Secrets of Baltimore's Duchess of Windsor Revealed- Author to Speak on June 23

07-Jun-2011 | News-Press Release

Baltimore, Maryland (June1, 2011) – One of the greatest love stories of the twentieth century, the marriage of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, was not what it seems.  On Thursday June 23rd, 2011 British royal biographer Hugo Vickers will speak on his latest book, Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. in Baltimore at 6:00 pm.  Through a combination of meticulous research and an intense fascination with his subject, Vickers will tell a tale whose dramatic impact has only increased with time. His lecture will be followed by a book signing and reception.  Fees are $35 for MdHS members, $50 for non-members.  For more information or to RSVP by June 16th, contact 410-685-3750 ext. 337 or


The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, a Baltimore native, has been criticized since 1936 as a racy divorcee and sexual temptress.  The controversial and sometimes hated Duchess is considered the sole cause of King Edward VIII’s abdication.  However, Vickers sheds light on a new perspective.


With the help of previously unpublished papers and personal testaments, he tells the tale of a marriage that was more a tragedy than a romance.  She did not want to be queen and tried to stop him from abdicating when she realized all he was giving up.  As Edward announced his abdication, she listened horror-struck, moaning in misery under a blanket.  Trapped, Simpson made success of a marriage to a man whose death would only bring her greater trouble. 


In particular, Vickers focuses on the last years of Simpson’s life, which were spent laying in bed in a vegetative state and attached to a life-support machine.  She had few friends, even fewer relations, and “almost ceased to exist as a person.”  He reveals the cold truth about the ruthless exploitation of a vulnerable old woman by her unscrupulous lawyer, Suzanne Blum, who acted against Simpson’s wishes, stole as well as gave away many of her treasures and appointed herself to speak on Simpson’s “behalf.”  Vickers portrays Simpson not as a villain, but a victim.  According to him, the relationship between Blum and Wallis was “one of the most sinister…ever formed between lawyer and client.”


Jane Ridley praises Vickers’s book in Literary Review: “Vickers’s account of the Duchess’s long, horrific death and Blum’s machinations is a page-turner, piling on detail after grisly detail,” a book with a “gripping sense of urgency.”


Frances Wilson of The Daily Telegraph reflects, “With a lifetime’s interest in his subject, Vickers knows all there is to know about the Windsors.”  It “is a story of a personal journey into the world of the Windsors in which Vickers quotes from nearly 40 years of his own diary entries.  It is also a hugely entertaining account…”


Vickers was educated at Eton and Strasbourg University.  He is an acknowledged expert on the Royal Family, appears regularly on television, and has lectured all over the world.  At the age of twelve, when most children his age were in thrall to the Beatles, Vickers was a fan of the Duchess of Windsor.  He was the royal wedding consultant for the Associated Press on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  His books include Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough (1979); Cecil Beaton (1985); Vivien Leigh (1988); Loving Garbo 1994); The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (1995); Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece (2000); and Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (2005).  His book, The Kiss, won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen for Non-fiction. 


The Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844 and is the world’s largest museum and library dedicated to the history of Maryland. Occupying an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore, the society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled “Maryland Historical Magazine.” More information about the Maryland Historical Society can be found online at


Photo cut line: Renowned historian, writer and royal biographer Hugo Vickers is the author of the newly released book Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor.  He will be speaking at the Maryland Historical Society on June 23rd about his latest book on the life of Wallis Simpson, a Baltimore native and the late Duchess of Windsor.


For a photo of the Duchess contact Marc Apter: The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson was a Baltimore native and the wife of King Edward VIII.  She is often considered the reason for his abdication.  Simpson is the subject of Hugo Vickers’ latest book, Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor.



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