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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Garman Sisters

Roy Campbell wrote in 1934: "No other contemporary woman ever had so much poetry, good, bad and indifferent, written about them, or had so many portraits and busts made of them." Campbell was talking about the Garman sisters. This included:

Lorna Garman married the publisher Edward Wishart at 16. She also had affairs with the novelist, Llewelyn Powys, the poet, Laurie Lee and the artist Lucian Freud. All three produced work inspired by their relationship with her. Peggy Guggenheim, the lover of her brother, Douglas Garman, claimed: "Lorna was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She had enormous blue eyes, long lashes and auburn hair." Lorna also had an affair with the musician, Leslie (Hutch) Hutchinson.

Mary Garman married the poet Roy Campbell. Her beauty inspired some of Campbell’s best poetry. He told a friend: "I should never be half the writer I am, I'm afraid, if it weren't for her.” Mary had an affair with Vita Sackville-West who at the time was married to Harold Nicolson and was having a sexual relationship with Virginia Woolf. This relationship resulted in several sonnets by Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando. Mary also had an affair with the ballerina, Jeanne Hewitt, the wife of her brother, Douglas Garman. Mary also had a passionate sexual relationship with the writer, Uys Krige. As well as inspiring poems by Krige, Mary, a talented artist, produced an impressive nude portrait of her lover. It is also possible that she had affairs with the poet, Hart Crane, the painter Tristram Hillier and the Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty, who Anna Campbell described as the "best-looking man she had ever seen, and one of the wildest."

Kathleen Garman became the mistress of the sculptor, Jacob Epstein, when she was only nineteen. Over the next few years she gave birth to three children. Although Epstein remained married and had a string of mistresses, she remained loyal to him. Kathleen was his main model and inherited all of his unsold work when he died in 1959. Kathleen was painted by Augustus John and inspired the poetry of Samuel Menashe.

Two other sisters also had active sex lives. Ruth had an affair with Leslie (Hutch) Hutchinson whereas Sylvia is believed to have been Lawrence of Arabia’s only female lover.

Lorna Garman

Kathleen Garman

Mary Garman

Douglas Garman

Walter Garman

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