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The story of the American beauty Catherine Wendell and Austrian dancer Tilly Losch the two wives of Porchey Carnarvon, 6th Earl of Carnarvon ( 1898-1987) who was well known for three things... Hunting, Shooting and Flirting.
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I am pleased to add this new title on Catherine Wendell and Tilly Losch, the two Sixth Countesses of Carnarvon to that of my four other books on the Herbert family of Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England. Highclere's fame is almost entirely built these days around it being the backdrop to ITV's period drama " Downton Abbey".
"The Life and Secets of Almina Carnarvon", published in 2011, charts the nine decades of the life and times of Almina Wombwell, the Fifth Countess, which is supplemented by my book " Lady Carnarvon's Nursing Homes. Nursing the Privileged in Wartime and Peace ", also published in 2011. Of note the latter title also has several pages devoted to Elizabeth ( Elsie ) Howard, the Fourth Countess of Carnarvon from 1878 until 1929. There is also considerable coverage elsewhere on Elsie and the other Fourth Countess, Lady Evelyn Stanhope, who died in 1875. Evelyn was the mother of George Edward Stanhope Molyneux, the first husband of Almina Wombwell and co-discoverer with Howard Carter of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. The various Countesses of Carnarvon, George's early life and much about his relationship with Howard Carter ( and others, including his intimate friendship with Prince Victor Duleep Singh ) is contained in my book " Lordy! Tutankhamun's Patron As a Young Man", which was published in 2012 to mark the 90th anniversary of the discovery of the treasures of the boy King, in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.
Over the course of my five books I have now placed in the public domain an account of the two Fourth Countesses, the Fifth Countess, and the two Sixth Countesses, and of course their husbands and their lovers.
Names are deceptive. Take the Sixth Earl of Carnarvon: his full baptismal names were Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert but he was better known as just 'Porchey' Carnarvon. The name Porchey was a nickname derived from his courtesy title of 'Lord Porchester'. Informally, family and friends addressed Henry as Porchey before and after 1923. This was the year when on 5th April ( at the age of twenty-four) he became the Sixth Earl of Carnarvon, succeeding his infamous predecessor George (the Fifth Earl) who was the Lord Carnarvon who discovered the priceless Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.
The Fifth Earl had used the same nickname of Porchey before he succeeded his father, Henry, the Fourth Earl. No doubt it continues for the Carnarvon heir-in-waiting who is currently the eldest son of George, (Jordy) the present Eighth Earl of Carnarvon.
The Carnarvons are a cadet branch of the Herbert family which is headed by the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery and whose seat is at Wilton House, Salisbury, Wiltshire. The Carnarvon earldom was created in 1793, and with this thrown into the marriage wheeling and dealing came a large house and country estate at Highclere Castle, Hampshire. Highclere is the backdrop to British television's period-piece drama Downton Abbey which is allegedly a product of HM Queen Elizabeth II commanding the screenwriter (Julian Fellowes, famed for his Oscar-winning script Gosford Park which is set in a stately home), to write something similar to raise the revenues at Highclere, for her godson, Jordy, Eighth Earl of Carnarvon). The rest is history, as they say! And thank you, Ma'am!
The Carnarvons' other past family seats were at Pixton Park, Devonshire and Bretby Park, Derbyshire. Pixton remains in the possession of a branch of the Herbert family but Bretby was sold-off by the Fifth Earl and his wife Almina (the Fifth Countess) to help make ends meet during the Great War.
Besides names, appearances are deceptive. The Sixth Earl of Carnarvon was small, thick-set and a bright and breezy sort. But this jovial persona hid a less adorable feature: he was a born philanderer. One observer records that he was "a most uncompromisingly direct ladies' man" whilst another describes his life as one spent largely hunting, shooting and flirting.
He was tagged by his fellows as 'Lusty Carnarvon' or 'Randy Carnarvon', especially in the all-male Gentlemen's Clubs such as Whites in London. This was probably out of envy because his scatter-gun approach to the fairer sex meant (amidst many knock backs) that he occasionally 'got lucky'. He was by most standards a nuisance around women and one who, being titled, was rarely brought into line.
Among the women Porchey pursued two were unfortunate enough to be cajoled into marriage. First, in 1922, he wooed an American-born beauty named Catherine Wendell and second, in 1939, he persuaded the well-known Austrian dancer Tilly Losch, if not to the altar, then at least to the Registry Office at the famous Caxton Hall in London.
When they married Porchey both women were vulnerable and penniless. Their marital capitulation into the chore of being Porchey's bedmate was nothing to do with his looks or magnetic sex appeal or of being wonderfully romanced: it was instead all down to a personal/familial requirement to acquire a husband who was better off than they were financially.
Socially both women had a public profile and had made an impact on many suitors. Whilst Porchey made reasonable husband material on the grounds of title, money and property, neither relationship was a love-match and, to some extent, both women were duped by their family and friends into risking the holy state of matrimony.
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Book Description William P.Cross, 2013. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1905914253