Shelved Dolls: Lady Clare Rendlesham – A Vogue Editor More Devilish Than Anna Wintour

clare rendlesham helen mccrory

This isn't Lady Clare Rendlesham! It is Helen McCrory playing her in a movie. There are very few pictures of the actual Clare.

I have an odd affection for angry women.

I mean, I have been hearing that women are quite angry a lot lately, and I always roll my eyes at this pronouncement. Women are not “angry” because you told them to pick up their socks and put them in the clothes hamper. Women may be irritated and annoyed, but that is very different from possessing a deep and fascinating wellspring of anger.

But telling women they are angry, or scary, or intimidating is very effective, because for most of history, females have been trained that they are not supposed to inspire these emotions.

If you tell most ladies that people (Fox News) report they are “angry”,  they will make jokes, or write long screeds explaining that they either are – or are not  – angry. None of these responses are really the reactions of an angry person.

If you told Clare Rendlesham, the Fashion Editor of British Vogue in the late 1950s that she was angry, she would have thrown a typewriter at your head.

That’s what angry is.

People seem to forget that a great many interesting humans throughout history tended to be, well, angry. And sort of easily unhinged. And terribly highly strung. Someone once told me that the better a racehorse performs, the more tics it is prone to, and I think of that from time to time, in relation to people.

I think this tendency is true of many men as well as women.

But I think anger is particularly interesting in relation to women, especially females in prior eras who were told in no uncertain terms that their survival and well-being demanded that they be gentle and calm and accommodating. I have no doubt that growing up in England in the 1940s Clare heard those messages, and then decided she was just going to throw them out the window in a fury.

I am basing this supposition, of course, largely on the famous story about Clare being fired from Queen magazine.

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    • Anon

      Shelved Dolls, to be honest, is my favorite series on the gloss. I look forward to it all the time and get so excited when a new one is posted! Jennifer, you should collect them all and publish an anthology or something! I would buy it SO FAST.

      • MR

        Yes, these have all been very well done.

    • MyDearGirl

      Helen McCrory played Lady Clare in We’ll Take Manhattan! David Bailey gave her a hell of a time, and made her like Jean Shrimpton.

    • Deborah

      Totally read that you wanted to be splashed in “Peasant blood at a party” and thought I was back on the Bathory story…