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Lee Miller: The Inspiration Behind Jessica May

Added: 20.07.2019 20:42 | 2 views | 0 comments

As I mention in the Author’s Note at the back of The Paris Orphan, I first heard of Lee Miller when I was researching my previous book, . There was a throwaway line in an article that mentioned Miller and other female war correspondents who, after World War II had ended, had not been able to continue working as serious journalists because the men had returned from overseas and taken all of the available jobs.

It caught my attention. What would it have been like to report on a war and then come home to America and be assigned completely different work? After the war, Lee Miller was relegated to photographing fashion or celebrities during the winter season at Saint-Moritz. She was also an occasional contributor of recipes for Vogue.

That article was the start of my fascination with her. I went looking for more. And I found a story so incredible I couldn’t help but be inspired by it.

Miller the Photojournalist

Miller was a photojournalist for Vogue during World War II. She took some extraordinary photographs: she stumbled upon the battle for Saint-Malo in France and photographed the U.S. Army’s first use of napalm there. She reported from Paris, Luxembourg, Alsace, Colmar, Aachen, Cologne, Frankfurt and Torgau, among other places. She was one of the first to document the horrors of the Dachau concentration camp. And she was the subject of an iconic photograph, bathing in Hitler’s bathtub in his Munich apartment, having left her filthy boots to drop the dirt of Dachau, as she put it, all over the Fuhrer’s pristine white bathroom.

Miller the Model

But Lee Miller started on the other side of the lens. She was discovered by Condé Nast on the streets of Manhattan and became a famous model for magazines like Vogue during the 1920s. I decided to use this as the starting point for my character, Jessica May, as I was fascinated by that transition. How did a woman who was so obviously beautiful manage in the male and often chauvinistic environment of an army during a war?

Just as Condé Nast discovers Lee Miller, he also discovers Jess in The Paris Orphan and Jess is one of his favorite models, as Miller was. However, to suit my story better, I moved time forward to begin Jess’s modeling career in the early 1940s.

Miller’s modeling career ended when a photograph of her was used by Kotex in an advertisement for sanitary pads. It’s so hard to imagine that this could end a career, but it did. To be seen as the “Kotex Girl” was a stigma so dreadful that no magazine wanted to use pictures of Miller again. So Miller moved to France, where she became Man Ray’s lover. He helped her develop her photography skills and she became a well-regarded surrealist photographer.

I used these elements when creating Jess’s character too. Jess has to stop modeling after a photograph of her is used by Kotex, Jess has a French photographer as a lover, and solarization is a trademark of her work, as it was Miller’s.

The Intersection of Fiction and Reality

Miller actually reported for British Vogue during the war, although many of her pieces appeared in American Vogue too. For ease of the story, I have Jess working for American Vogue in The Paris Orphan.

Jess follows in Miller’s footsteps in The Paris Orphan, working out of a field hospital when she first arrives in France after D-Day. I have given the room used by Lee Miller at the Hotel Scribe in Paris to Jess, complete with a balcony piled high with fuel cans and an acquaintance with Picasso. Miller is called la femme soldatby the joyful Parisians after the city is liberated, as is Jess. Miller stays at Hitler’s apartment in Munich and is photographed in Hitler’s bath, as is Jess in The Paris Orphan.

After the War

One of the most heartbreaking parts of Miller’s story is what happened to her after the war. She suffered from post-traumatic stress after viewing and recording so many horrors, and she tried to forget that she was ever a witness to war and all its atrocities. So effective was she at excising this from her past that, when she died at age seventy, her son, Roland Penrose, had no idea of what she had done during the war. Her work was largely forgotten.

One day, Penrose’s wife found boxes of photographs and films in the attic at Farley Farm, Miller’s home. They contained Miller’s correspondence with her Vogue editor and wartime paraphernalia. Penrose immediately understood that he had made an incredible discovery, that his mother had been a true artist, and that her words and pictures had—once upon a time, until she let the world forget them—meant something.

He resurrected Lee Miller and her work. She is now widely regarded as one of the world’s preeminent war correspondents and photographers. The idea that she had been all but forgotten haunted me, and this inspired the scenes set in contemporary times in The Paris Orphan, when D’Arcy Hallworth finds an attic full of photographs and an extraordinary legacy that should never have been lost to the past.

Made In Italy Semi Automatic Espresso Machine - $724.00

Added: 20.07.2019 16:45 | 16 views | 0 comments

This Made In Italy Semi Automatic Espresso Machine features durable boiler and extended steam wand. ...

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Italy vs EU: Why Salvini’s failure to back von der Leyen leaves Italy on collision course

Added: 19.07.2019 22:17 | 24 views | 0 comments

MATTEO Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and leader of the right-wing League Party, is on a collision course with newly confirmed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, while his MEPs’ refusal to back her has left Italy “isolated in the EU”, experts have said.


Made In Italy Leather Shoulder Bag - $449.00

Added: 19.07.2019 22:15 | 24 views | 0 comments

This Made In Italy Leather Shoulder Bag has an adjustable strap. ...

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Reported Arsenal target Izzo commits to Torino

Added: 19.07.2019 20:03 | 2 views | 0 comments

Armando Izzo has signed a new contract at Torino, ending speculation he could move to the Premier League. Arsenal were reportedly interested in the centre-back, who has also been linked with Manchester United and Everton. But Izzo, who made his first Italy appearance in a Euro 2020 qualifier in March, has instead signed a new ...]

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Italy's Salvini to see Di Maio with government's fate hanging in balance

Added: 19.07.2019 17:16 | 10 views | 0 comments

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Friday he would meet coalition partner and leader of the 5-Star Movement Luigi Di Maio amid speculation that the increasingly unwieldy government might collapse.


Italy’s warring coalition parties warn of government collapse

Added: 19.07.2019 15:17 | 14 views | 0 comments

The leaders of Italy's coalition partners the League and 5-Star Movement warned on Thursday the government could collapse following mutual recriminations over the election of the next European Commission president. Italy coalition government, Italy government, European Commission president Advertising While the League voted against the mainstream German candidate Ursula von der Leyen for the powerful EU post, the 5-Star backed her this week in the European Parliament, with its support proving decisive in guaranteeing her promotion. Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who heads 5-Star, said the League position risked isolating Italy, while League leader Matteo Salvini accused his...

Instagram is now hiding photo like counts in 7 countries

Added: 19.07.2019 14:18 | 8 views | 0 comments

It's just a test in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand -- for now.

Italy's Salvini to see Di Maio as fate of government hangs in balance

Added: 19.07.2019 12:16 | 10 views | 0 comments

Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Friday he would see coalition partner and leader of the 5-Star Movement Luigi Di Maio amid speculation that the government might collapse.


[Ticker] Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules

Added: 19.07.2019 7:53 | 3 views | 0 comments

Sea-Watch rescue ship's German captain, Carola Rackete, said Thursday she hoped the new EU commission would work to let boat-rescued migrants enter Europe. Rackete is under investigation in Italy for docking her boat containing migrants at risk of drowning. "I sincerely hope that the European Commission now, after the new election of the parliament, will do its very best to prevent situations like that happening [again]," she said.

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