Monday, January 24, 2011

The Jersey Lily

No, I'm not going to talk about Snooki. And I'm not talking about New Jersey, I'm talking about Old Jersey... as in Great Britain.

Born Emilie Charlotte Le Bretonon on the island of Jersey, the later named Lillie Langtry was a British actress, socialite, and temptress of the Victorian era. She was known for her incredible wit and beauty; which would gain her the nickname The Jersey Lily.

She was also a lady who, shall we say, "got around."

When she was 20 years old, she married Irish landowner, Edward Langtry. He moved her from Jersey to a London, where she became introduced to the arts community. While out one evening, she caught the eye of painter Frank Miles who begged her to sit for a portrait. She did so. Later the painting would catch the eye of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward.
Prince Albert Edward invited Langtry to a dinner party where he arranged to sit next to her while her husband sat at the other end of the table. Pretty sneaky. The prince proceeded to dote upon and flirt with Lillie. Oh, and his wife was there at the same table. Classy.
Lillie and the Prince began an affair. He even bought her a house where they could have some "alone time." The affair dwindled, however, when the actress Sandra Bernhardt came on the scene, Prince-y pulled a Brangelina and dumped Lillie. Out with the old, in with the new.
Undaunted, Lillie moved on to another prince- Prince Louis of Battenburg. At the same time, however, she began a love affair with an old friend, Arthur Clearance Jones. In June of 1880, she became pregnant. Safe to say, the baby was not her husband Edward's...remember Edward? Although, she was pretty sure the baby was Arthur Jones', she extorted money from Prince Louis and fled to Paris to shack up with Jones. Atta girl.

In 1881, she gave birth to her daughter, Jeanne Marie.

After the birth of her baby, Lillie began an acting career herself, based on the encouragement of her good friend Oscar Wilde. See, every woman needs a good gay BFF:) Her career began to take off and she soon embarked on a theatre tour of the U.S. Langtry also used her high profile to become one of the first ever example of celebrity endorsement. She became the face of Pears soap.

From 1882-189, Lillie developed a relationship with American millionaire and race horse enthusiast, Frederic Gebhard. In 1897 she applied for U.S. citizenship and divorced her husband Edward...remember Edward?

Next, she moved on to wine making and bought a winery in Lake County, California. A few months later, Edward died. She would later write to a friend: "I too have lost a husband, but alas, it was no great loss." Poor Edward.

In 1899, she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe, another millionaire, horse-racing enthusiast. She then sold the winery and moved to Monaco with him. She lived in a house a few blocks away from her husband's house. She would invite him over for social functions once in a while, but that was pretty much all she wanted from him. Lillie died in Monaco in 1929 after a long and very busy life.

And here's a necklace feature the fabulous, scandalous Lillie:
(you can buy it at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/66593721/lillie-langtry-necklace-retro-steampunk )


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