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Lorna Garman

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Lorna Cecilia Garman Wishart [1] (1911 - 2000) was the youngest of the seven daughters (and two sons) of Walter and Margaret Garman, an eccentric Victorian doctor, led notoriously high profile lives within mid 20th century artistic circles.

Having grown up in the bleak surroundings of the ‘Black Country’ at Oakeswell Hall, Wednesbury, in England they were prominent in London's Bohemian Bloomsbury set, between the two world wars.

The complex lives of the dazzling beauties Mary, Kathleen and Lorna included affairs and friendships with writer Vita Sackville-West; composer Ferruccio Busoni, painter Bernard Meninsky, sculptor Jacob Epstein; poet Laurie Lee and the painter Lucian Freud.

Her character may be summed up in this quote:

“Lorna, the baby of the family, was perhaps the most flamboyant of the fabulous Garmans. She wore beautiful and unusual clothes and smelled of Chanel No. 5, went riding on her horse at night, drove a chocolate-brown Bentley, and would strip naked to swim in inviting lakes or rivers or 10-metre waves. At 14 she seduced the man who would become her husband when she was 16, the publisher Ernest Wishart.”[2]

 

Ernest Wishart owned Lawrence and Wishart, the anti-fascist publisher which became the publishing house of the British Communist Party in collaboration with Douglas Garman, the party's Education Secretary.

Throughout the marriage she had affairs with, among others, writer Laurie Lee, who fathered her third child Yasmin[3] and the painter Lucian Freud for whom she modelled in many of his paintings, and for whom she brought objects such as a dead heron and a zebra head. Although she was renowned as the heartbreaker of her long-suffering husband and anguished lovers alike. Remarkably, Lee and Freud each went on to marry her nieces, Kathy Polge and Kitty Epstein.

Lorna’s quixotic character is perhaps crystallised by her comment to Laurie Lee when he announced his intention to fight in the Spanish Civil War, “…you don’t need a war because you’ve got one here.”

She ended her days a pillar of the Roman Catholic community around Arundel, in West Sussex .

See also

References

  1. Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1984-2004. Gives name at death as "Lorna Cecilia Wishart".
  2. # Connolly, Cressida (2004). The Rare and the Beautiful: The Lives Of The Garmans.
  3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article442755.ece ".

The Rare and the Beautiful: The Lives of the Garmans by Cressida Connolly, Fourth Estate

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