Gabriele Annan

  • Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild edited by Joan Littlewood
    Cape, 247 pp, £10.95, June 1984, ISBN 0 224 02208 3
  • I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir by Jean MacGibbon
    Gollancz, 182 pp, £10.95, May 1984, ISBN 0 575 03412 2

Imagine a mixture of Maurice Chevalier (Gallic charm), Max Miller (the Cheeky Chappie), and Don Juan, with a boastful list of sexual conquests on which contesse, baronesse, marchesine, principesse line up with famous literary and theatrical ladies as well as top professionals in another field. The man is also a racing driver, yachtsman, avant-garde theatre and film producer, poet, translator of Elizabethan verse and Christopher Fry, and the inventor of the windscreen-wiper, starlight electric bulbs and château bottling, not to speak of his being a Rothschild. He owns Château Mouton Rothschild, which he raised to the rank of a premier cru by means of hard work and a craftily fought campaign against the other five who wanted to keep him out. He also established a wine museum at Mouton, not the usual mouldering old presses and dusty glass cases full of corks and tasters, but a beautiful pleasure dome filled with works of art connected with wine.

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