Tuesday, November 9, 2010

book week: a private world

The first person I asked to stop by this week is my dear friend Keith MacKay (better known to some as KDM), curator of Ten Chimneys in Wisconsin. He has quietly, but brilliantly entered the world of blogging, writing the official Ten Chimneys Foundation Preservation Blog (and when you are done here, please hop over there!). Keith began his extraordinary library of art, architecture and decorative arts books at a young age ~ and the towers of tomes that now furnish his apartment in the place of furniture are a real treat to peruse. I am thrilled he has agreed to share a little piece of it with us today:

Naturally, this question has been a tortuous one and I have lost hours of sleep trying to select just one book . . . but, there is nothing like your first love. Hugo Vickers' The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was a revelation. In 1996 when I found this book I was a junior in high school, working for minimum wage and purchasing this handsome volume was a huge investment: I essentially spent my entire savings to buy it. But it was worth it. The Private World provided hours of escapism and delight to a lonely gay teen growing up in rural Minnesota.

Vickers’ work includes a thoughtful biographical narrative of two significant (and still polarizing) style icons, along with an exploration of their elegant grace-and-favor house in Paris near the Bois de Boulogne with interiors designed by Jansen. While the book is not perfect (it would be nice to have a more academically-crafted text when it comes to the analysis of the Windsor's interiors), Vickers introduced me to people with names like Mona Bismark, Emerald Cunard, Daisy Fellowes, Diana Vreeland, Charles de Beistegui. Needless to say the pages of my copy are well worn.


(photographs: by William Vandivert, for Life Magazine, January 1939)

5 comments:

ArchitectDesign™ said...

One of my favorite choices as well, although I'm not fortunate enough to have my own copy :-(

John J Tackett said...

Perhaps it will eventually come out in paperback. But there is a new book in the works about the D & D of W that promises to be even better than Mr Vickers' tome.

The Down East Dilettante said...

What a wonderful post--and I can relate oh so much...

Janet said...

Stefan ~ we'll have to rectify that!

John ~ am intrigued to know more about this upcoming book...

DED ~ I believe you and KDM are kindred spirits in many ways.

little augury said...

Hugo Vickers has guided so many of us-this telling is wonderful. Wasn't it true the high value we placed on those initial book purchases. Great book too- and who says you can't buy friends? pgt