caroline blackwood


Lady Caroline Blackwood (1931–1996), an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, known for her wry macabre novels and essays, as well as for her high-profile marriages, first to Lucian Freud, then to composer Israel Citkowitz and finally to poet Robert Lowell, who described her as “a mermaid who dines upon the bones of her winded lovers”.

Ann Fleming, wife of “James Bond” author Ian Fleming, introduced Lady Caroline to Lucian Freud, and the two eloped to Paris in 1952. She sat for several of Freud’s finest portraits, including Girl In Bed, Girl in a Green Dress and Girl Reading.

It has been as though there were deep inside me some great festering wound, as if I had rolled some great stone over it (to pretend it wasn’t there) and thus I went on half alive. And now that I know you still love me and are waiting, the wound is purifying and draining. I am alive again.
—  Robert Lowell, from a letter to Caroline Blackwood c. January 1954

At one of these evenings my mother was introduced to a young, intense, and compellingly handsome painter. She already knew of Lucian Freud because somebody had brought him to her coming-out party. He had gotten extremely drunk and while trying to steady himself he had tripped over Princess Margaret. The princess had not been amused.

Lucian had escaped to England with his parents from Nazi Germany when he was ten and he spoke with a low, seductive, German accent. Lucian was the grandson of the celebrated psychoanalyst and was just beginning to establish himself as an artist.

My mother was immediately captivated. He was attractive, intelligent, and different from anyone else she had met. He also had all the qualities that she knew would most horrify her mother. Lucian was still married. He was impoverished. And he was Jewish. He was absolutely unsuitable in every way, and therefore he couldn’t have been more perfect. He would become her first husband.

—  Ivana Lowell, Why Not Say What Happened

The Lady Caroline Maureen Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, writer, artist’s muse, and the eldest child of the 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava and the brewery heiress Maureen Guinness, was born on this day in 1931 at her parent’s home at 4 Hans Crescent in Knightsbridge, London.

“Caroline Blackwood wrote ten books of fiction and nonfiction, one of which, Great Granny Webster, was nominated for the Booker Prize. But the “dark fairy tale” that obsessed her for the longest time—indeed for fifteen years—starred Maître Suzanne Blum, the wily, confrontational, “necrophiliac” lawyer who presided over the last decade of the almost lifeless Duchess of Windsor, locked away, bedridden behind the shutters of her villa in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, under the Maître’s jealous and sinister control.”
– James Fox from his introduction to THE LAST OF THE DUCHESS