A. Huxley in Sanary 3.2

The secondary witnesses: Mrs Sybille Bedford

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While researching, I was surprised to find that the official biographer Mrs Sybille Bedford was still of this world and that she had given interviews in London in the recent past, at the venerable age of 95! I tried at once to find her address on the net, but without success. I was wondering how I could reach the third main witness before it was too late... I knew she lived in London Chelsea, so I had the idea to send an email to Sandoe Books, a local bookstore selling Mrs. Bedford's work on the Internet and I diplomatically asked them if they could help me find Mrs. Bedford's contact.

A few hours later I received the following message:
From: "Johnny de Falbe"
Dear Mr Iltis
Miracles do happen!
I have just been speaking to Mrs Bedford on the telephone and I mentioned your e-mail to us. She said that she would be delighted to hear from anyone in Sanary and the best thing would be to telephone her. Her telephone number is +20. She gave me to understand that midday is a good time to call, and also said that she sometimes takes a long time to answer because, being very old, it takes her a long time to get to the telephone.
Best wishes

Johnny de Falbe
John Sandoe (Books) Ltd

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As I had noticed already, the name of Sanary seemed to be a Sesame in the Huxley's circle. The day after I called Mrs. Sybille Bedford, we engaged in a passionate conversation lasting more than thirty minutes, in English at first, but rapidly switching to French, which she still spoke fluently. Mrs. Sybille Bedford, born Von Schoenebeck in 1911 in Germany spent most of her life in the close circle of Aldous and Maria Huxley's friends. She lived in Italy, France and America at the same period as they and this early intimate relationship played a large role in developing her taste for literature and improved her writing skills. She managed to build a career on her own, becoming a writer and a critic, she is known for her biography of Huxley and for a certain number of autobiographical books detailing the life of the expatriates in Sanary before the war. When I called she was days away from having the last opus of her souvenirs, Quicksand published, quite astonishing!

The conversation with Sybille Bedford was touching, for we conversed on the Sanary of today, which bears numerous resemblances to that of the thirties. But when it came to the Huxleys she did not really show a willingness to speak about them. She told me that everything she has said on that account was to be found in her books, particularly the new one to be out soon. Mrs. Bedford was getting weary with the conversation and as I respected her advanced age, nevertheless she expressed her support for my initiative, and I wished her well.

A few weeks later I called her again after having sent pictures on which I needed advice, but she wasn't feeling so good so I did not insist. Before we said goodbye she had the time to give me a contact in the person of Noële Neveux, a niece for whom Aldous and Maria had a particular affection. She then confirmed that most of her personal material was now filed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, fortunately accessible on the net. Perhaps I will have the chance in the future to interview her in London if she is not yet reunited with her dear friends Aldous and Maria.

The clock is ticking but the moment was still not yet ripe for me. I had done my best so I decided to move on.

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