Caroline Blackwood

1931- [otherwise Lady Caroline Blackwood]; b. 16 July, Co. Down, Ulster; dg. and eldest child of Marquess of Dufferin and Ava [4th Marquis] and Maureen née Guinness; a descendent of R. B. Sheridan through Thomas Sheridan the Younger, and Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin; raised at Clandeboye and terrorised by nanny; m. Lucien Freud, with whom three dgs. (poss. one by Ivan Moffat); later became 3rd wife of Robert Lowell, with whom a son; resided with him at her house on Redcliffe Sq., London, with a country house in Kent issued For All that I Found There (1974), stories, autobiographical pieces, and journalism; first novel, The Stepdaughter (1976), a short novel about the emotional neglect of a girl by a deserted wife; Great Granny Webster (1977), a black comedy dealing with cruelty and madness in an Ulster big house setting, became a best-seller; The Fate of Mary Rose (1981) describes a murder in factual and psychological detail; Goodnight Sweet Ladies (1983), stories; On the Perimeter (1984), account of the occupation of Greenham Common by feminists opposed to nuclear arms; Corrigan (1984), recounting the effects of a crippled but charismatic Irishman’s intrusion into the house of an elderly widow, Davina Blunt; she lost a daughter to heroin; as late example of Big House theme; Last of the Duchess is an exposé of the Duke of Windsor’s wife and relict; d. of cancer. DIW OCIL

[ top ]

For All That I Found (London: Duckworth 1973), 143pp. [var. 1974]; Great Granny Webster (London: Duckworth 1977; Palm Books 1993 ), 135pp. On the Perimeter (London: Flamingo 1984), 112pp.; The Stepdaughter (London: Duckworth 1976), 100pp. In the Pink: Caroline Blackwood on Hunting (London: Bloomsbury 1987); The Fate of Mary Rose (London: Duckworth 1981; Penguin 1982), Corrigan (London: Heinemann 1984; NY: Viking/Penguin 1985); with Anne Haycraft, Good Night Sweet Ladies (London: Heinemann 1983); Darling, You Shouldn’t have Gone to So Much Trouble (London: Cape 1980; Futura 1984), 224pp., ill. Zé; The Last of the Duchess (London: Picador 1996), var. 1995. COMM, Great Granny Webster cited in John Cronin, Anglo-Irish Novel (1980), Preface.

Journalism incls. review of Dawn Langley Simmons, Dawn: A Charleston Legend (Wyrick & Co. [1995]), as ‘A Crisis of Identity’, in Sunday Times, Books, ‘Biography’, 7.5 [q.d.], with caption: Caroline Blackwood discovers the deep dark secret of the woman who lived as a man for 30 years, inherited a fortune, and was adopted by the veteran actress Margaret Rutherford’.

[ top ]

Nancy Schoenberger, Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood (London: [] 2001), 226pp.; see also Lorna Sage, Bad Blood (2001), an autbiography of family and growing apart.

Gabrielle Annan
, reviewing Nancy Schoenberger, Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood (2001), 226pp., in Times Literary Supplement (6 July 2001), p.25, gives details: Lady Caroline Blackwood; b. 1931, dg. and eldest child of Marquess of Dufferin and Ava and Maureen née Guinness; raised at Clandeboye; terrorised by nanny; m. Lucian Freud, Israel Citkowitz, with whom three dgs. (poss. one by Ivan Moffat), and Robert Lowell ,with whom a son; shared with him her house on Redcliffe Sq., London, and a country house in Kent while he ‘commuted grumpily to Essex University where the students wanted him to analyse the best lyrics of Bob Dylan and the Beatles’ (Annan); ‘what made her mesmeric was not just her beauty, but her wit, funniness, and her tragic, nihilistic insight which went like a dagger into character and motive. Her writing is often hilarious, and always black.’; d. cancer. Remarks that Schoenberger’s ‘own input is not distinguished enough for her subject.; quotes Lorna Sage (Bad Blood): ‘Caroline hired a succession of more-or-less disastrous people ranging from superannuated hippies to drunken professional butler-and-housekeeper double acts to do the cooking, housework, &c.; in London she ate out or picknicked [...] and ocasionally got contract cleaners in. She lived for the most part in grand squalor [ … but] the conversation was marvellous and went on well into the night.’; quotes Robert Lowell: ‘I’m manic and Caroline’s panic. We’re like two eggs cracking.’ Lowell died in a taxi on his way to Hardwick’s house on leaving Caroline; attachment to Andrew Harvey, Oxford don; speaks of the ‘macabre factoid fairy tale The Last of the Duchess in which she tries but fails ton interview the dying Duchess of Windsor.’

Books in Print (1994), For All That I Found Duckworth 1973 143pp. 0715 6076 0 X; Great Granny Webster Duckworth 1977 135pp. 0156 1190 9, rep. Palm Books 1993 1898 4360 3 7; On the Perimeter Flamingo 1984 112pp. 0006 5412 3 2; The Stepdaughter Duckworth 1976 100pp. 0715 6096 7 X; In the Pink, Caroline Blackwood on Hunting Bloomsbury 1987 0 7475 0050 9; The Fate of Mary Rose London: Duckworth 1981; Penguin 1982 0 14 00 60163 4; Corrigan London: Heinemann 1984; NY: Viking/Penguin 1985, 1986 0 14 007732 1; with Anne Haycraft, Good Night Sweet Ladies Heinemann 1983 0434 07465 9; Darling, You Shouldn’t have Gone to So Much Trouble (London: Cape 1980), 224pp., ill. Zé 224 01834 5; rep. Futura 1984, 0 7088 2622 9.

University of Ulster Library holds For All That I Found There JORD 828.9108 BLA; Perimeter, JORD 355.03.BLA; Fate of Mary Rose (1981), PR 6052.L3423 F6; Great Granny Webster (1977), 828.9108.BLA; Stepdaughter, 823.9108 BLA.

[ top ]

: Possessions of Maureen Dufferin and Ava, auctioned at Christies, March 1999; a sister of Oonagh Oranmore and Browne and Aileen Plunket, and a renowned young society figure in the London of the 1930s, she married the 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava who died in Burma in 1945; lived to 90; spent last 60 years at Hans Crescent' also a home in Costa Smeralda in Sardinia called Casa Mureena (to her 'Villa Costalotta'); sale objects incl. portrait of Elizabeth Linley, wife of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an oil copied from the original of Reynolds (1783) by Hon. Diana Jane Pery, dg. of Edmond Sexton, Viscount Pery of Limerick and Speaker of the Irish Parliament, 1771-1785; long held in family of Earl of Ranfurly, whom she married; purchased at Christie's by Maureen Dufferin in 1939 for £2.12.00, and now workd £3,-4,000; also a portrait of Sheridan by Reynolds, valued at £30-50,000; lotion and potion glasses; silver coffee set and George III dishrings, as well as Italian gilt and painted commodes, silver-mounted tortoise desk calander, and a lock of Mary Queen of Scots' hair given to a supporter before the battle of Langside, May 1568, and descended to Maureen Dufferin through her grandmother, a larger piece of hair from which it comes remaining at Holyrood Palace. (Irish Times, 15 March 1999.)

Portrait: There is a photograph of Caroline Blackwood with Elizabeth Bowen, Cyril Connolly and Joy Craig at a christening party for Connolly’s son, rep. in Patricia Craig, Elizabeth Bowen [Live of Modern Women] (Harmondsworth Penguin 1986).

[ top ]