Gladys Marie Spencer-Churchill (Deacon)
|Birthplace:||Hotel Brighton, Paris|
|Death:||Died in Northamptonshire, UK|
Daughter of Edward Parker Deacon and Florence Deacon
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Gladys Marie Deacon
Born in Paris, Gladys Marie Deacon was the daughter of American citizens Edward Deacon and his wife Florence, daughter of Admiral Charles H. Baldwin. She had three sisters and a brother who died in infancy. Her father was imprisoned after shooting her mother's lover to death in 1892 and the girl was sent to school at the Convent de l’Assomption at Auteuil.
After Edward's release from prison, Florence abducted Gladys from the convent. The couple was divorced in 1893 and the custody of the three older children, including Gladys, was given to Edward. He took them to the United States, where Deacon remained for the next three years. Edward Deacon soon became mentally unstable and was hospitalised at McLean Hospital, dying there in 1901. Deacon and her sisters returned to France to live with their mother. Marcel Proust wrote of her: "I never saw a girl with such beauty, such magnificent intelligence, such goodness and charm."
Relationship with Marlborough
In the late 1890s, the Duke of Marlborough invited Deacon to Blenheim Palace and she became friends with his wife Consuelo. In 1901, the Crown Prince of Prussia visited the palace and took a strong liking to her, giving her a ring that the Kaiser demanded to be returned. At the age of 22, Deacon underwent a plastic surgery attempt in which she had her nose injected with paraffin wax; it slipped, destroying her famous good looks. Deacon became the Duke's mistress soon after moving into the palace. However, Marlborough and Consuelo did not divorce until 1921. Deacon and Marlborough were married in Paris later that year.
Artistic and a keen gardener, the new Duchess of Marlborough had enlarged images of her startling blue-green eyes painted on the ceiling of the main portico of Blenheim Palace, where they remain today. Later in their unhappy, childless marriage, she kept a revolver in her bedroom to prevent her husband's entry. As her behaviour became increasingly erratic, most noticeably following the Duke's conversion to Roman Catholicism, the couple began drifting apart. The Duchess pursued her hobby of breeding Blenheim Spaniels, much to her husband's displeasure. Finally, the duke moved out of the palace, and two years later evicted her. He died in 1934.
Widowhood and death
The Dowager Duchess of Marlborough moved with her dogs first to north Oxfordshire and later to the Grange Farm at Chacombe. She started retreating from the world and eventually became a complete recluse. By 1962, she had become mentally ill, much like her father and paternal grandmother, and was forcibly moved to St Andrew's Hospital, where she died, aged 96.