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Elinor Glyn

6 of 8 portraits of Elinor Glyn

© estate of Paul Tanqueray

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Elinor Glyn

by Paul Tanqueray
vintage bromide print, 1931
9 1/4 in. x 7 1/2 in. (234 mm x 192 mm)
Given by Paul Tanqueray, 1975
Photographs Collection
NPG x16448

Sitterback to top

  • Elinor Glyn (1864-1943), Novelist. Sitter in 8 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991), Photographer. Artist associated with 186 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Gibson, Robin, The Face in the Corner: Animal Portraits from the Collections of the National Portrait Gallery, 1998, p. 77
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 113 Read entry

    The famous, one might say notorious, novelist is better remembered for her invention of the ‘It’ factor and for the possibility of sinning with her on a tiger skin than for her novels. Though it portrays her past her first flush of youth, Paul Tanqueray’s memorable image conveys something of her intense and passionate nature, which is helpfully underlined by the two cats. In fact, by the time of her demise, she had five tiger skins, three of them named after lovers, though the cats were not acquired until she finally settled back in England in 1929 after seven years in America as a Hollywood scriptwriter for silent films. Even so, at the age of sixty-five she formed her own film-production company in London, though she was obliged to abandon it the following year after the first film received devastating reviews and the second remained unreleased.

    The cats were named Candide and Zadig as a tribute to Voltaire, whom Elinor had apparently cherished after finding a copy of his Zadig as a little girl in her hated step-father’s library in Jersey. Her grandson and biographer, Anthony Glyn, remembered them both (despite the visual evidence) as marmalade-coloured, ‘beautiful proud independent creatures of enormous character and “it”, in many ways very like their mistress ... they became as much a feature of her life as her tigers’. Indeed, in 1939, Elinor caused a sensation by speaking at a literary lunch at the Dorchester while wearing Candide round her neck as a stole. The cat apparently behaved impeccably.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1931back to top

Current affairs

Sailors at the Invergordon naval base mutiny in response to pay cuts. The cuts of up to 25% were part of the government's attempt to deal with the Great Depression by reducing public spending. Sailors protested by holding meetings and refusing orders.
Dr Harold Moody founds the League of Coloured Peoples, lobbying for equal rights for black people in Britain and for international civil rights.

Art and science

The modern tube map is introduced. Harry Beck's design was unique in following the properties of a circuit diagram rather than the geographical location of the stations.
The Vic-Wells Ballet company is founded by Dame Ninette de Valois and housed by Lilian Baylis at Sadler's Wells Theatre. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1957 and became the Royal Ballet.


The Second Spanish Republic is established. Following an election dominated by the Republicans, King Alfonso XIII abdicated and a new constitution was drawn up.
The Statute of Westminster grants legislative equality to the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire. The Statue decreed that the British Government could no longer make ordinary law for the dominions unless it was at their request and with their consent.

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