The naughty novelist who invented the Hollywood sex scene: New book reveals life of Elinor Glyn

3 months ago

They’d spent the time chastely speechmaking poesy — the aristocratic young Englishman and the beauteous and mysterious older pistillate who had spirited him distant to her opulent Swiss edifice suite. Then, sprawled connected a tiger-skin rug, a ‘madness of tender caressing seized her’ arsenic they laic successful a passionate embrace.

Amid the throes of intersexual pleasure, she ‘undulated similar a snake’. Sex would ne'er beryllium the aforesaid again.

The steamy country appeared successful Three Weeks, an erotic caller astir an unhappily joined ‘Slavic queen’ who teaches a callow younker however to marque emotion the mode a pistillate wants it to beryllium made... implicit 3 weeks.

With her waist-length, flaming reddish hair, Elinor Glyn earned a estimation arsenic a scarlet pistillate and was inundated with tiger skins by rich, almighty — and hopeful — men

The communicative and the connection whitethorn beryllium tame by modern standards but this caller was published successful 1907.

Queen Victoria was not agelong dead, virginal young brides went down the aisle without a hint astir the facts of life, and enactment and adultery were taboo.

So Three Weeks and its flamboyant author, Elinor Glyn, sparked a immense planetary ungraded — arsenic the nationalist lapped up each word.

King Edward VII wouldn’t fto the publication beryllium mentioned successful his beingness and authorities tried to prohibition it connected some sides of the Atlantic. A U.S. justice adjacent stopped copies from being sent successful the post.

With her waist-length, flaming reddish hair, Glyn earned a estimation arsenic a scarlet pistillate and was inundated with tiger skins by rich, almighty — and hopeful — men. She became the punchline for bawdy jokes and ditties.

Playwright George Bernard Shaw is credited with the astir memorable, quipping: ‘Would you similar to sin/With Elinor Glyn/On a tiger skin?/Or would you prefer/To err with her/On immoderate different fur?’

Having a transcript of Three Weeks, 1 of immoderate 50 erotic romanticist novels she wrote, became shorthand for possessing forbidden carnal knowledge.

Directors slipped it into the laps of young women successful films to signify they were ‘racy’, portion adjacent into the 1950s James Bond creator Ian Fleming gave a transcript to women helium chased to promote them to enactment connected their desires. Generations of writers including Barbara Cartland, Jackie Collins, Fifty Shades writer E.L. James and so immoderate writer of a bodice-ripper oregon bonkbuster beryllium a indebtedness to Elinor Glyn.

Romance novelist Elinor Glyn sits connected the acceptable of the 1929 newsreel "talkie" The Meaning of "It", successful which she lectures connected enactment appeal. Ms. Glyn wears a gown by Lucile, the manner plan steadfast of her sister, decorator Lady Duff-Gordon

And so, a caller biography reveals, does Hollywood.

In aboriginal life, Glyn went to California and became a ‘sex guru’ to the burgeoning manufacture and its libidinous stars.

Imparting each that her wildly palmy vocation arsenic a novelist had taught her astir however to marque enactment tasteful, she is wide credited with having invented the look and consciousness of the classical movie enactment scene.

And successful creating the conception of the ‘It Girl’ — a prima with tremendous enactment entreaty — she laid down the crushed rules for starring ladies to come.

Though her aboriginal beingness often resembled 1 of the exotically improbable plots of her books, Glyn — says writer Hilary Hallett successful Inventing The It Girl — started retired arsenic a respectable subordinate of the Home Counties landed gentry, who felt aggravated intersexual vexation implicit her passionless Edwardian marriage.

As her enactment became progressively popular, Glyn (pictured) was brought implicit from England to constitute screenplays for Hollywood, moving with well-known soundless movie actors Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino and for some MGM and Paramount Pictures

The author's impulse to constitute was calved from her husband's gambling habits which saw the mates and their 2 daughters go surrounded by indebtedness - meaning she wrote astatine slightest 1 caller a twelvemonth to support up her modular of living. Pictured, Elinor Glyn 

While she was pursued by Russian princes and American millionaires — an Egyptian pasha adjacent offered to ‘buy’ her — and she would person a agelong matter with Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, she was calved into solidly middle-class banal connected Jersey successful 1864.

Her father, Douglas Sutherland, a civilian engineer, died from typhoid fever erstwhile she was conscionable 2 months aged and her mother, Elinor, aboriginal remarried a reasonably well-off but curmudgeonly Scotsman, David Kennedy.

Watching her parent beryllium a drudge successful her matrimony reinforced Glyn’s ‘rebellious tendencies’, portion her grandma instilled successful her a snobbish admiration for the precocious classes and a determination to ascent into their ranks.

She moved to London arsenic soon arsenic she could and — assisted by a sister who had already ‘married well’ — she charmed her mode into Society.

She had galore assets — a fierce intelligence, acceptable wit, crisp elegance and an exotic quality with milk-white skin, vivid greenish eyes and a tiny waist — that each made up for her deficiency of a dowry.

A country from Three Weeks. Originally an erotic caller by Glyn astir an unhappily joined ‘Slavic queen’ who teaches a callow younker however to marque emotion the mode a pistillate wants it to beryllium made... implicit 3 weeks

But, having devoured the romanticist novels of Sir Walter Scott, she wanted to wed not lone for wealth and societal advancement but besides love.

She adjacent rejected a matrimony connection from the Duke of Newcastle. Her family, despairing, sent her to unrecorded with relatives successful Paris to spot if she could person amended luck there.

Instead she fell nether the spell of the outrageously bohemian histrion Sarah Bernhardt, who reportedly slept successful a coffin, wore dormant bats connected her hats and conducted a bid of highly publicised emotion affairs.

The pistillate who said she’d had her ‘sexual awakening’ successful liberated Paris (but not mislaid her virginity) returned to London knowing a batch much astir enactment than astir Edwardian women.

Despite her works being comparatively tame by modern standards, Glyn shocked nine erstwhile producing her archetypal caller 'Three Weeks', which centred connected a queen engaging successful an matter with an Englishman portion connected vacation

Now 27, she had to find a hubby quickly. After proceeding a communicative astir however 4 young swains had quarreled implicit who should creation with her astatine a shot and ended up pushing each different into a lake, Clayton Glyn, a affluent but spendthrift Essex squire, manoeuvred his mode into gathering her.

Four months aboriginal successful 1892, they married, honeymooned successful Brighton, wherever helium rented retired the nationalist bathhouse truthful they could aquatics bare unneurotic for 2 days, and moved into his state property adjacent Harlow.

Mr Glyn, a hunting-and-shooting benignant who was some a hopeless gambler and hopeless successful bed, proved a disappointment.

When, 2 years into the marriage, she told him 1 of his friends had propositioned her, helium replied: ‘No! Did he? Dear aged Bob!’ As joined beingness soured, she turned to writing. She became adjacent friends with her neighbour Lady Daisy Greville, the hedonistic Countess of Warwick — and 1 of Edward VII’s galore mistresses.

The countess introduced Glyn to the chaotic intersexual shenanigans of the bed-hopping British aristocracy — worldly Glyn piled into her books, which she started penning successful 1900.

Gloria Swanson, pictured circa 1925. The histrion was 1 of Glyn's 'silent surface proteges'

Those novels, adjacent parts phantasy and autobiography, allowed her to unrecorded retired intersexual passions lacking successful her marriage, arsenic her husband’s increasing fiscal woes forced her to churn retired a publication a year.

She soon discovered that cloaking intersexual contented successful luxurious surroundings — beds strewn with roseate petals, silk lingerie and, of course, tiger-skin rugs by a roaring occurrence — made it each overmuch much palatable to Edwardian readers.

Much similar Barbara Cartland and aboriginal romance novelists, Glyn’s books earned unspeakable reviews, but sold by the shedload: the steamier, the better. And they didn’t get steamier than Three Weeks.

In the book, a Slav queen known lone arsenic ‘the Lady’ takes Paul Verdayne arsenic her person and intersexual pupil arsenic they question to exotic locations specified arsenic Venice, Cairo and the Alps. She aboriginal gives commencement to Paul’s son, but lone to beryllium murdered by her huffy husband.

Glyn acknowledged millions of readers lone leafed done her pot-boilers for the enactment scenes, penning successful the preface for Three Weeks’ U.S. edition: ‘And to each who read, I say... bash not skip.’ What was new, says biographer Hilary Hallett, was however Glyn ‘painted a startlingly innovative, sensuous representation of the mode radical could person sex’.

And she ‘made explicit the spot of women’s intersexual desire’ and, for the archetypal clip successful a caller written successful English, portrayed ‘a pistillate who could instrumentality complaint of the concern and marque definite everyone had a bully time, successful and retired of bed’. Publicly astatine least, the Establishment was outraged, damning the publication arsenic immoral and inane.

It was banned successful nationalist schools, and galore libraries and bookshops. But it stayed astatine the apical of British and American bestseller lists for months, reportedly notching up 2 cardinal income successful the archetypal twelvemonth and different 5 cardinal successful a cheaper edition.

Glyn, pictured, was calved the girl of Douglas Sutherland, a civilian technologist with a Scottish inheritance who was thought to beryllium related to a Lord Duffus, and his woman Elinor Saunders, of an Anglo-French household that had settled successful Canada

Judging by the instrumentality message Glyn received from servicemen successful World War One, galore men work it, too. In New York, a millionaire sent her roomfuls of gardenias and offered her a luck if she’d wed him.

She was invited to enactment astatine the imperial Russian tribunal successful St Petersburg, wherever the Tsar’s aunt had Glyn work Three Weeks aloud to her successful her backstage rooms.

But Glyn, dubbed the Tiger Queen, was shunned by astir of her erstwhile Society friends and was stunned by their ‘stupendous hypocrisy’ successful pretending the adultery successful her publication wasn’t commonplace successful their circles.

Novelist Elinor Glyn, pictured astatine her dressing table. Glyn, dubbed the Tiger Queen, was shunned by astir of her erstwhile Society friends

It was peculiarly ironic arsenic Glyn was 1 of the fewer women successful Society who was faithful to her husband. Or astatine slightest she was for a while. In 1907, she played ‘the Lady’ successful a West End signifier accumulation of Three Weeks. The invitation-only assemblage 1 nighttime included the widowed Lord Curzon, the tall, handsome and supremely self-confident erstwhile Viceroy of India.

He was a shameless womaniser, and the adjacent time helium sent Glyn the tegument of a tiger helium had killed successful India and an invitation to tea.

Finally, she felt she’d met a antheral worthy breaking her matrimony vows for. They began an eight-year matter successful 1908, erstwhile she was 44.

Glyn's soundless surface proteges included Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow (pictured) and, due to the fact that men could person the ‘It’ factor, too, matinee idol Rudolph Valentino

He was everything she thought she wanted successful a man, including ‘a astir passionate carnal lover’.

News of her husband’s decease successful 1915 aft a agelong unwellness reached Glyn portion she was connected the Western Front during a brief, and unlikely, foray arsenic a warfare correspondent.

And yet adjacent arsenic she busied herself redecorating a state location Lord Curzon had leased for them successful Somerset, he’d started an matter with different striking redhead astir 15 years her junior.

The archetypal that Glyn, past 52, knew astir the different woman, a affluent American named Grace Duggan, was erstwhile she work astir their engagement successful The Times. Never crushed for long, Glyn, present 56, was lured retired to Hollywood successful 1920 by Paramount arsenic 1 of a bevy of writers the studios hoped would bring immoderate people to a fledgling industry.

Men could person the ‘It’ factor, too: Rudolph Valentino was 1 of Glyn's proteges

Tinseltown’s estimation for drink-sodden intersexual debauchery was blamed for a diminution successful America’s morals and ‘Madame Glyn’, arsenic she called herself, acceptable astir not lone personally styling Hollywood’s archetypal enactment symbols — however to dress, walk, speech and marque emotion — but besides however to behave with decorum off-screen.

She described the ‘It’ origin arsenic a ‘strange magnetism that attracts some sexes’. Her soundless surface proteges included Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow and, due to the fact that men could person the ‘It’ factor, too, matinee idol Rudolph Valentino.

Even surface mogul Cecil B. DeMille admitted: ‘Elinor Glyn deserves much recognition than I bash for inventing enactment appeal.’

It Girl: How Elinor Glyn Created the Modern Romance and Conquered Early Hollywood is retired now

She arrived — bringing 2 of her tiger skins — with rather a estimation and frightened the beingness retired of her caller colleagues. ‘She seemed to instrumentality implicit Hollywood,’ said Swanson. ‘She went everyplace and passed her fearsome verdicts connected everything. “This is glamorous,” she would say. “This is hideous.” Her British dignity was devastating, arsenic she baby-stepped done this oregon that eating country oregon plot party, radical moved speech for her arsenic if she was a sorceress connected fire.’

She turned a fewer of her books — including Three Weeks — into screenplays and started her ain movie accumulation company. But she didn’t person it each her ain mode — British censors demanded the crippled for the movie mentation of Three Weeks beryllium changed truthful the adultery had acold much disastrous consequences..

She near Hollywood astatine the tallness of her fame successful 1928, chiefly for taxation reasons, returning to England and apologising for her ‘money-mad, fame-obsessed’ behaviour retired successful Tinseltown.

Glyn, who died peacefully aged 78 successful 1943, spent her last years with her 2 cats. She erstwhile wore 1 of them astir her cervix arsenic a stole to talk astatine a literate luncheon.

The carnal behaved perfectly. ‘Great success,’ Glyn wrote successful her diary. The Tiger Queen inactive liked to origin a disturbance with her feline friends.

Inventing The It Girl: How Elinor Glyn Created The Modern Romance And Conquered Hollywood by Hilary A. Hallett is disposable from

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