Literature: the fascinating and scandalous story of Churchill’s last love, courtesan Doris Delevingne

Doris Delevingne, courtesan of the Roaring Twenties, has a story of a few months or a few years with “the old lion”. He died of poverty.

How did you meet Doris Delevingne, the trendy London courtesan in the Roaring Twenties?

I discovered his name I didn’t know in a book at the Guggenheim museum in Venice. Doris is one of three unique owners of Palazzo Venier located on the Grand Canal. Lady Castelrosse, née Delevingne, leaves some clues, no doubt because she did not build except to spend her life overthrowing men. She’s a romantic, fun, very free, shocking girl, a real petrolhead.

Stunning beauty in her false air of Greta Garbo, she was until the start of World War II, one of the most fashionable women in high society.

Already, as a little girl, she dreams of becoming Queen of London and wife of an aristocrat …

From the middle class, he wanted to climb the social ladder. He has a complete denial of justice and nothing is forbidden. Debauchery is very nice for him. He sleeps for pleasure, it is flesh that explodes; she loves jewelry, clothes, and refuses to be bored. She didn’t ask herself any other questions, “An Englishwoman’s bed is her kingdom”, so was her motto. If she finally gets her dream, to marry an aristocrat, in this case Viscount Castelrosse whom she loves in her own way, she will continue her life as a courtesan.

Impossible to count the list of his lovers, I stopped at the foremost, Tom Mitford, Cecil Beaton, father and son Churchills… He slept with everyone moving in the confused 20s where many parties in high society ended with sexual orgies. He is without a doubt the most scandalous of all my stars. But she was also a woman with a big heart, sentimental, who went through the dance of life until falling …

What do we know about his relationship with Winston Churchill?

This relationship is based on the 1985 testimony of Churchill’s former private secretary, and on love letters discovered by one of his literary assistants. The meeting with Doris took place in 1933, Churchill was 58 years old, everyone left him and knew the deep desert crossing.

She’s on the Côte d’Azur, she’s painting, and she sees this “hottie” arrive, stepping on high heels, with her endless legs … She can’t resist. He was crazy about love. Historians believe their relationship would have lasted 3 or 4 years, I don’t believe it; for me, a maximum of a year and a half. Because, from 1934, Churchill, amazed at Hitler’s rise, became Lord of the war. Nothing else mattered in his life.

What intrigues you the most about femme fatales?

I love their scandalous and glamorous side, their femininity. All these women whose fortunes I speak of have had strange and often miserable lives; what I like is this unstoppable aspect of the wheel of fortune. Usually women fall after climbing the peaks, it’s interesting.

These women totally make me dream, they will always be forgotten because the world no longer likes women. I, I adore them, for what I seek is a dream, they are like the wings of incandescent butterflies that open the door to another world.

A mysterious death

Doris committed suicide in 1942 in Dorchester in London. A refugee in New York in 1940, his life quickly turned into a dream. Alone and abandoned by all, he begged Churchill to take him back to England.

Faced with his rejection, he threatened to reveal their past activity to the world based on three paintings painted by Old Lion in his years earlier.

Old and damaged, he finally returned to his country in 1942. Rejected and accused of betraying the high society of London traumatized by the Blitz, he died less than a month later. No one knows where the three paintings are now.

“Doris, Churchill’s Secret” (Albin Michel edition, 21, 90 €, 283 pages).

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