The Duchess of Windsor

Michael Bloch, Author St. Martin's Press $27.5 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-15115-7
This is a highly sympathetic biography of Wallis Warfield (1896-1986), the American woman for whom, in 1936, Edward VIII gave up the English throne, thus becoming the Duke of Windsor. Bloch (Wallis and Edward-Letters, 1931-37), who was one of the Duchess's legal representatives before her death, quotes at length from her letters and covers information published elsewhere, including the story of Wallis's first two marriages and her love affair with Edward. He details how the hostility of the duke's brother and successor, George VI, and his wife to the Windsors resulted in their self-imposed exile from England. Bloch, however, does make the startling claim, based on little evidence, that Wallis remained a virgin until her death. He theorizes that, because of her masculine appearance, she may not have had a distinct gender at birth. Bloch glosses over the Windsors' sympathy for Hitler and maintains that they were ""moderately"" rather than ""extremely"" rich. Photos include some previously unpublished. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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