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Inside the Churchill Clan

Like his mother, Jennie Jerome, and his cousin-by-marriage Consuelo Vanderbilt, Winston Churchill’s Aunt Lily Hammersley was an American heiress whose fortune, it was hoped, would assist in bailing out the Churchill clan’s ever shaky finances. Hurriedly wed and brought to England as the newest Duchess of Marlborough, Lily arrived at Blenheim, the family’s vast, dilapidated country seat. “The first thing that confronted her,” Mary S. Lovell writes in “The Churchills,” was a life-size nude of Lady Colin Campbell, her husband’s former mistress and divorce co-respondent, painted by Whistler, “which hung in the duke’s dressing room.” The canvas soon thereafter disappeared from art history. It is widely assumed that Lily had it burned.

By WALTER OLSON Published: June 24, 2011

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