Hugo Vickers seemed destined to become Cecil Beaton’s biographer. Aged fourteen, he “stole” his mother’s copy of Beaton’s The Glass of Fashion and, still in his teens, he attended the Beaton exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1968 and another at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1971. He saw Beaton with Lady Diana Cooper at the Duke of Windsor’s funeral in 1972, and in 1979 he glimpsed a “very, very old man” at a wedding who turned out to be Beaton, by then in his mid-seventies and partly crippled by a 1974 stroke. That same year, Beaton, impressed by Vickers’s biography of Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough (revised and republished in 2020 as The Sphinx and reviewed by Simon Heffer in The New Criterion of March 2020), suggested Vickers as a...

 

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