Blanch, Lesley 1904-2007

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Blanch, Lesley 1904-2007

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born June 6, 1904, in London, England; died May 7, 2007, in Menton, France. Author. An adventurous traveler and author best known for her 1954 biography, The Wilder Shores of Love, Blanch possessed a love of faroff places that was hard to match. The daughter of an intellectual father who was an art expert, she grew frustrated with his preference for talk over action and desired a more exciting life for herself. Blanch was inspired by a friend of the family who regaled her with his stories of travel; later, when she was a teenager, she had an affair with the older man and was about to marry him when he disappeared forever. Blanch originally studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, was married and divorced, and was a features editor for British Vogue during the late 1930s and early 1940s. She married again in 1945, this time to a writer and member of the French diplomatic service named Romain Gary. His job took him all over the world, and Blanch traveled with him, eventually ending up in Hollywood, California. Here she met a number of actors, one of whom, Jean Seberg, gained Gary's eye. Gary divorced Blanch in 1963 to marry Seberg, but the two met an ignominious end, both committing suicide. The personal setback seemed a sidebar adventure in Blanch's fast-paced life. She already won acclaim for The Wilder Shores of Love, as well as the biography The Sabres of Paradise (1960), both books revealing her passion for the exotic Middle East. The author did not limit herself to this region of the world, however, and traveled throughout Asia and Central America. This lifestyle inspired further biographies, such as Pavilions of the Heart: The Four Walls of Love (1974) and Farah, Shabanou of Iran (1978); in addition, she wrote the novel The Nine Tiger Man: A Tale of Low Behavior in High Places (1965) and travel books, such as Under a Lilac-Bleeding Star: Travels and Travellers (1964) and From Wilder Shores: The Tables of My Travels (1989). Blanch once remarked that her urge to wander was spurred on by a desire to see more color and to escape the progress of society, which she did not favor.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, May 12, 2007, Section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, May 11, 2007, p. C10.

Times (London, England), May 10, 2007, p. 67.