lesley Blanch writing about The Magic of Iran – part 1 (1965)

Read Lesley Blanch writing about The Magic of Iran – part 2 (1965)

Biography. Collins, 1978 160pp illus. (OP)