Petya Favorov/Петя Фаворов (favorov) wrote,
Petya Favorov/Петя Фаворов
favorov

RIP: Marion Wrottesley

Her education at a girls' school in the Cotswolds was swiftly terminated when an
aunt heard another pupil say "Pardon".
...
During a spell in Madrid, where she was tagged "Hi-fidelity", she grabbed the
microphone at the Castellana Hilton, sang Blue Moon and attempted to do the
strip.
...
Such skills made her welcome when she arrived as a young divorced
woman in austere post-war London and fell in with upper-class rebels such as the
Labour minister's daughter Lydia Noel-Burton, who always carried on her person
two kippers and a bottle of gin
...
In 1949 Marion met an Old Harrovian, Dick Wrottesley, in the Bag
of Nails nightclub. The heir to Lord Wrottesley reputedly locked her in the
lavatory until she had agreed to marry him.
...
She flourished on National Assistance - her card was crudely
marked "Alcoholism" - and became a character in London
pubs such as the Star in Belgrave Mews West and the Wellington in
Portobello Road, where she began the day with Fernet Branca or Carlsberg
Special.
...
Marion Wrottesley is survived by her children, Michael and Shelagh, and by
at least a dozen handsome and intelligent grandchildren who include the
fashion stylist Ramona Rainey. Her son Mark Wrottesley died while serving in
the Rhodesian Army.


Marion Wrottesley
(Filed: 04/02/2006)

Marion Wrottesley, who died on January 24 aged 83, was a
raucously effervescent and flighty figure, equally at home in the fleshpots of
Spain and the bedsitters of Kensington and Chelsea.


Egotistical, eventually penniless, but continuously alluring, she
married the heir to a barony and hobnobbed with everyone from Somerset Maugham
to the Kray twins, but had no worldly ambitions other than to flaunt her own
charms and to express her hatred of hypocrisy.


One of the high points of her life came in the mid-1950s when she
lived in Spain and London with the writer Alec Waugh, who gave her a Cisitalia
sports car, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and wrote about her in
his much re-printed novel Fuel for the Flame (1960).



Joyce Marion Wallace was born on January 3 1923 in Shanghai,
where her father, Dare Wallace, was director-general of Burmah Oil and a China
hand of the third generation. His daughter later boasted that the Wallaces were
one of the few British families not involved in the opium trade.


At the age of seven Marion was shipped off to England, but her
education at a girls' school in the Cotswolds was swiftly terminated when an
aunt heard another pupil say "Pardon". She was transferred to the more exclusive
Felixstowe Ladies' College, where she learnt to dance and play the piano.


Back in Shanghai in 1940, aged only 17, she married Sean Rainey,
an Irishman then serving as a private in the Seaforth Highlanders. This was
partly a strategic move to get out of China: the Raineys duly moved to
Australia, where Marion had powerful cousins in the Fairfax family, owners of
the Sydney Morning Herald, and then to Bangalore. Here two children were born,
and young Mrs Rainey served briefly as recruiting officer for the Black Watch
while learning about "the sins of gin" and how to mix dry martinis.


Such skills made her welcome when she arrived as a young divorced
woman in austere post-war London and fell in with upper-class rebels such as the
Labour minister's daughter Lydia Noel-Burton, who always carried on her person
two kippers and a bottle of gin.


In 1949 Marion met an Old Harrovian, Dick Wrottesley, in the Bag of Nails
nightclub. The heir to Lord Wrottesley reputedly locked her in the lavatory
until she had agreed to marry him.


In spite of blissful summers at Wrottesley, near Wolverhampton,
where the family had lived for 900 years, and the birth of their son Mark, the
marriage broke down quickly. Dick Wrottesley had already told his wife: "I only
married you for your tarty qualities."


By this time, Marion had inherited £30,000 and would use this,
then-substantial, nest egg to settle in Spain with her Rainey children, Michael
and Shelagh. In 1953 she acquired a 13-bedroom house at Soller, on Majorca.


Plans to turn this into a hotel fell through, and she moved to a
suburban villa near Palma. She soon re-located to Tangiers, then largely
undiscovered, and became a regular at the Rif Hotel and Deans Bar.


A year later she re-surfaced among the bullfighting crowd at
Torremolinos, then dominated by Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. Here the rich
American expatriate Rose O'Malley-Keyes gave her the nickname "Pinkie", on
account of the colour she had started dying her hair. By now Marion Wrottesley
was an unstoppable social force, instantly finding the party circuit in any
resort and drawing attention to herself by flirting with every man in the room.
During a spell in Madrid, where she was tagged "Hi-fidelity", she grabbed the
microphone at the Castellana Hilton, sang Blue Moon and attempted to do the
strip.


She shared her life with Evelyn Waugh's brother while he was
writing his novel Island in the Sun (1956). As well as buying her the 1946
Cisitalia 202 sports car, which she claimed could run only on aeroplane fuel, he
introduced her to Somerset Maugham, with whom she argued, and Cyril Connolly,
with whom she woke up in bed.


In the early 1960s Marion returned penniless to "Swinging London"
where, in 1964, her son Michael would open the fashionable outfitters Hung on
You on Chelsea Green. At the reception following Michael Rainey's marriage to
Jane Ormsby-Gore, Marion was assured by the bride's father, Lord Harlech, that
his own family was "full of pisspots". On learning that Brian Jones and Keith
Richards were also present, she declared: "I must find myself a Rolling Stone."
By this date, Marion's daughter Shelagh had already married the sprightly David
Tennant, who had founded the Gargoyle Club in the 1920s.


During this era Marion also formed a close bond with her playboy
stepson Richard Wrottesley, who first hit the headlines in 1966 when his Bentley
was found upside down in the snow outside the Palace Hotel at St Moritz. At his
regency-style flat in St James's Street, young "Wrotters" introduced his
stepmother to his less respectable friends, such as the East End gangsters
Ronald and Reginald Kray.


For the remainder of her life, Marion Wrottesley lived mainly in
bedsitters in Chelsea, Kensington, Earl's Court and further afield. Though a
gifted story-teller and remarkably well-read - Cyril Connolly's Unquiet Grave
was her favourite book - she never gave in to pressure from Charles Graves and
other luminaries to write her memoirs. Instead she flourished on National
Assistance - her card was crudely marked "Alcoholism" - and became a character
in London pubs such as the Star in Belgrave Mews West and the Wellington in
Portobello Road, where she began the day with Fernet Branca or Carlsberg
Special.


Taxi drivers fell in love with her and carried her free; she
bowled over a young businessman by remarking that he looked like "a murderer in
a French film"; and, however bumpy the night, she never lost her door keys.


Marion Wrottesley dyed her hair red to the end, and quickly
discarded couture clothes given her by friends and family in favour of more
seductive attire.


She never sought respectability but found affection in many
quarters. During her final days she complimented a hospital nurse on her legs
and urged her to flaunt them. She also retained an honesty about herself. Told
that she would meet all her old friends in Heaven, she replied: "I think I'm
going to do a little wandering first."


Marion Wrottesley is survived by her children, Michael and
Shelagh, and by at least a dozen handsome and intelligent grandchildren who
include the fashion stylist Ramona Rainey. Her son Mark Wrottesley died while
serving in the Rhodesian Army.


Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of
Telegraph Group Limited

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