When a friend of Lesley Blanch's parents whom she only ever referred to as 'The Traveller' visited them in Chiswick, full of the fairytales of Russia and bearing gifts of Fabergé eggs and icons, he instilled in her a lifelong passion. She was twenty when he swept out of her life, leaving her in the grip of a tremendous obsession.
'The Traveller' took Lesley to Paris, accompanied by a chaperone, but still managed to seduce her. We now know that he was theatre director, Theodore Komisarjevsky, who brought Chekhov to British audiences. Diaghilev and Rachmaninov were among his circle, and Lesley attended a Ballets Russes rehearsal.
Their discussion focused on trailblazing women of our time, Lesley Blanch's escape from Edwardian surburbia, the theatre between the wars, married life with diplomat-novelist Romain Gary . . . The Balkans, Russia and the Middle East in the 1950s. The talk ended with the question, "What is a bohemian?" followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Gael Elton Mayo, writer, photographer and artist, talks about her memoir The Mad Mosaic, 1950s Europe, Magnum Photos & Robert Capa, and her long fight against cancer. Interviewer: Richard Baker.
Originally showcased in XCiTés – The Flamingo Book of New French writing, Mounsi's award-winning novel The Demented Dance is published by BlackAmber.
An overview of the Romantic Riviera of The Ballets Russes, Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maugham and Katherine Mansfield. Includes an interview with Lesley Blanch.
SUNDAY GLASGOW HERALD – French writing in translation by a new generation which aims to smash the sterotypes