Liesl Schillinger: Review of Anne Sebba's "That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor" (St. Martin's, 2012)Roundup: Books
Liesl Schillinger is a regular contributor to the NYT Book Review.
The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
By Anne Sebba
Illustrated. 344 pp. St. Martin’s Press. $27.99.
Seventy-five years ago, Edward VIII swapped his kingdom for a divorcée, the American-born Wallis Warfield Simpson. At this advanced date, could there possibly be anything new to add to the mountain of autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, novels and films that have accreted on this subject? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. In “That Woman,” Anne Sebba boldly recasts the relationship that was once considered the “most romantic love story of the last century” as “a tale of gothic darkness with a Faustian pact at its core.” The king, in Sebba’s telling, emerges as a man who today might be looked on as something of a stalker.
On Dec. 11, 1936, the day after Edward VIII signed away his rights to the British crown, he announced on a BBC broadcast that he had abdicated for love of a woman whom he wished to marry, but could not marry as king. The object of his ardor was herself married at the time, to her second husband, Ernest Simpson.
In Britain, the public had not been aware of the seriousness of the king’s attachment. His protectors in the news media, notably Bernard Rickatson-Hatt, the editor in chief of Reuters and a close friend of Ernest Simpson’s (a connection Sebba explores in depth in the book), struggled to keep the mud from spattering. But across the Atlantic, American newspapers covered the courtship zestfully, portraying Wallis Simpson as a shrewd adventuress....
comments powered by Disqus
- The ‘nation’s report card’ says it assesses critical thinking in history
- A ‘Quest for Justice’ for Murdered Civil Rights Pioneer, 52 Years Later
- Under Trump, Most Americans Lack Basic Knowledge to Understand Current Events, Study Finds
- Trump wants a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on July 4th
- What Happens When an Entire Campus Is Rooted in the Confederacy?
- Male historian tapped to lead Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas
- Decline in History Majors Continues, Departments Respond
- He’s 75 now. When he started teaching at the University of New Orleans students walked out on his class.
- ‘Fake news’ from 1738 offers lessons for modern historians, says Missouri scholar
- Peter Dreier calls on Americans to build monuments to liberal heroes