Gladys Marie Deacon was a socialite known to the world as the Duchess of Marlborough. She was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, paintings were made of her and men fell at her feet, but she ended up spending her old age as a recluse in a psychiatric clinic.
We, from incredible.clubwe studied the Duchess’s biography and tried to discover why a perfect woman felt the need for cosmetic procedures and how marriage to a man, whom she desired throughout her youth, drove her out of her mind.
Gladys was born in 1881 in Paris into a privileged upper-class family. However, her perfect childhood ended when her father went to prison. After his release, the girl and her sisters lived with their father for some time, before finally moving to France. Even then, it was clear that Gladys was incredibly beautiful: delicate features, golden hair, striking blue eyes. She was called the “most beautiful woman in the world”. Famous French writer Marcel Proust wrote that he had never seen a young woman of such beauty, intelligence, kindness and charm. Gladys was also intelligent and, for a while, even wanted to be a teacher, but then she became obsessed with an idea and it took over her thoughts: she wanted to get married anyway.
When Gladys began to participate in events, she caused a stir in society, and was courted even by the aristocrats of the time. Writers made her the protagonist of their own novels and she was often painted in paintings. When she turned 20, the mother of the future duchess was worried: the young woman had already turned down many suitors. However, it turned out that she simply followed her goal. Gladys from her youth wanted to marry the Duke of Marlborough. She even became friends with his wife, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and waited “backstage”. But when the dream came true and the couple broke up, the young woman discovered that, in fact, the man of her fantasies turned out to be snobbish and boring.
William Kissam Vanderbilt with his daughter Consuelo, the first wife of the Duke of Marlborough.
That was one of the busiest moments of the young woman’s life. When Gladys visited the Duke of Marlborough’s palace at Blenheim, the Crown Prince of Prussia fell madly in love with her on one occasion. This increased her popularity even more, intensifying her marriage proposals. According to rumors, the beautiful Gladys loved to look in the mirror for hours, until one day she started to bother with the shape of her nose. She then decided to have a cosmetic procedure that had devastating consequences. After the incident, Gladys could no longer look in the mirror like before.
During the procedure, doctors injected paraffin wax into the hollow between Gladys’ nose and forehead. But the result was terrible: paraffin lumps formed under the skin, which moved freely and fell first on the cheeks, and then on the chin.
Blenheim Palace of the Duke of Marlborough.
High society did not let such an eventuality go unnoticed. However, despite the setback, Gladys still remained very beautiful and for years she was with the man of her dreams, the Duke of Marlborough. And finally, she got what she wanted: when the duke’s marriage came to an end at the age of 40, Gladys became a duchess. remarked wryly, “There isn’t a single decent bathroom in the whole house.”
However, his new role in the palace was not easy. The employees, who remained faithful to the previous lady, did not like her. Her relationship with her husband was terrible, as they fought a lot, even making threats. The husband began to cheat on her and increasingly leave the house. Several unsuccessful pregnancies and a monotonous routine plunged the Duchess into depression. Eventually, her husband dumped her temporarily, leaving her alone in the family castle. While Gladys was secluded in the palace, the duke spread rumors about her state of insanity.
Gladys and her husband, the Duke of Marlborough.
Eventually, the couple broke up. The former Duchess adopted the surname Spencer and moved to the countryside, where she gardened and had many cats. She behaved eccentrically and barely communicated with the outside world. Once, when she was trying to fix something on her property, a young man who was passing by helped her. He stayed at her house as a helper and handyman. After that, she practically stopped all communication with the outside world. The windows of her house were always closed and the property fenced with barbed wire. In the end, when Gladys was already over 80 years old, the neighbors became worried about her health and she was admitted to a psychiatric clinic. Throughout her stay there, Gladys constantly tried to escape and ignored the other patients. Every day she fed the pigeons outside her window. Sometimes they flew into her room, and nurses saw the former duchess sitting on her bed, surrounded by birds.
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