LESLEY BLANCH (1904-2007) – historian, travel writer and illustrator.
If they have heard of Lesley Blanch, most people today associate her with her bestselling book, The Wilder Shores of Love, but there is more to Blanch than that. Bohemian in spirit, she was fearless and true to herself; a seductive scholarly romantic, with a soft spot for Russian men; and mad about the Orient. Her life reads like a novel. Website - lesleyblanch.com
Books – Carol Macarthur at United Agents.
Translation Rights – Mary Esdaile at the Intercontinental Literary Agency.
Dramatic Rights – Giles Smart at United Agents.
GEORGE ELTON MAYO (1880-1949) – psychologist and sociologist famous for the Hawthorne studies, (a landmark in industrial psychology), which examined the effects of social relations, motivation, and employee satisfaction on factory productivity.
New Society | December 1980 | The Three Faces Of Elton Mayo | by J H Smith | Professor of Sociology, Co-Founder of New Technology Research Group, University of Southampton | Towards the end of his life, through his association with the Harvard Business School and the Hawthorne Studies, Elton Mayo enjoyed a public acclaim granted to few social scientists of his day. None however would have envied him the fall from grace which was to follow his death – contd ...Enquiries – Georgia de Chamberet
GAEL ELTON MAYO (1923-92) – writer, photographer and artist (oils).
Born in Sydney, she was the youngest daughter of pioneering industrial psychologist, Emeritus Professor Elton Mayo, and Scottish-gened Australian beauty, Dorothea McConnel. She lived in America as a child, where her father had a Life Chair for research at Harvard and was an influential cult figure. Aged eight, Gael was sent by her parents to England with her older sister, for a European education. She was studying for a degree at the Sorbonne when she met a Russian emigré whom she married just before the outbreak of war. Gael was seventeen.
Getting her stateless husband out of France became a mission. They were caught in the Exodus — their son was born during the bombardment of Bordeaux. After near death from puerperal fever, hiding with peasants, being shot at by German soldiers, they reached Free France — only to find they were not free. Eventually, they arrived in New York by way of Spain and Argentina. Their marriage fell apart. Gael remarried. She modelled briefly and was assistant editor of Popular Publications & Ken White (later Esquire). In 1944 Doubleday published her first novel, Honeymoon in Hell, based on her wartime experiences. But it is in her autobiography, The Mad Mosaic (1983), that her wartime escape is truly told.
Gael returned to post-war Europe. She wrote a column in Madrid for the Spanish American Courier, then worked for Picture Post and as writer-researcher for Magnum Photographers in Paris, with Robert Capa, David Seymour and Henri Cartier Bresson. She wrote 'Generation X' with Cartier Bresson in England (later changed to 'Youth of the World' by Holiday Magazine), and in 1955 was hired on a permanent basis to handle public relations for Seymour in Rome, but he was killed reporting Suez. She went on to collaborate with London photographer Baron, arranging and writing his Paris profiles of Anouilh, Abbé Pierre, Mendez France amongst others. Her career was disrupted when her husband kidnapped their daughter and took her with him to another country.
Gael's painting was encouraged by Moïse Kisling, who did a portrait of her (now in a private collection in Japan). She had eight Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Melbourne, and in 1969 was listed in The Encyclopaedia of Australian Art (Hutchinson). Gael also designed dress material for Leonard et Cie bought by Balenciaga and Carven, and wrote songs (lyrics and music) which she sang on British TV and in a film made at Elstree Studios. Four novels were published in the 1960s: The Devil and the Fool, Nobody's Nothing, Last Seen Near Trafalgar, It's Locked In With You.
She worked with her third husband, a French aristocrat beset by Balzacian legal disputes, to restore his crumbling family Chateau in the Jura - recounted in her memoir The End Of A Dream. The couple separated and Gael moved to England with their little daughter, then back to France, to Provence, about which she also wrote in The End Of A Dream. They were reunited in the 1980s and planned to live together, but he suddenly died. For the last twenty years of her life, Gael — 'An invincible beauty' Observer — fought a virulent cancer of the head and neck, 'the spook', about which she wrote in a second volume of autobiography, Living With Beelzebub. It was published just before she died.
THE MAD MOSAIC
On June 1940, while evacuation from Dunkirk was taking place in the north, my son was born at Cauderan near Bordeaux; we were part of the exodus which was surging down the roads to the south throughout June, at times under bombs from Italian planes. So begins Gael's autobiography. Shot at by the Germans whilst escaping with her baby son and stateless Russian husband; boarding a refugee ship sailing to South America, Gael eventually reaches the safety of New York only to return to war-ravaged Europe. She describes working with Robert Capa and David Seymour at Magnum photographers, (both were killed - in Vietnam and Suez), and with Henri Cartier-Bresson in England for Capa's brainchild, 'Generation X'. She writes of Spain in the 1950s and Paris in the 1960s; of marriages and bereavement; of survival and hope.
DAVID NIVEN – Fascinating! What a period! What a life! But, above all — what courage!
ELIZABETH LONGFORD, BOOKS & BOOKMEN – I have never read an autobiography like this one. A mixture of Kafka and Alice in Wonderland, I was hooked.
THE TIMES – The Mad Mosaic has about it something of the disturbing impermanence of life depicted in the film Casablanca.
ALASTAIR FORBES, SPECTATOR – A compulsively readable, and often deeply moving account, of a life led in a rather crazy cat's cradle criss-cross between America and Europe.
GLASGOW SUNDAY STANDARD – Few refugee stories outside the Auschwitz range have the peculiar poignancy of Gael Elton Mayo's.
Japanese edition published 2007 by PHP Institute Inc., Kyoto. Translated by Koichiro Mochida.
Autobiography. Quartet Books 1983 HB 240pp illus £9.95 ISBN 07043 23605 PB 1984 £3.95 ISBN 07043 34593
LIVING WITH BEELZEBUB
When my spook draws very near, and penetrates further into the house than just the hallway, he takes on an identity. He becomes a person I can almost see; at these times he is Beelzebub. Gael almost surreal descriptions of cancer ward(s) are interspersed with memories of the people and places of her past.
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT – Living With Beelzebub demonstrates courage, energy and humour in the face of pain and fear, and does so with a real writer's touch. It deserves to last.
GREY GOWRIE, DAILY TELEGRAPH – A real contribution to the literature of illness, a brave end to her vivacious autobiography The Mad Mosaic.
JANET WATTS, OBSERVER – The writer Gael Elton Mayo has had almost too interesting a life. She is a survivor who plays to win.
Autobiography. Quartet Books 1992 HB 148pp £12.95 ISBN 07043 70263 Sakuhinsha, Japan 2003 Translated by Koichiro Mochida 228pp ISBN 4878935812