Bestselling biography of the enduringly fascinating Wallis Simpson
Anne Sebba read History at King's College London then joined Reuters as a foreign correspondent based in London and Rome. She has written eight works of non-fiction, mostly about iconic women, presented BBC radio documentaries and is an accredited Nadfas lecturer. She is married with three children.
Madonna's new film fictionalises the affair between Edward VIII and
Wallis Simpson, while this life tells the true story * DAILY
The publication of this intriguing reassessment of her [Simpson's] controversial life could not be more timely ... an illuminating and absorbing read -- Katherine Whitbourn * DAILY MAIL *
Commendably restrained ... Sebba's real coup is the discovery of letters between Wallis and Ernest, dated long after she had become involved with Edward * INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY *
A well-rounded and often moving portrait * CAMBRIDGESHIRE JOURNAL *
"I hope to humanize rather than demonize" the woman for whose sake King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne, writes Sebba (Jennie Churchill: Winston's American Mother) in this controversial biography that was a bestseller in Britain. The author, using interviews, previously unavailable letters, and media accounts, explores how Simpson, a spunky Southern belle, changed her life after two divorces and numerous love affairs on two continents, seized the heart of then prince of Wales, and weathered the wrath of the royals and the hostile British press. Two startling speculations concerning Simpson's medical and psychological state attribute her sexual fierceness and flirtatiousness to a possible form of hermaphroditism and the need to emphasize her femininity. Sebba discloses the tremendous pressure from the royal family and high society on the new king to place English tradition above his bond to the American divorcee with her dubious background. Sebba details the life after the abdication, in which the duchess proved herself a resourceful survivor. This accomplished biography is smart, eloquent, and unafraid to go beyond the myth of the duchess of Windsor Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates (U.K.). (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
While the allure of Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII's story has lasted over 70 years, Sebba (former foreign correspondent, Reuters; American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill) presents the complex woman behind that relationship, who was not merely a social climber/seductress. Sebba's research reveals that although Wallis was drawn to the life that Edward could provide, she also cared for her second husband, Ernest Simpson, and in fact hoped to maintain both relationships: she did not want to be queen and pleaded with the infatuated Edward not to abdicate. Thus this is a more balanced portrait of Wallis than readers may be used to, extending from birth to death and keeping the focus on her, rather than simply on her marriage to Edward and their long lives as Duke and Duchess of Windsor. VERDICT Sebba dispels the myths that surround the pair (such as that theirs was a love story for the ages). Charles Higham's The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life spends more time on their alleged Nazi sympathies. Greg King's The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson supports the love story and defends Wallis Simpson. Sebba's more nuanced biography should be included in any collection covering this subject. Madonna's forthcoming movie on Wallis Simpson, W.E., will increase interest.-Maria Bagshaw, West Dundee, IL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.