The Red Earl: The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon

The Red Earl: The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon

Selina Hastings

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1408187361

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In The Red Earl Selina Hastings tells the extraordinary story of her father, Jack Hastings, 16th Earl of Huntingdon. In 1925, Hastings infuriated his ultra-conservative parents by turning his back on centuries of tradition to make a scandalous run-away marriage. With his beautiful Italian wife he then left England for the other side of the world, further enraging his family by determining on a career as a painter.

The couple settled first in Australia, then on the island of Moorea in the South Pacific. Here, they led an idyllic existence until a bizarre accident forced them to leave the tropics forever. En route back to England, they stopped for a year in California, where Hastings continued to paint while enjoying a glamorous social life with actors such as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.

While in San Francisco, Hastings met the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and persuaded him to take him on as an assistant. For the next nearly four years he lived at close quarters with Rivera and with his wife, Frida Kahlo, first in San Francisco, then Detroit, and finally Mexico City. When eventually Hastings returned home it was to be faced with fighting on all fronts: in Spain during the Civil War; in England with his parents; and lastly with his wife, determined to keep him locked into a marriage from which by now he was desperate to escape.

This enthralling story, superbly well written, not only gives a new perspective on two of the 20th-century's greatest artists, Rivera and Kahlo, but also reveals in fascinating detail the private life of an aristocratic family of 100 years ago.

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from Maud. Finally, without a word to any member of his family, Jack obtained a special licence for a civil ceremony to be conducted on 21 October 1925 at the registry office of St George’s, Hanover Square. In the hope of avoiding attention, he had made no mention of his title, giving his name simply as Francis John Hastings, but still the press got hold of it. ‘Earl’s Heir Weds Secretly’, the headlines announced. ‘With great secrecy,’ the Evening News reported, ‘the wedding took place in London

Xmas pass without sending you a line as it comes so far above earthly troubles. You are probably having better weather than we are here with frost & fog & no hunting owing to foot & mouth disease. I don’t know what you have done about your clubs but if you wish I will write & ask for your name to be put on the list of members gone abroad. Wishing you good health & a comfortable Xmas, Your affec. Dada In Melbourne, meanwhile, in the unaccustomed heat of the Australian summer, Jack and Cristina

group discreetly ushered into Marion’s bedroom where, giggling, she supplied copious quantities of gin poured from hot-water bottles hidden in her bathroom. When it was time to go downstairs again, great concentration was needed to appear sober before their magisterial host, whom they found, upright and unsmiling, waiting to escort them into dinner. Yet fascinated though he may have been, Jack was also dismayed by Hearst’s profligacy and excess, particularly at a time when much of the country

never see Diego nor set foot on the continent again. Now he and Cristina were faced with setting up a permanent home together, despite the fact that the marriage was under strain. The last few years had been a constant adventure, enabling them for long periods largely to ignore the unsatisfactory aspects of their relationship, but could they now settle down and spend the rest of their lives peaceably together? Jack knew they could not, and once more begged Cristina to divorce him; yet again she

abroad 39–40, 54–5, 74, 173–4 Hastings, Mary (daughter of 3rd Earl) 3 Hastings, Maud (Wilson) (JH’s mother) 8, 38, 53–4 acquaintance with Nellie Melba 14–15 active old age 188 antipathy to communism 180–1 antipathy to Cristina 57, 61, 64, 71, 76, 85–6, 180–2 antipathy to Luisa Casati 57 attire 13–14, 191 awareness of JH’s wedding 59, 63 civility towards Margaret 187–8 coronation of Edward VII 14 devotion of Moorea 164 disownment of JH 60–1, 187 disposition 10, 19–20, 187–8

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