Janetta Parladé (1921-2018)

The Daily Telegraph has announced the death of Janetta Parladé. As a young woman, she was a member of the Horizon magazine social set centering on the editor Cyril Connolly. Shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Cvil War:

Janetta met Cyril Connolly, who offered her a lift in his car to the south of France, where her mother had taken a house. During the drive Connolly was arrested by a suspicious policeman for abducting a minor, and a call had to be made to the British consul in Bordeaux before he was allowed to continue his journey. Wearing corduroy trousers and a French soldier’s cape, and carrying her belongings in a red-spotted handkerchief, the gamine Janetta must have looked even younger than her 17 years.

A few years later, in The Unquiet Grave, Connolly fantasised that he had been in love with Janetta’s “sad, grave, gem-like beauty … which I grasped and was not brave enough to hold”. He told his wife that she suited his “second adolescence”. George Weidenfeld described Janetta in his memoirs as “a wayward beauty who had been the Egeria to many remarkable men, some of whom she wed”.

[… ]she worked at Horizon, the literary magazine founded by Connolly and Stephen Spender. There she acquired the nickname of Miss Bluefeet because of her habit of walking barefooted around the office. Sonia Brownell was editorial secretary at Horizon; when she and Orwell were married in University College Hospital in 1949, three months before he died, Janetta and David Astor were the witnesses. […] (Evelyn Waugh described Janetta as “a dead-end kid [with] a baby by a communist doctor”.)

The “communist doctor” is probably Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, who, according to the Telegraph, “led the first British medical unit to Spain in 1936.” They never married but she took his name and they lived together as a family. Janetta is the barefoot young woman whom Waugh describes in his letters as answering the door at Connolly’s flat when Waugh made a visit. See previous post. She was married four times. Among her husbands were literary figures of the 1940s Humphrey Slater (editor-founder of the short-lived literary magazine Polemic and sometime lover of Waugh’s friend Inez Holden), the also much-married Derek Jackson, and writer Robert Kee.

UPDATE (23 June 2018): According to the obituary in The Times, Janetta did not marry Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit as her second husband but took his name and had his child under that name:

…she left Slater for Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, a young left-wing doctor who had led the first British medical unit to Spain in 1936. They met at a party for Spanish Civil War veterans and he instantly left his wife for her. They did not marry but she changed her name to Sinclair-Loutit and he became the father of her first daughter, Nicolette. Nicky Loutit, as she is now known, is a painter and writer. The Sinclair-Loutits shared a house in Regents Park with Connolly, who occupied the middle floor, but by 1945 they were separated, as Evelyn Waugh reported in a letter to Lady Diana Cooper, referring to Mrs Loutit as “Mrs Bluefeet” (after she had opened the door to him in bare feet).

The text of the original post has been corrected to reflect this.

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