Semi-annual report

Six months of Strange Flowers!

Hard to believe, but yes I have been banging on about biographical marginalia for half a year now. And I’m always amazed to see which posts get the most hits. Who would have thought that Gala Dalí, for instance, would prove such an enduring object of fascination? For the record, the top 10 posts since the blog’s inception are:

1: “To know her was to loathe her” – Gala Dalí v Pope Pius XII

2: Magic acts – writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten

3: Dress-down Friday: Moondog – our favourite pagan poet

4: Sissi & Romy – the empress and the movie star

5: Ravaged angel – the restless wanderings of Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach

6: Review: Beautiful Darling – the documentary about Warhol superstar Candy Darling

7: ¡La Lupe! – the Cuban singer and camp icon

8: Swiss Family Rougemont – the restless (and largely fabricated) wanderings of Louis de Rougemont

9: Dress-down Friday: Isabelle Eberhardtanother Helvetian traveller (seriously, who knew there was a Swiss diaspora?)

10: Gladys & Groucho – Gladys Bentley sings for Groucho Marx

It’s probably time I did some housekeeping: fixing broken links, starting a blogroll, freshening up the layout. Yes, I’ll get right on to that. Really. Soon. Probably.

But in the meantime – thank you, as ever, for stopping by.


  1. Chris

    Hi James– This is Chris in the West Village, New York City. Congratulations on your half birthday– your site has come to be for me a wake up call– I check every morning to see if you have added another article– they are always interesting– so well written, researched, funny and inspiring- I am an artist, and reading your entries, learning about your subjects, makes me want to get out of bed, get to the studio, and have an extraordinary day. I don’t know if you like suggestions…but if you do, I am reading AS Byatt’s novel The Children’s Book– it is full of great historical characters that would fit right into your gathering. And check out Henry Mercer, builder of Fonthill in Pennsylvania USA, and the Facteur Cheval, builder of the Palais ideal, France. But perhaps you have all this on a list. Thanks again, I spread the word here in NYC. Best, Chris

    • Hi Chris – thanks so much for the comments, much appreciated. And yes I’m always open to suggestions for an already crowded list of Strange Flowers. Sometimes I think I should cull some of them but I’m such a sucker for a weird dead person.

      Have an extraordinary day!

  2. Erwan

    Hi James. This half year birthday is a good opportunity for me to thank you for having told your readers about so many amazing and inspiring lives. I really appreciate the way you choose peole you talk about ; different countries, social backgrounds, times, you take individuals from all horizons and still, they all deserve to be called “Strange Flowers”. Not only it has proven me that there is no restriction as to the possibility to live an extraordinary life, but it even has given me many examples to create mine. Will my life be extraordinary, I will see that in time, but what matters is that your blog offers a refreshing, stimulating look at great and unconventional characters ! And as a Frenchmen (you might have figured it out from my English), I draw your attention to the Jardin family. You might want to have a look at Le Roman des Jardin, which is a (fictional ?) account given by novelist Alexandre Jardin of his bizarre relatives. But I’m sure your list of entries to come already contains many fascinating surprises. Keep up the good work !

    • Hi Erwan – thank you for the comments, it’s great to get some positive feedback. I was looking back through the blog recently and realised how many of these Strange Flowers are French. Why do you think that is? I’m reading a book at the moment about the incredible Mathilde de Morny, the cross-dressing marquise who was Colette’s lover. I’ll definitely be posting about her soon. Thanks again!

  3. Jeff

    Yours is a truly interesting blog. I always enjoy and find I’m retelling many of these character’s stories to friends. Thank you for your efforts….J.

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