Hugo Vickers’s life took a dramatic turn in 1979 when the legendary Sir Cecil Beaton invited him to be his authorised biographer. The excitement of working with the famous photographer was dashed only days later when Cecil Beaton died. But the journey had begun – Vickers was entrusted with Beaton’s papers, diaries and, most importantly, access to his friends and contemporaries. The resulting book, first published in 1985, was a bestseller.
In this talk, Malice in Wonderland, Vickers shares excerpts from his personal diaries kept during this period. For five years, Vickers travelled the world and talked to some of the most fascinating and important social and cultural figures of the time, including royalty such as the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, film stars such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews, writers such as Truman Capote, and photographers such as Irving Penn and Horst. Lady Diana Cooper, Clarissa Avon and Diana Vreeland took him under their wings. And not only did he seek out Beaton’s friends – Vickers sought out the enemies too, notably Irene Selznick.
Drawn into Beaton’s world and accepted by its members, Vickers the emerging biographer also began his own personal adventure. The outsider became the insider – Beaton’s friends became his friends. Malice in Wonderland is a fascinating portrait of a now disappeared world, and vividly and sensitively portrays some of its most fascinating characters as we travel with Vickers on his quest.
Hugo Vickers is a writer and broadcaster, who has written biographies of many twentieth century figures, including the Queen Mother, Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough, Cecil Beaton, Vivien Leigh, a study of Greta Garbo, Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece, and his book, The Private World of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor was illustrated with pictures from their own collection. Mr Vickers’s book, The Kiss – The Story of an Obsession won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. Malice in Wonderland is his most recent book