Born on a NSW sheep station, she wedded earls and barons, was feted by London and New York society, and when she died was a Russian princess.
Sheila wedded earls and barons, befriended literary figures and movie stars, bedded a future king, was feted by London and New York society for forty years and when she died was a Russian princess.
Vivacious, confident and striking, Sheila Chisholm met her first husband, Francis Edward Scudamore St Clair-Erskine, a first lieutenant and son of the 5th Earl of Rosslyn, when she went to Egypt during the Great War to nurse her brother. Arriving in London as a young married woman, the world was at her feet - and she enjoyed it immensely. Edward, Prince of Wales, called her 'a divine woman' and his brother, Bertie, the future George VI of England (Queen Elizabeth?s father), was especially close to her. She subsequently became Lady Milbanke and ended her days as Princess Dimitri of Russia. Sheila had torrid love affairs with Rudolph Valentino and Prince Obolensky of Russia and among her friends were Evelyn Waugh, Lord Beaverbrook and Wallis Simpson.
An extraordinary woman unknown to most Australians, Sheila is a spellbinding story of a unique time and a place and an utterly fascinating life.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
If you feel like a guilty pleasure read that is full of juicy gossip and society scandal in high places you will love this biography of Sheila Chisholm an Australian beauty you’ve never heard of who mixed with British royalty including the future king of England and Hollywood celebrities like Rudolph Valentino.
This is a meticulously researched biography that tells a fascinating story without fawning and breathless sycophancy, providing far more than a she-slept-with-so-and-so-and-she- dined-with-so-and-so account of a life that went beyond glamour.
The overwhelming sense one gets of what made Sheila so popular in society circles was that apart from her beauty, she was obviously loyal, discreet, fun, athletic, resilient and generous. Her friendships were lasting as well as dazzling and she used her position to become an influential charity hostess, making the most of the unique opportunities life offered her.
About the Author
Robert Wainwright has been a journalist for 25 years, rising from the grassroots of country journalism in Western Australia to a senior writer with the The Sydney Morning Herald. His career has ranged from politics to crime, always focussing on the people behind the major news of the day. He is the author of Rose: The unauthorised biography of Rose Hancock Porteous (2002), The Lost Boy (2004) and The Killing of Caroline Byrne (2009).
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Very interesting, informative
The author himself states he found it hard to find any real information about Sheila, and that the book was motivated by his editor thinking he might unearth something juicy between her and George VI. Books like this, i.e. subject has done nothing startling other than be friends with famous people, also need a lot of pictures to keep the interest. It seems she was a very fun person, but that only seems to be mentioned in passing - in fact I found it very hard to get a sense of her personality. It might have been more interesting to elaborate more on her business successes at a time when this wasn't easy for a woman. Ended somewhat abruptly with no real detail about the latter stages of her life or marriage.
"Undeniably enjoyable." --"Spectator"
Number Of Pages: 424
Published: 1st November 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3 x 4.1
Weight (kg): 0.61
Edition Number: 1