The Lives of Beryl Markham: Out of Africa's Hidden Free Spirit and Denys Finch Hatton's Last Great Love

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9780393035568: The Lives of Beryl Markham: Out of Africa's Hidden Free Spirit and Denys Finch Hatton's Last Great Love
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A biography of the Englishwoman known for her 1936 transatlantic solo flight describes her sexual adventures, three marriages, and pursuit of Denys Finch Hatton, whose relationship with Isak Dinesen was captured in Out of Africa.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A biography that reluctantly digs the dirt--and there's an awful lot of it--on famed Kenyan-born aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly the Atlantic and once the presumed author of the bestselling West with the Night. Long-time Kenya resident Trzebinski (The Kenya Pioneers, 1986; Silence will Speak, 1978), who knew Markham, draws on letters, diaries, and copious interviews to tell his subject's story. Throughout, we're reminded of Markham's difficult childhood: Abandoned by her wealthy English mother at age two, young Beryl was left to be raised by her father, his mistress, and the Africans on their farm. Markham received little formal education and even fewer notions of conventional piety and morality, but her father did teach her to ride and train horses, a skill that would provide her with a living throughout her life. But despite Trzebinski's patronizing plea that Markham's behavior was affected by her being more African than European, the aviatrix proved to be single-minded and often cruel in pursuit of what she wanted. She abandoned three husbands, one son, and numerous lovers (the Prince of Wales and his younger brother each became her lover while visiting Kenya); she betrayed friends like Karen Blixen, whose great love, Denys Finch Hatton, she seduced behind Blixen's back; and she never admitted that her third husband, Hollywood screenwriter Raoul Schumacher, wrote West with the Night. Trzebinski's evidence for all this is well documented and very persuasive--but to balance the heavy indictment, the author also emphasizes Markham's great courage, beauty, and charm. All the seamy settler shenanigans of life in Kenyan highlands are reprised in this gossipy, exhaustively researched Beryl Dearest. Another cult figure bites the dust. (Photos) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Svelte, tall, glamorous, vain, nervy pilot Beryl Markham (1902-1986) won fame with her transatlantic solo flight in 1936. In a magnificent, enthralling biography, Trzebinski peels away the layers of myth in Markham's popular memoir, West with the Night , to reveal a sexually insatiable woman whose charisma concealed a selfish, ruthless, insecure self-doubter. Trzebinski knew Markham for many years in Kenya, where the future ace pilot, racehorse trainer and royal courtesan to Edward, Prince of Wales and to the Duke of Gloucester was raised by her English father, a rampant colonialist, and by Masai servants. Beryl's mother abandoned her at age four, instilling a lifelong mistrust of women. The gutsy aviator's obsessive affair with rakish pilot/safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton, whose other mistress was Danish Baroness Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), is fully disclosed here. (Trzebinski charted the Hatton/Blixen romance in Silence Will Speak. ) Also presented is compelling evidence that West with the Night was written by Markham's third husband, Hollywood ghostwriter Raoul Schumacher, a contention that could trigger a lively literary controversy because, in her 1987 Markham biography, Straight on Till Morning , Mary S. Lovell vehemently disputes this. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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