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Hazel: A Life of Lady Lavery 1880-1935
     

Hazel: A Life of Lady Lavery 1880-1935

by Sinead McCoole
 

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Until now Lady Lavery has been remembered for the numerous portraits by her husband, the painter John Lavery, celebrated in "The Municipal Gallery Re-visited' by W.B. Yeats, This first biography of Hazel tells the story the pictures cannot: ow a girl from boomtown Chicago became one of the most stylish society hostesses in London, and turned her husband's studio

Overview

Until now Lady Lavery has been remembered for the numerous portraits by her husband, the painter John Lavery, celebrated in "The Municipal Gallery Re-visited' by W.B. Yeats, This first biography of Hazel tells the story the pictures cannot: ow a girl from boomtown Chicago became one of the most stylish society hostesses in London, and turned her husband's studio into a hub of Anglo-Irish diplomacy, from the 1921 Treaty negotiations through the tumultuous early years of the Irish Free State. Using hitherto-unpublished letters and scrapbooks assembled by Hazel herself, Sinead McCoole gives an intimate account of Hazel's artistic and political preoccupations, and of her extraordinary effect upon the male politicians of Ireland and Britain, for whom she and her salon often represented the only common ground.

Romance and politics converged in her relationships with two hard men of nationalist Ireland who each met violent deaths: Michael Collins, whose view on the Treaty were influenced by Hazel, and Kevin O'Higgins, whose passionate letters to Hazel reveal the inner man beneath the political carapace. Hazel also forged durable social and political alliances with the pillars of British government - Winston Churchill, Ramsay MacDonald and Lord Londonderry among other - while relishing her friendships with leading writers and artists of the day such as George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Barrie, Lennox Robinson and Evelyn Waugh.

This lavishly illustrated, richly documented life of Lady Lavery relates how one beautiful American woman reinvented herself as 'a simple Irish girl' came to personify Eirr on Ireland's banknotes, 'living and dying ... as though some ballad-singer had sung it all'.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A Dubin-based historical researcher rights a historical wrong by revealing Lady Hazel Lavery as more than just a pretty face commemorated on Irish banknotes and in more than 400 paintings by her famous husband, John Lavery.

Hazel Martyn Lavery may have been dubbed "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Midwest" in her boarding school days, but by the time she died in 1935 she had influenced some of Ireland's most important revolutionary leaders—notably Michael Collins and Kevin O'Higgins—and thus the direction of the freedom movement itself. She also counted among her many friends people such as Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and J.M. Barrie. McCoole ably traces this transformation from transplanted American to self-appointed Irish ambassador. Using previously unpublished documents and other sources, McCoole breaks new ground in her portrayal of a woman struggling to find her place in a world where women's roles were restricted (she suffered two nervous breakdowns). She takes us through Lady Lavery's unhappy first marriage, her second marriage to Lavery and her evolving role as vital social diplomat. At their London home she and Lavery hosted meetings between key British and Irish leaders and produced an artistic record of the Irish struggle via Lavery's paintings. An inveterate flirt, Lady Lavery was not just intellectually involved with her Irish friends. Although it is not absolutely certain she and Collins were lovers, McCoole leaves little doubt of their emotional passion. When he died she took up a similar relationship with O'Higgins, who was also assassinated.

Part love story, part sociological/historical analysis, this is a thorough mini-history of Ireland's fight for freedom and a tantalizing portrait of a woman who was at once determined and vulnerable, talented and yet unsure.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781843512899
Publisher:
Lilliput Press, Limited, The
Publication date:
02/15/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
250
File size:
8 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Sinead McCoole is a Dublin-based historical researcher. She received a BA in History and History of Art, and an MA in Modern Irish History, from University College Dublin. She is currently doing research on Irish Republican women in the period 1916 to 1923.

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