|Wilhelm and son Lennart.|
Wilhelm was married off to a cousin of the Russian Tsar, a Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Or she was married off to him, rather, as she was the one who had to come here. They had one son, Lennart, and then the marriage became so miserable that they were granted a divorce.
He didn´t make it - if he had, I would have known about him. But in his time, he was a hardworking writer and filmmaker. He produced and participated in several hundred documentary films, then - before television - a regular feature at the cinemas. He wrote very popular reportages from his extensive travels and made several lecture tours in the United States, where apparently people happily paid to shake his hand. Unfortunately, he was inclined to be conservative and romantic, and his work is severely dated.
|The cover is a portrait by Carl Larsson.|
Jeanne was a true Parisian lady, very beautiful (she was in a few Swedish silent era films), had a fashion boutique for a while, and probably had at least one other wealthy lover. I couldn´t find a single picture of her online, but there is a book from 1971 with Wilhelm´s letters to her. I borrowed it and tried to read it, but unfortunately they are terribly boring. I did get some snaps from there, though, and she really was very beautiful.
|Lennart, Jeanne, and Wilhelm at Stenhammar.|
She lived quietly with Wilhelm and became one of the family - even Queen Viktoria decided that she wanted to meet her finally in 1930, but the Queen died before Jeanne had time to make the visit. In 1952 Jeanne died in a car accident, 76 years old.
I guess I wanted Jeanne to be more interesting and intellectual. Or perhaps she was, maybe it was just Wilhelm´s letters to her that were dull. I don´t know if her letters have been saved, they have not been published anyway. She seems to have been the archetypal wife - even though she never got to marry her prince. Einar Nerman has said that she was a wonderful mother-in-law, quite the opposite of the stereotype.
As for Wilhelm and his ambitions, I don´t think he wanted to rebel. Seems like he was genuinely fond of his mother. He called his parents "morsan" and "farsan" in his letters to Jeanne, which is a very working class way of adressing a "mum" and a "pop". Perhaps Wilhelm and Jeanne are forgotten because they were just too ordinary. Just regular good folk.
I had to add Einar Nerman´s portrait of his mum-in-law. It reminds me slightly of his Garbo portrait, and Jeanne´s beauty is no lesser than the Divine´s - even though Jeanne must have been around fifty when it was made.
Wilhelm was heart-broken after her death and he wrote this poem for her:
Bär min älskade i paradiset
vingar efter sista modet?
Går hon klädd i den svarta
som gjorde midjan smal och höften bred.
Sitter vårhatten käckt på sned,
hänger floret på nästippen,
kan hon spegla sig i naglarnas lack
där hon trippar bland liljor på sin svängda klack.
Det skulle vara likt henne. Det enda jag vet
är att hon sveper kring arbetslampan
slöjor av goda tankar från sin obefintlighet.
Does my love wear in Paradise(my own translation)
wings after the latest fashion?
Is she dressed in the black one
that makes the waist thin and the hip wide.
Is the spring hat pertly angled,
is the veil resting on the tip of her nose,
can she see her reflection in the polish of her nails
where she trips among lilies on her curved heel.
It would be just like her. All I know
is that she wraps around the desk lamp
veils of good thoughts from her non-existence.