Name: (Joyce) Marion WALLACE
Given Name: (Joyce) Marion
Birth: 24 Jan 1923 in Shanghai
Death: 3 Jan 2006
Change Date: 13 May 2006 at 21:09
FILE: C:\Documents and Settings\David\My Documents\My Pictures\Family Tree Pictures\Marion Wallace.jpg
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Marion Wrottesley, who died on January 24 aged 83, was a raucously effervescent and flighty figure, equally at home in the fleshpots of Spain and the bedsitters of Kensington and Chelsea.
Egotistical, eventually penniless, but continuously alluring, she married the heir to a barony and hobnobbed with everyone from Somerset Maugham to the Kray twins, but had no worldly ambitions other than to flaunt her own charms and to express her hatred of hypocrisy.
One of the high points of her life came in the mid-1950s when she lived in Spain and London with the writer Alec Waugh, who gave her a Cisitalia sports car, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and wrote about her in his much re-printed novel Fuel for the Flame (1960).
Joyce Marion Wallace was born on January 3 1923 in Shanghai, where her father, Dare Wallace, was director-general of Burmah Oil and a China hand of the third generation. His daughter later boasted that the Wallaces were one of the few British families not involved in the opium trade.
At the age of seven Marion was shipped off to England, but her education at a girls' school in the Cotswolds was swiftly terminated when an aunt heard another pupil say "Pardon". She was transferred to the more exclusive Felixstowe Ladies' College, where she learnt to dance and play the piano.
Back in Shanghai in 1940, aged only 17, she married Sean Rainey, an Irishman then serving as a private in the Seaforth Highlanders. This was partly a strategic move to get out of China: the Raineys duly moved to Australia, where Marion had powerful cousins in the Fairfax family, owners of the Sydney Morning Herald, and then to Bangalore. Here two children were born, and young Mrs Rainey served briefly as recruiting officer for the Black Watch while learning about "the sins of gin" and how to mix dry martinis.
Such skills made her welcome when she arrived as a young divorced woman in austere post-war London and fell in with upper-class rebels such as the Labour minister's daughter Lydia Noel-Burton, who always carried on her person two kippers and a bottle of gin.
In 1949 Marion met an Old Harrovian, Dick Wrottesley, in the Bag of Nails nightclub. The heir to Lord Wrottesley reputedly locked her in the lavatory until she had agreed to marry him.
In spite of blissful summers at Wrottesley, near Wolverhampton, where the family had lived for 900 years, and the birth of their son Mark, the marriage broke down quickly. Dick Wrottesley had already told his wife: "I only married you for your tarty qualities."
By this time, Marion had inherited £30,000 and would use this, then-substantial, nest egg to settle in Spain with her Rainey children, Michael and Shelagh. In 1953 she acquired a 13-bedroom house at Soller, on Majorca.
Plans to turn this into a hotel fell through, and she moved to a suburban villa near Palma. She soon re-located to Tangiers, then largely undiscovered, and became a regular at the Rif Hotel and Deans Bar.
A year later she re-surfaced among the bullfighting crowd at Torremolinos, then dominated by Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. Here the rich American expatriate Rose O'Malley-Keyes gave her the nickname "Pinkie", on account of the colour she had started dying her hair. By now Marion Wrottesley was an unstoppable social force, instantly finding the party circuit in any resort and drawing attention to herself by flirting with every man in the room. During a spell in Madrid, where she was tagged "Hi-fidelity", she grabbed the microphone at the Castellana Hilton, sang Blue Moon and attempted to do the strip.
She shared her life with Evelyn Waugh's brother while he was writing his novel Island in the Sun (1956). As well as buying her the 1946 Cisitalia 202 sports car, which she claimed could run only on aeroplane fuel, he introduced her to Somerset Maugham, with whom she argued, and Cyril Connolly, with whom she woke up in bed.
In the early 1960s Marion returned penniless to "Swinging London" where, in 1964, her son Michael would open the fashionable outfitters Hung on You on Chelsea Green. At the reception following Michael Rainey's marriage to Jane Ormsby-Gore, Marion was assured by the bride's father, Lord Harlech, that his own family was "full of pisspots". On learning that Brian Jones and Keith Richards were also present, she declared: "I must find myself a Rolling Stone." By this date, Marion's daughter Shelagh had already married the sprightly David Tennant, who had founded the Gargoyle Club in the 1920s.
During this era Marion also formed a close bond with her playboy stepson Richard Wrottesley, who first hit the headlines in 1966 when his Bentley was found upside down in the snow outside the Palace Hotel at St Moritz. At his regency-style flat in St James's Street, young "Wrotters" introduced his stepmother to his less respectable friends, such as the East End gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray.
For the remainder of her life, Marion Wrottesley lived mainly in bedsitters in Chelsea, Kensington, Earl's Court and further afield. Though a gifted story-teller and remarkably well-read - Cyril Connolly's Unquiet Grave was her favourite book - she never gave in to pressure from Charles Graves and other luminaries to write her memoirs. Instead she flourished on National Assistance - her card was crudely marked "Alcoholism" - and became a character in London pubs such as the Star in Belgrave Mews West and the Wellington in Portobello Road, where she began the day with Fernet Branca or Carlsberg Special.
Taxi drivers fell in love with her and carried her free; she bowled over a young businessman by remarking that he looked like "a murderer in a French film"; and, however bumpy the night, she never lost her door keys.
Marion Wrottesley dyed her hair red to the end, and quickly discarded couture clothes given her by friends and family in favour of more seductive attire.
She never sought respectability but found affection in many quarters. During her final days she complimented a hospital nurse on her legs and urged her to flaunt them. She also retained an honesty about herself. Told that she would meet all her old friends in Heaven, she replied: "I think I'm going to do a little wandering first."
Marion Wrottesley is survived by her children, Michael and Shelagh, and by at least a dozen handsome and intelligent grandchildren who include the fashion stylist Ramona Rainey. Her son Mark Wrottesley died while serving in the Rhodesian Army.
Father: Dare Frederick Alexander WALLACE b: Q3 1885 in Southampton, Hants
- Change Date:
13 May 2006
- Living RAINEY
- Living RAINEY
Richard John WROTTESLEY b: 7 Jul 1918
- Divorced: Y
9 Dec 1949
- Change Date:
5 Apr 2006
- Mark WROTTESLEY b: 1951