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Christine Keeler, an achingly beautiful 17-year-old, came to work at Murray’s Club in Soho in the summer of 1959. Four years later her name was famous: a British government staggered under scandal and a notorious trial blazed her name across world headlines.
She was to be defined, and scarred, for the rest of her life by the events of those few late-adolescent years.
Catalyst - Change - Attitudes - Crumbling - Respect
Inadvertently, she was also the catalyst of a great change in British political and social attitudes, a crumbling of respect and deference.
Against that canvas, the sadness of her own life — which ended yesterday as she died of lung disease at the age of 75 — is easy to forget.
Beginnings - Berkshire - Village - Home - Made
Her beginnings had not been easy. Growing up in a Berkshire village in a home made of converted railway carriages, she was by her own account ill-treated and abused by her stepfather as a child. ‘He tried to kiss me and rubbed Vicks into my chest when I had a cold,’ she said.
She left school at 15 with no qualifications. Her striking looks found her some dress-shop modelling work, but pregnancy at 17 and a botched abortion led to a premature birth and a baby who lived only six days.
London - Christine - Fast - Murray - Club
Picking herself up after that and leaving for London, Christine rapidly fell in with a fast, excitingly louche set around Murray’s Club where she worked as a topless dancer. The clients, according to the rules, could ‘look but not touch’.
Most fatefully, at Murray’s she met and was taken up by Stephen Ward, 30 years her senior and a respected high-flying osteopath and portrait artist.
Clients - Winston - Churchill - Frank - Sinatra
His clients included Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Gandhi, Danny Kaye, and Elizabeth Taylor; his acquaintance and the club’s clientele spanned both the political and social aristocracy and the dangerous world of Notting Hill gangs, notably the brutal slum...
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