The classic story of four nineteenth-century women who, for different reasons, gravitated to the wildness of the Middle East and North Africa.
'There have been many women who have followed the beckoning Eastern star' says Lesley Blanch. She writes about four such women in THE WILDER SHORES OF LOVE - Isabel Burton (who married the Arabist and explorer Richard), Jane Digby el-Mezrab (Lady Ellenborough, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain), Aimee Dubucq de Rivery (a French convent girl captured by pirates and sent to the Sultan's harem in Istanbul) and Isabelle Eberhardt (a Swiss linguist who felt most comfortable in boy's clothes and lived among the Arabs in the Sahara).
They all escaped from the constraints of nineteenth century Europe and fled to the Middle East, where they found love, fulfillment and 'glowing horizons of emotion and daring.' And each of them, in their own way, used love as a means of individual expression, of liberation and fulfilment.
Lesley Blanch (1904-2007) was born in west London. From 1922 to 1924 she studied painting at the Slade School of Art and worked steadily as an illustrator and commercial artist for the next decade, designing book jackets as well as costumes and sets for the theater and the ballet. After writing for several British magazines, Blanch turned to journalism full-time, and in 1937 she was named the features editor of British Vogue. She left the magazine in 1945, the same year she married the French novelist and diplomat Romain Gary. The couple moved to Bulgaria; Blanch would never reside in the United Kingdom again. Over the next two decades, they were posted to the Balkans, Switzerland, and the United States. In 1963, Gary divorced her to marry the actress Jean Seberg. Blanch traveled to Russia, Turkey, Central Asia, Iran, and North Africa, researching what would become twelve books. They include the biographies The Wilder Shores of Love (1954), The Sabres of Paradise (1960), and Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist (1983); and one novel, The Nine-Tiger Ma (1965). Her memoirs On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life (2015) were published posthumously, along with a companion volume, Far to Go and Many to Love: People and Place (2017). She died in the south of France at the age of 103..
Her website is at www.lesleyblanch.com