Media Release Far To Go and Many To Love: People and Places

far to go many to love lesley blanch press release

Far To Go and Many To Love: People and Places is the sequel to the memoirs of Lesley Blanch, published posthumously by Virago, On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life. Available for the first time as a paperback and an e-book.

The collection opens with an insightful introduction about her two great loves: émigré theatre director, Theodore Komisarjevsky, and twice-Goncourt-winning novelist, Romain Gary. Her impressions of people and places have an enduring intensity and she writes of them as vividly as she does her own experiences.

We see rising stars Vivien Leigh and Peter Ustinov in 1940s London; and war reporter Germaine Kanova, the ‘French Lee Miller’; the last great Ruritanian Queen Marie of Rumania in her Balkan setting; and Pierre Loti in Turkey, or rather Loti-land.

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From the Archive Lesley Blanch & Terence Rattigan

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A leading British playwright of the 1940s and 1950s, Terence Rattigan is chiefly remembered today for The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, The Deep Blue Sea and Separate Tables. He also wrote screenplays based on novels, among them Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips . . . and Lesley Blanch’s The Nine Tiger Man.

But the film of Lesley Blanch’s only novel was never completed. According to a letter held in the George Cukor papers at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90211, dated 14 July, 1972, from 20th Century Fox to the film’s director, George Cukor, 20th Century Studios “have 1,500,000 US dollars in charges in the film and would accept a reasonable offer for the property.

The revised final version of Terence Rattigan’s script-screenplay, dated 14 November, 1966, is also in the Margaret Herrick Library – along with Gene Allen’s script-screenplay based on Rattigan’s, dated 5 April, 1967. Gavin Lambert’s script-screenplay is alleged by Hollywood insiders to be the best version but has disappeared and is, as yet, unfound.  

Terence Rattigan said of The Nine Tiger Man: “Romantic, outrageous, savage and comic . . . It is the purest ironic comedy, almost, let’s face it, black.”

It was to be filmed partly at Belvoir Castle Grantham (Rutland).

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From the Archive Lesley Blanch & Ludwig Bemelmans

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Ludwig Bemelmans was an Austrian-born writer and illustrator of children’s books and adult novels (notably the Madeline series: six were published, the first in 1939).

Lesley Blanch often commissioned his work for British  Vogue when she was there working as features editor. Here is one of his humorous, self deprecating letters to her: a wonderfully evocative, idiosyncratic missive.

Note his description of the offices of Victor Gollancz, the publisher and humanitarian who published Ford Madox Ford, George Orwell, Elizabeth Bowen, Daphne du Maurier and Franz Kafka. Gollancz’s wife, Ruth, was an artist who had studied at the Slade School of Art with Lesley Blanch under Henry Tonks.

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From the Archive Lesley Blanch & Cecil Beaton

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Writing letters is becoming a lost art outstripped by emailing, tweeting and the artsy instagraming of personal photos posted for public consumption. Image, image, image: but there’s nothing quite as rich and rewarding as private letter-writing for truly getting to know each other, well out of the spotlight, wherever you may be.

Beaton and Blanch first met in London at British Vogue in the 1940s where she was features editor; again in Hollywood in the 1950s; and they remained lifelong friends.

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Lesley Blanch & Fearless Women of the World

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A pioneering writer and thinker, Lesley Blanch was ahead of her time and prescient in the way she attempted to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern culture.

She wrote about bold women who turned their backs on the constraints and conventions of society, broke the rules, and managed to do their own thing. They are inspiring reminders that throughout history, women have fought to assert themselves as individuals, whereas most men have had the luxury of taking their independence and authority for granted. We still live in a society controlled by men, but you don’t have to play masculine to be a strong woman.

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Feature Lesley Blanch, Red Tape and Blue Pencil: The Autocracy of Film Censorship, April 1945

Red-Tape-and-Blue-Pencil-The-Autocracy-of-Film-Censorship-Lesley-Blanch-The-Leader-April-1945

After leaving British Vogue in 1945, Lesley Blanch freelanced for a year, and was a regular contributor to Edward Hulton’s The Leader (sister publication to Picture Post). She covered film and photography – still relatively new media – and profiled rising stars; Vivien Leigh, Peter Ustinov and Billy Wilder among them. A fellow contributor and friend, Robbie Lantz, later became her agent when they were both living and working in the US. He also took on her husband Romain Gary as a client. Red Tape and Blue Pencil is one of a series of feature articles by Lesley Blanch being republished that originally appeared in 1945.

Although the British Board of Film Censors is a non-Governmental organisation, appointed by the film industry itself, it appears to bask in a glow of complacency which renders it at once unassailable, unapproachable, and uncooperative. It seems to enjoy an atmosphere of sacrosanctity and prerogative almost as strong as that which the Lord Chamberlain’s office in its function as Censor of Plays. Both are, it seems, outside the law; there is no court of appeal; what they say goes.

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News The Lesley Blanch Estate & Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD) Literary Agents

Christmas card sent to friends by Lesley Blanch. Hollywood & Paris, 1961

Greetings to our readers!
It is exciting to announce that the Lesley Blanch estate is now represented by Peters, Fraser & Dunlop.
PFD represents a large number of literary estates of authors of must-read classics . . . including those of Sacheverell Sitwell, Rebecca West, Eric Ambler and Simenon who were friends of Lesley Blanch’s in life.
If you still have not read her memoirs On The Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life, published posthumously by Virago and La Table Ronde, then you’re missing out!

INDEPENDENT: “Sumptuous and captivating”
DAILY TELEGRAPH: “On The Wilder Shores of Love is a truly remarkable book”
STACEY, blogger at IT TAKES A WOMAN: “I rarely read non-fiction books, but when I do, I tend to enjoy reading about women who kick arse, and in Far to Go & Many to Love, Lesley Blanch confirms her membership of this club with her superb, descriptive writing . . . Whether writing about people or places, Lesley Blanch’s writing is arresting and has real life to it – her piece about Vivien Leigh is a particular favourite of mine and, as I said, the whole collection is put together with such love and respect, that it is a fantastic introduction to the work of a remarkable woman”

blanch by beaton and horst
Lesley Blanch by Beaton and Horst

Feature Lesley Blanch, Panto, December 1943

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Panto has been a unique feature of the British Christmas season for centuries – even when Britain was at War – until the Covid 19 pandemic forced theatres to close their doors. A few months ago hundreds of protesters – including about half-a-dozen pantomime dames – gathered in Westminster to protest against the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although you can’t see a performance in person, Peter Duncan has responded to the lack of pantomimes around this Christmas in British theatres by filming a production of Jack And The Beanstalk.

To get in the mood, this feature by Lesley Blanch, originally published in British Vogue in December 1943, brings alive the joyful fun and fantasy of this very British tradition.

It’s always On the Road to the Middle of Next Week: unless it’s Nowhere in Particular, with Past Events casting their Shadows before. It’s the Enchanted Cavern, the Flying Palace, the Wicked Wood, the Widow Twankey’s Kitchen, or the Fairies’ Home in the Heart of the Rose . . . It’s the Pork-Butcher’s Shop, It’s the Magic Transformation Scene, It’s the Harlequinade — in short, it’s the Christmas Pantomime.

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Feature Lesley Blanch, Film Orientations, August 1945

After leaving British Vogue in 1945, Lesley Blanch freelanced for a year, and was a regular contributor to Edward Hulton’s The Leader (sister publication to Picture Post). She covered film and photography – still relatively new media – and profiled rising stars; Vivien Leigh, Peter Ustinov and Billy Wilder among them. A fellow contributor and friend, Robbie Lantz, later became her agent when they were both living and working in the US. He also took on her husband Romain Gary as a client. Film Orientations is the first in a series of feature articles by Lesley Blanch being republished that originally appeared in 1945.

Since I wrote some weeks back, on the manner in which one nation presents another on the screen, so many people have written asking my views on Western versions of the East, that I shall go into the question more fully, here and now.

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