Anita Leslie

Anita Theodosia Moira Rodzianko King (1914-1985), known as Anita Leslie, was the daughter of Shane Leslie and sister to Desmond Leslie. Her upbringing was at Castle Leslie in Ireland, though much of her time was spent abroad in various schools and convents where she received what has been described as an "abysmal" education.

Best known as a biographer, Anita Leslie published her first book, Rodin: Immortal Peasant in 1937. Anita Leslie used her familial connections to access private papers and archives not open to just any writer, and many of the subjects of her books were relatives on her mother's side of the family. In The Remarkable Mr. Jerome (1954), Anita recounted the life of her great-grandfather, Leonard Jerome, father of Jennie, who at 20 had married a son of the Duke of Marlborough. Other works included: Mrs. Fitzherbert (1960), about the secret wife of George IV; Lady Randolph Churchill (1969), the story of Jennie Jerome, Anita’s great aunt, and mother of Sir Winston Churchill; two works about her grandmother, Leonie Jerome Leslie including, Edwardians in Love (1972) and The Marlborough House Set (1973), as well other books about the family’s Churchill connection. Using her familial connections, Anita was able to access friends, family members, and private papers for her research.

Anita’s autobiographical works captured her wanderlust spirit. The Gilt and the Gingerbread (1981) described her childhood and desire to serve in the war effort. Train to Nowhere (1948), detailed her service as an ambulance driver serving on four fronts during WWII. This work, though published in 1948, was recently reviewed in The Guardian and acclaimed as “a remarkable World War II memoir” and praised for its “calm, youthful candour, its forthright acceptance of the whole duty of war service.” Anita continued to write and travel after marrying Bill King (d. 2012) whom she met in 1943 while he was stationed in Beirut. Love in a Nutshell (1952) recounted their 5-month Caribbean cruise aboard a 24-foot waterline ocean racer. A later work, Francis Chichester (1975), was possibly inspired by Bill who shared Chichester’s interest in solo navigation around the world. Anita and Bill resided in Ireland at Oranmore Castle, on Galway Bay until her death in 1985.




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