warning to wives of diplomats

When Pamela Egremont returned from Peking, she bought back a copy of the following circular to show John Julius Norwich.

Lady Pamela found here

It was typed entirely in capital letters but I can’t bring myself to do that to you. I have left the grammatical errors as they were written

“From the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Peking”

This is to inform all missions, especially the wives of other diplomats here in Peking, of the incident surrounding the sudden departure from Peking of the Sierra Leone Ambassador’s wife, Mrs Theresa Malomo Kojo Randall.

How beautiful is Sierra Leone?

Mrs Kojo Randall left suddenly to avoid scandal after her husband caught her with a packet of poison which was supposedly sent to her by her Guinean sweetheart whom she already has a 1 year old son for and from whom the ambassador snatched her away to come to Peking. This is the reason in fact why he did not realise she was already pregnant before. He married her and she had to come and undergo an abortion here in Peking on her arrival.

Terry-Poison found here

The poison was supposed to be used in cooking food for the ambassador to kill him so that Mrs Randall can easily return to her Guinean trader sweetheart in Freetown.

Well informed sources in Freetown said Mrs Randall confessed in Sierra Leone that she was advised to send for and use the poison for her husband by the wife of the First Secretary of the Embassy, Mrs Stella Saquee, who claimed vast experience in using such juju to keep her own husband quiet this is way he does not notice that she sleeps around with a lot of men here in Peking.

All Diplomatic Mission


Juju found here

a trail of dull gold hairpins

Mabel “Nancy” Atherton was a striking divorcee who had sued a previous lover for breach of promise when, instead of marrying her, he ran off with a pretty young actress.

NOT this Nancy (Sinatra) found here

A year later, she in turn was named by Mrs Clara Stirling who sued her husband Jack, Laird of Kippendavie, on the grounds of adultery with Nancy.

NOT this Clara (Bow) found here

Jack counter-petitioned his wife for adultery with his friend Lord “Fatty” Northland, son of the Governor of New Zealand.

The judge Lord Guthrie could scarcely contain himself in the scorching glare of Nancy Atherton’s considerable charms. She was a lady, his Lordship drooled, ‘with gracious manners, the sort of fascination which captivates man indeed’

First to counter these judicial effusions was Nancy’s French maid who told the court she frequently saw her mistress with dashing Jack Stirling on the couch, and found one of his mongrammed handkerchiefs under her pillow. She also saw Nancy in a kimono wrap, her intentions betrayed by a trail of dull gold hairpins scattered in Jack’s bedroom.

French maids found here

Jack not only denied a romance with Nancy, he accused his wife Clara of throwing herself at Fatty Northland when the foursome swanned over to Paris together for the Grand Prix in 1908.

1908 Grand Prix found here

These four, punting by moonlight on the Thames during regatta week at Henley, flitting furtively in and out of restaurants while arranging nightly bedroom toings and froings, danced inevitably towards their own destruction. A divorce was granted to Jack, and Clara lost custody of her two year old son. I learned all this by reading Roger Wilke’s book “Scandal: A Scurrilous History of Gossip“.

But Roger omitted to tell me about the assault charge brought against Clara Stirling’s mother, Mrs Taylor. Because of Fatty Northland’s New Zealand connection, the Taranaki Times reported it in full

Taranaki found here

“Nancy Atherton was plaintiff in a case of alleged assault against 76 year old Mrs Taylor who took out a cross summons for assault. Counsel for plaintiff, Mr Freke Palmer, said the assault took place last Monday. In the past three weeks, Mrs Taylor had been constantly seen near Mrs Atherton’s house and servants had seen her looking in the dining room windows.

image by Bruce Mozert found here

Shortly after 1:00 pm, Mrs Taylor called upon Mrs Atherton and was shown into the drawing room where she asked Nancy a series of delicate questions. When Mrs Atherton refused to answer, Mrs Taylor allegedly jumped from her chair and put her fingers around Nancy’s throat, doing her best to choke her. 

Nancy managed to throw her off and Mrs Taylor rushed downstairs to the dining room when she found the front door was shut. Two servants prevented her from escaping out the window. 

Mrs Taylor alleges she was locked in the house but made no threats and contemplated no violence. After waiting some time, she was frightened by Mrs Atheron’s eyes which blazed like a tiger’s. She opened the window and called to her cabman that she was being held against her will. While trying to escape, two servants pulled and tore at her clothes until they were nearly off.

cat’s eye contact lenses found here

Mrs Taylor was fined two securities of £25.00 each and Mrs Atherton fined £10. They were both ordered to keep the peace for six months.

Another interesting article on the death of Nancy Atherton can be read here

did primrose have dandruff?

About 21 years ago, Sydney was rocked by scandal when Qantas steward Lorenzo Montesini (a.k.a. Prince Giustiniani, Count of the Phanaar, Knight of St Sophia, Baron Alexandroff) jilted Miss Primrose (Pitty Pat) Dunlop on the eve of their society wedding in Venice.

Primrose found here

“The fiasco made world headlines. The front page of London’s Daily Mail carried the headline “Heiress jilted as bridegroom runs off with the best man“. And in Italy the Sunday paper Il Gazzettino also carried a front- page story headlined “VIP wedding goes up in smoke – bridegroom disappears with best man”.

Prince Lorenzo found here

Primrose later married a Polish count and Lorenzo, who lived on and off with best man Robert Straub for many years until his death from cancer, is now happily ensconced in a relationship with a fellow Egyptian.

What reminded me of our Pitty Pat and her ill fated wedding was a story I read about Catherine the Great of Russia. Gazing from her window one spring morning, she spotted the year’s first primrose, and to deter anyone from picking it, she posted a sentry to guard it day and night. Sentries continued to patrol the lawn long after the death of both Catherine and the flower, simply because no one rescinded the order. It was some 50 years before Count Bismarck realised that the manpower could be more gainfully employed elsewhere.

Catherine found here

Catherine was also notable for mistreating her hairdresser. When she discovered she had dandruff, she imprisoned the poor man in an iron cage for three years to stop the news spreading around the royal court. Here’s another hairdressing tale that didn’t end well….

A hairdresser from the small Russian town of Meshchovsk subdued a man who tried to rob her shop, then imprisoned and raped him over a period of three days. The incident occurred as the working day was coming to an end, when a man armed with a gun rushed in and demanded the takings.

read about this other Russian hairdresser here

The frightened employees and customers agreed to fulfill his demand, but the shop’s owner, 28-year-old Olga, knocked him down on the floor and then tied him up with a hairdryer cord. The 32-year-old Viktor couldn’t have known that the woman was a yellow belt in karate.

Olga locked the unlucky robber in the utility room and told her colleagues that she was going to call the police – but didn’t do so. When everybody left, she ordered him to ‘take of his underpants’ threatening to hand him over to the police if he refused to cooperate.

patent for these underpants found here

After that Olga raped her hostage for three long days. She chained Viktor to the radiator with pink furry handcuffs and fed him Viagra.  When she eventually let the man go on Monday, he went straight to hospital as his genitals were injured, and then to the police.

Viagra ad found here

What a bastard,” the woman said about Viktor. “Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1.000 roubles (around $ 30) when he left.”

the bewitching brokers

***Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was a celebrated and liberal preacher who advocated womens’ rights.


When Lucy Bowen, the 38 year old wife of a friend, was on her deathbed, she confessed to her husband that she had been committing adultery with the popular preacher. Henry Bowen was convulsed by jealousy and resentment but did not confront Beecher at the time.

Then the beautiful Libby Tilton, married to Theodore who was yet another of Beecher’s unsuspecting friends, also confessed to her husband that she had fallen under the preacher’s spell. When this news reached the ears of  Henry Bowen he saw a way to get his own back by pitting Theodore and Beecham against each other.


Around the same time, suffragette Victoria Woodhull became aware of the story. Victoria was a remarkable character who believed herself to be a clairvoyant and spirit medium. She and her sister Tennessee Claflin were the first women to have their own brokerage business and published a magazine espousing free love.


Victoria sent Theodore Tilton a message asking him to come and see her. With a shared dislike of Beecher, their attraction to each other was mutual and they became lovers. It did Tilton’s reputation no good at all to be associated with “Mrs Satan” and her scandalous doctrines especially when she announced she was running for president with a Negro reform leader as her running mate.


Victoria published the story of Beecher’s affair with Libby Tilton in her magazine. Suddenly everyone wanted to know whether Tilton was a cuckold and Beecher was a seducer. On 24 August 1874, Tilton swore out a complaint against Beecher, charging him with wilfully alienating his wife’s affections.

cartoon found at Bearskin Rug

The trial lasted 6 months and the whole nation was agog at the scandal. It was soon revealed that Beecher was accused of seducing Lucy Bowen as well as Libby Tilton. A newspaper cartoon at the time showed a Brooklyn businessman locking his wife in a huge safe with a notice on the door “Proof Against Fire and Clergymen” while another showed the latest style in mens hats – complete with cuckold’s horns.

“Magnificent Cuckold” poster found here

The court also learned that the wronged husband was not entirely innocent. He was alleged to have seduced the 17 year old daughter of a congressman in Connecticut and to have made an unsuccessful attempt to do the same to a maid in his own household. The story of his affair with Victoria Woodhull was also raked up.

The jury was out for 8 days; unable to reach a unanimous verdict they voted 9 to 3 against Tilton. Beecher went on a lecture tour and although he was booed in several places, he never failed to draw enormous crowds.

Theodore Tilton settled in Paris where he wrote romantic poetry and played chess. Libby, deserted by her husband and her lover, became a schoolteacher while the Woodhull sisters both married rich men and lived to a ripe old age.


*** from World Famous Scandals by Colin Wilson

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 7:46 am  Comments (33)  
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what is the use of being a queen if you can’t take a lover?

Marie of Romania (1875-1938) was a British Princess by birth and a Romanian Queen by marriage.


Princess Marie married Prince Ferdinand in Sigmaringen, Germany, on 10 January 1893. The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons, was not a happy one. The couple’s two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, were born after Marie met her long-time lover, Barbu Ştirbey. Historians generally agree that Ştirbey was the father of Prince Mircea. The paternity of Ileana is uncertain, as is the paternity of Marie’s second daughter, Maria (or Mignon), the future Queen of Yugoslavia.  Ferdinand’s paternity of the three other children, Carol, Nicholas and Elisabeth, has not been disputed.

Princess Maria & Prince Carol

By 1926 the monarchy was in a tangle.

Prince Carol announced that he no longer wished to be considered a member of the royal family and his father, in the last year of his reign pronounced the destitution of the heir apparent.

Prince Carol

Prince Nicholas, after an undistinguished career at Eton, entered the Royal Navy and was serving in the Mediterranean Fleet, frightening the Maltese to death by tearing round the narrow streets on a Red Indian motor-bike. Stories are still told in naval wardrooms about the Valletta prostitute who set up in business for herself under the sign BY APPOINTMENT TO H.R.H. PRINCE NICHOLAS OF ROMANIA.

Prince Nicholas

His mother was having better luck with her daughters. A dedicated matchmaker, Marie was determined to see the three girls nothing less than queens. Elisabeth had become Queen of Greece—a queen without a throne, it was true, and soon to be without a husband, for the marriage did not work out. Mignon, the second daughter, had taken King Alexander of Yugoslavia for a walk in the forest at Sinaia and come back engaged.


Marie, finding her country in a grim mood, swept off on travels. She took England by storm, danced a quadrille with King George and Queen Mary, and wrote a piece for a daily newspaper called “My Ideal Man”. Her fan-mail was delivered in a truck and it added up to one massive outburst of praise for her good looks, courage, charm, stamina, artistry, authorship, botany and tapestry-work. A journalist on the Toronto Star called her “a first-rate bridge-player, a second-rate poetess, a very high-grade puller of European political strings . . . who uses more make-up than all the rest of the royal families combined

Queen Marie

Her favourite home was more of a seaside villa than a palace. Ferdinand did not sleep here. He died before the Quiet Nest was completed. His widow did, and whom she might have slept with supplies legends for guides to entertain western tourists with. To be fair, they are only retelling gossip which circulated during Marie’s lifetime—gossip which is purged of its original malice for, as the manager of the Balchik rest-home says, ‘What is the use of being a Queen if you can’t take a lover?’

Quiet Nest

The boatman Hassan; the head gardener who cultivated for her a black rose; the Italian architect Fabrice … in the Balchik story they join the list of lovers. The list is headed by the Crown Prince of Prussia and Waldorf Astor of Cliveden, whose wife Pauline complained that Marie was writing to him every day, and must stop it. It continues with Rosciori hussars, Russian grand dukes, a Polish count, a German envoy, Colonel Joe Boyle, Prince Stirbey, two or three minor Romanian politicians, Colonel Eugen Zwiedeneck, a young aide at Balchik . . . A younger member of the royal family says: ‘Great-grandmama was very naughty. Stable-boys and everything.’


In 1930 came the sensational return of the exile: Prince Carol, the dispossessed heir who marched on Bucharest and accomplished a quiet coup against his little son.

History and the popular press have been hard on Carol II of Romania. He is a weak-chinned would-be dictator, a drunkard, intriguer and womaniser; a Byzantine character. Close to former royal circles, they speak with some embarrassment of the defect which destroyed the dynasty :

‘I hardly know how to put it . . . Carol was . . . well, you know about Cleopatra’s nose ? Half an inch longer, and the history of the world might have … it wasn’t Carol’s nose, it was another organ… half an inch shorter, and our history . . . you follow me? Lupescu was the only woman who could … eh? You understand?’


Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am  Comments (37)  
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fumbling towards ecstasy

Brothel keeper Sarah Prendergast was best remembered for an amusing scandal involving the Earl of Harrington  in 1778.


“Known as a person of the most exceptional immorality, the Earl was nicknamed “Lord Fumble” because of his sexual preferences. At one stage he had a harem in his mansion which comprised a Negress in a feathered turban, a young girl in pseudo-classical dress, another dressed as a country wench as well as a mandolin player.

Buttered Beauty

On the evening in question he rejected the three resident whores Sarah offered him, so she sent out for a couple of “fresh country tits” from another establishment, Mrs Butler’s.


The doddery old Earl indulged in manual dalliance to his satisfaction but only gave the girls three guineas each which was rather less than they expected. When they returned to Mrs Butler’s she demanded her share of the money, taking the girl’s clothes off them when they refused to pay up. Police were called and both Mrs Butler and her husband were arrested.


The Earl was furious as details of his thrice weekly visits to Sarah’s seraglio where he partook of two whores at a time were leaked to the press. The sensible Mrs Prendergast  bought up all copies of the papers and paid the whores £5 to drop all charges.

To cheer everyone up she held a grand ball at which the finest women in all Europe would appear “puris naturalibus”. Lord Fumble, in an expression of gratitude, started the ball rolling with a subscription of £50 towards the cost. The ball was a great success. Aristocratic ladies flocked to join professional beauties and danced nude for hours while an orchestra played facing the wall so as not to embarrass them.

Mrs Prendergast made a profit of £1000. Lord Fumble died a few weeks later.

Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 8:18 am  Comments (39)  
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Eugene’s raisin

The first maitre d’hotel at Maxim’s was Eugene Cornuché.  He prided himself on pleasing his clientele and saw to it they could order almost any dish. When one man shouted angrily that there was a beetle in his soup, Cornuché put the insect in his mouth and swallowed it, assuring the complainer that it was only a raisin. An American cotton millionaire asked for, and was brought, a naked girl resting in an ambrosial pink sauce on a silver platter.


He encouraged glamourous women to come to the restaurant every night. Haitian beauty Jeanne Duval arrived carrying her tiny pet dog in her jewel encrusted chastity belt. Caroline Otero fandangoed on the tables, Liane de Pougy wore emerald rings on her toes; and men flocked to be seen with them.


Of Caroline Otero, it was said that ‘her spectacular breasts preceded her by a quarter of an hour‘. The writer Collette described them as ‘elongated lemons, firm and gloriously upturned at their lovely tips’.

Caroline and Liane both boasted that they owned the choicest jewels in France, and it was agreed that they should bring their collections one night to Maxim’s and allow its habitués to judge. Caroline was the first to arrive, laden from head to foot. Her victory seemed certain as the only part of her left uncovered was her face.


Liane appeared dressed entirely in black velvet without a single jewel. Behind her came her personal maid, who removed the coat she was wearing and, in the words of an onlooker, resembled an illuminated Eiffel Tower. As abounding applause proclaimed her the winner, a raging Caroline rushed towards the winner and had to be restrained by the ever ready urbane Monsieur Cornuché.


“In 1913, Jean Cocteau said of Maxim’s: “It’s an accumulation of velvet, lace, ribbons, diamonds and what all else I couldn’t describe. To undress one of these women is like an outing that necessitates three weeks advance notice, it’s like moving house.” Other famous guests of that time period were Edward VII and Marcel Proust.

window dressing inspired by Proust

Maxim’s was also immensely popular with the international elite of the 1950s, with guests such as Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Porfirio Rubirosa, Max Ophuls, and Barbara Hutton. When the restaurant was renovated at the end of the decade, workmen discovered a treasure trove of lost coins and jewelry that had slipped out of the pockets of the wealthy and been trapped between the cushions of the banquettes.


Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 10:49 am  Comments (40)  
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slim, silky Argentines

On July 8 1922, attention turned to the divorce courts where the strange marriage of Mr and Mrs John Russell came under public scrutiny. It was stated that the day before her wedding, Christabel Russell had obtained a promise from her future husband that there should be no question of their having children, at least to begin with. Having apparently complied with this request, Mr Russell was shaken by the arrival of a child and thus was suing his wife for adultery. After a lengthy hearing it was decided that there was no evidence of adultery and Mr Russell, heir to Lord Ampthill, lost the case.


Fast forward to 1976

The House of Lords hearing resurrected one of Britain’s most publicized scandals of the early 1920s, a story that has since been tagged as “The Case of the Virgin Birth.” It involved a young aristocrat, John (“Stilts“) Russell then heir to the Ampthill title, his vivacious and liberated wife Christabel and her baby Geoffrey, who was born in October 1921. Soon after Geoffrey’s birth, John Russell filed for divorce charging that the baby could not possibly be his. He claimed that he and his wife had agreed before the wedding to lead separate lives and leave the marriage unconsummated.


Christabel Russell admitted that she had never had full intercourse with her husband. But she insisted that she had not had sex with any other man either. Her proof: after learning that she was pregnant, she had undergone a medical examination. Doctors testified that she was still technically a virgin; her hymen had been only partly perforated. How then had the baby been conceived? During a night of “Hunnish” behavior ten months before Geoffrey’s birth, she testified, when her husband tried to force her to have intercourse, but succeeded only in an incomplete act. He flatly denied any such behavior occurred.

Attila the Hun

One divorce trial ended without a decision, but a second in 1923 explored the details again. Christabel, her husband charged, had cavorted across the Continent, writing home about “slim, silky Argentines” and “marcel-waved” Italians who courted, wined and dined her. She still insisted that they had not slept with her; medical experts conceded that her story of Geoffrey’s conception might be true. A ten-month gestation was not unknown, they said. Impregnation without penetration, though rare, was possible. Still, the jury in the second divorce trial found her guilty of adultery with an unnamed man.

slim silky Argentinian?

Christabel Russell appealed the divorce decree to the House of Lords and won. In 1924 a panel of lords, Britain’s highest court, ruled that no child born after a marriage could be declared illegitimate merely on the testimony of his mother or father. Two years later, a High Court judge reinforced this decision by issuing a certificate of legitimacy for Geoffrey. Not until after John Russell succeeded to his title as the third Baron Ampthill in 1935 did the redoubtable Christabel finally divorce him.

Published in: on July 12, 2010 at 8:32 am  Comments (39)  
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gaiters and torn dresses

In 1921 a major ecclesiastical scandal gripped the public’s attention. It was said that the 61 year old Archdeacon John Wakeford had been staying at an obscure hotel in Peterborough with a young woman. Sensational evidence supplied by chambermaids resulted in Wakeford being found guilty and deprived of his office.

image by Paul Ickovic found here

“The appeal case came before the Privy Council, many of whom wore top hats and gaiters. Women fought for seats in the crowded room and dresses were torn. The Council sat for 7 days and heard 50 witnesses before unanimously upholding the guilty verdict.

Wakeford was accused of staying openly on Good Friday at the Bull Hotel with a woman not his wife. He made no attempt at concealment, registered in his own name and wore apron and gaiters, the characteristic garments of an Archdeacon.

Washington apron found here

He maintained the immorality charge was the result of a conspiracy between two clergymen, one of them, Mr Worthington, being his brother in law. He said he merely went to Peterborough to visit the noble church and take long quiet walks to prepare his sermons.

Was he guilty? The defendant’s wife, also the daughter of a rector,  stood by him and took the stand against her brother. It did no good, as this extract from the Canberra Times reveals….

“Archdeacon Wakeford has been found certifiably insane and sent to the Kent County Asylum.”


Published in: on July 11, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (35)  
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