One of the most beautiful and brilliant women of her time, Gladys Deacon dazzled, as much as she puzzled, the glittering social circles in which she moved. Born in Paris to American parents in 1881, she suffered a traumatic childhood after her father shot her mother’s lover dead. Educated in America, she returned to Europe, where she captivated some of the greatest literary and artistic names of the Belle ?poque. Marcel Proust wrote of her ‘I never saw a girl with such beauty, such magnificent intelligence, such goodness and charm.’ Berenson considered marrying her, Rodin and Monet befriended her, Boldini painted her and Epstein sculpted her. She inspired love from diverse Dukes and Princes, and the interest of women such as the Comtesse Greffulhe and Gertrude Stein. It wasn’t until she was 40 that she achieved the wish she had held since the age of 14 to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough.