MARY CURZON by Nigel Nicolson


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Nigel Nicolson's choice of a title for his latest biography is bold. It prompts the. question, Who is this lady? Mary Curzon was born Mary Victoria Leiter in Chicago in 1870, eldest daughter of a man who through his association with Marshall Field and his speculation in real estate after the Chicago Fire of 1871 became a multimillionaire. Mary was a girl (and woman) of beauty, charm, and dignity. She rejected many more pretentious suitors in favor of George Curzon, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for India. He was even then becoming an authority on the British Empire's largest colony, daring Kipling-esque difficulties to reconnoiter its high Northwestern frontiers. (He held Mary to a private engagement of marriage for two years while he went to the Pamirs for material for his last book.) On his return they married, and only three years later went to India as Queen Victoria's Viceroy and Vicereine. Mary died there, at the age of 36, mourned by three continents. . . . In large part this is a love story, the history of the developing respect and affection of a passionate and authoritative man for his beautiful and adoring wife. It gives large glimpses too of Imperial politics. Admirably handled: Nicolson manages the larger scene as a frame for his life of a most appealing lady.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row