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08 January 2019"That Woman" or "The Duchess of Style"? Time to reassess Wallis Simpson
04 December 2018The Collections of Napoleon and Josephine at Chateau de Malmaison
06 November 2018Gloriana - the portraits and images of Queen Elizabeth I
02 October 2018Colonial Architecture and Building Conservation in India
04 September 2018The English Country Church
05 June 2018Benjamin Britten 1913-1976 - a Life in Music
01 May 2018Mexico: Aztecs, Mayas and Conquistadors
03 April 2018The Founders and Treasures of the Wallace Collection
06 March 2018Constable: the Great Landscapes
06 February 2018The most infamous Family in History: the Borgias
02 January 2018A Journey through 3000 years of China's Civilisation
05 December 2017In the Bleak Midwinter: Artists' Responses to Snow
07 November 2017William Moorcroft and his legacy
03 October 2017Whitefriars Glass: a leading London Glass House 1834-1980
05 September 2017Pevsner in Hampshire
06 June 2017Punch & Judy
02 May 2017Cook to Gaugin
04 April 2017The Interwar Garden - Grand Manner to Henry Moore
07 March 2017Merrymaking and Morality: Dutch Genre Painting from Hals to Vermeer
07 February 2017Dame Laura Knight and the Newlyn School
03 January 2017Huguenot Silver in England
06 December 2016Christmas at Covent Garden
01 November 2016The Great Fire of London
04 October 2016Temples, Tombs and Treasures: In Search of the Queen of Sheba
06 September 2016When Britain Clicked: Fab Photographs from the Swinging Sixties
07 June 2016Luncheon and the AGM precede the lecture: Klimt and the Viennese Secession - "A Kiss for all the World"
03 May 2016Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting
05 April 2016“Are you sitting comfortably?” – the history of the chair from ancient to modern time
01 March 2016“In paynted pots is hidden the deadliest poison”: English Delftware drug jars
02 February 2016The World of Shakespeare
05 January 2016What really happened on Easter Island
01 December 2015Prelude to Christmas
03 November 2015Facing up to Goya – Portraits by Goya related to National Gallery exhibition, Autumn 2015
06 October 2015Romancing The Rails: British Posters. On Track with the World’s Best.
01 September 2015Life and Times of The Sundial – A Perspective on Civilisation’s Most Enduring Timekeeper
02 June 2015The Impressionists: their Art, Lives and Letters
05 May 2015Wimples to Wellingtons: a History of Dress and Fashion
07 April 2015Mirrors and Torrents: Water in Historic Gardens
03 March 2015Scotland’s ruined castles: rescued, rebuilt and reoccupied since 1945
03 February 2015Inn Signia – the artwork and the stories behind their names
06 January 2015War Artists: Paul Nash, CRW Nevinson and the Great War
02 December 2014That Pretty German Toy - Musings on the Christmas Tree
04 November 2014This won't hurt a bit! Medicine in Art throughout the Ages
07 October 2014The Art of Waterloo: to mark the bicentenary in 2015
02 September 2014From Russia: Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes
03 June 2014Three Great Families and their Gardens: the Rothschilds, the Sackville-Wests and the Astors
06 May 2014What is a Painter-Stainer? Inside an Ancient City Livery Company
01 April 2014The History of the Harp
04 March 2014Heritage of Storms: Lord Byron, his romantic inheritance and his artistic legacy
04 February 2014Habitat Catalogued
07 January 2014Italian Renaissance: Villas for the Agricultural and Cultural Elite
03 December 2013A Tudor Christmas: from Palace to Peasant
05 November 2013The Drama Behind the Taj Mahal: the life and times of the Indian Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
01 October 2013Basingstoke and its Contribution to World Culture
03 September 2013Curating the Art Museum
04 June 2013The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
07 May 2013Fanny Burney: her family and friends from diaries, letters, paintings and portraits of the day
02 April 2013The Identification of Oriental Rugs and Carpets
05 March 2013Opera Giants: the Verdi / Wagner Bicentenary
05 February 2013The China Trade: Oriental Porcelains and Works of Art
08 January 2013Royal Dukes: the Silver Collections of the Sons of George III
04 December 2012The History of Stained Glass seen through the Christmas Story
06 November 2012Looking over the Artist's Shoulder: the Italian Sketchbooks of JMW Turner
02 October 2012The World of Auctions - behind the scenes
04 September 2012Ocean Liner Art: Ships that Shaped our Lives 1800-1950
12 June 2012The Olympic Games - Chariots of Fire
01 May 2012John Singer Sargent - a Modern Van Dyck
03 April 2012Those Crazy Years: Life and Art in Paris during the Jazz Age 1920-30s
06 March 2012Jennie Churchill: Winston's American Mother: Style Icon or Ambitious Seductress?
07 February 2012Dreamtime to Machine Time: Aboriginal Art and Culture
03 January 2012A Thousand Years of History: Medieval Cathedrals as Time Machines
06 December 2011Cooking for Kings: the Life and Career of Antonin Careme, the first celebrity chef
01 November 2011Embroidered with Woodbine and Eglantine: Elizabethan Textile Furnishings
04 October 2011Britain Can Make It! The Festival of Britain and its Design Legacy
06 September 2011Laos - from Historic Buddhist Temples to Modern Silkweaving
06 June 2011Carmen - Fatal Attraction
03 May 2011Russian Art under the Last Tsar
05 April 2011From 1611-2011 - Art and the English Bible
01 March 2011Art and the Garden - Setting and Symbolism
01 February 2011A Family Affair - Florence and the House of Medici
04 January 2011The Elgin Marbles - a History of Meaning
07 December 2010Victorian Christmas through the Magic Lantern
02 November 2010Sunflowers and Old Blue - Oscar Wilde and the House Beautiful
05 October 2010Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts
07 September 2010Mother: Portraits of the Artist's Mother (who were the artists who painted their mothers?)
01 June 2010Art Inspired by Wine
04 May 2010Great Tarts in Art: High Culture and the Oldest Profession

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"That Woman" or "The Duchess of Style"? Time to reassess Wallis Simpson Anne Sebba Tuesday 08 January 2019

Anne Sebba is a biographer, historian and author of several books, who lectures to audiences in the US and UK, including the National Trust, British Library and Imperial War Museum. A former Reuters foreign correspondent, Anne is now a broadcaster and regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies including Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson. The latter, published as That Woman, was an international bestseller. Her latest book is a history of Paris between 1939-49 through women's eyes published in 2016 as Les Parisiennes How the women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940’s. Anne is a former chair of Britain's 9,000 strong Society of Authors.

The lecture is based on several years of research into why this Baltimore woman, born in 1896 into relative obscurity, was so demonised by the British establishment and wider commonwealth, accused of being a spy, prostitute or Nazi sympathiser, and yet how, after she married the ex-King and became Duchess of Windsor, she turned her exile and hatred into a platform from which to launch herself as one of the world’s best dressed woman who entertained in the most elegant homes fit for a King – or an ex-King.

Was she simply a clothes-horse for dress designers and jewellery makers or did she have a heart that has never been fairly understood? I will include many pictures in this lecture of Wallis and the clothes and jewellery she had made especially for her as well as the homes she lived in. But I will also tell the story of how, in the context of the 1930s, this woman with three husbands was unacceptable as Queen of England and of the Empire. I will explore who this woman was and what was the power she had over King Edward Vlll. Seventy five years since the Abdication in 1936, it is now time to reassess That Woman.

New members:​ join The Arts Society Test Valley at this lecture.