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The Later Years

"Perhaps most fascinating are the later years, when not even royalty could be assured of admittance to Tennant’s Sleeping Beauty palace."

After World War II, Stephen became, in the words of Osbert Sitwell, "the last professional beauty." As time went on Stephen withdrew from society. "He had travelled the globe with Barbara Hutton and other rich dames for long enough; it was society's turn to come visit him." Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Christopher Isherwood, Truman Capote and Greta Garbo all made the pilgrimage to the bedside of this ever more mysterious figure. He turned Wilsford Manor into his dream land, which is described by Nicky Haslam in his book 'The Impatient Pen':


"Pink velvet swags cover what walls aren’t painted with gold stars on powder blue, a gleaming silver ceiling, turquoise fur rugs over white fur rugs over fraying Aubusson. White and gilt carved rope furniture with white leather upholstery draped with vivid Chinese shawls and red Indian blankets. Light struggles out from crystal brackets or hollowed shells layered with cobwebs…"


An extract of Nicky Haslam's essay on his visit to Wilsford can be read here. To read more about Stephen's life, you can read his biography "Serious Pleasures" by Philip Hoare. 

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