Audrey Hepburn’s Private Letters To Mentor Felix Aylmer Detail Rocky Decade In Icon’s Life
Audrey Hepburn penned a series of letters to her close friend and mentor more than 50 years ago, revealing the private heartache she was experiencing as she was rising to fame in Hollywood while dealing with a rocky personal life. Ten handwritten letters penned by Hepburn to her longtime confidant Sir Felix Aylmer are going up for auction later this month, according to BBC News.
Audrey Hepburn’s letters to Aylmer were written between 1951 and 1960, documenting a dramatic decade in the Hollywood icon’s life. Hepburn, who died in 1993 at age 63, writes about her broken-off engagement to James Hanson, her marriage to Mel Ferrer, two miscarriages, and the birth of her first child.
In a 1952 letter, a devastated Audrey wrote that “with a heavy heart” she had broken off her engagement to socialite James Hanson, who was a notorious playboy.
“It is all very unhappy-making,” Hepburn wrote to Aylmer. “I fear I thought it possible to make our combined lives and careers work out.”
— Audrey Hepburn (@rareaudrey) February 26, 2015
After she found a more lasting love with Mel Ferrer two years later, Hepburn wrote about her plans for a private ceremony with her Broadway co-star.
“We want to keep [the wedding] a dark secret in order to have it without the ‘press’,” Audrey wrote, before telling Aylmer that the wedding would be held “in a tiny chapel with a wedding breakfast after.”
— Yves FRANCOIS (@CrucisAmoris) May 23, 2016
But there was more heartbreak when Hepburn lost two pregnancies to miscarriage, which she also writes about in her letters to Aylmer. Happier letters include Hepburn’s 1951 reference to filming the movie Monte Carlo Baby, which she describes as “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
And after the birth of her first child, Sean, in 1960, Audrey Hepburn shared her happy news with Aylmer.
“Sean is truly a dream. I find it hard to believe he is really ours to keep. I long to show him to you. We all three send our love and kisses, Audrey,” she wrote.
Audrey Hepburn and her first husband divorced in 1968, and she went on to marry Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti the following year. Audrey gave birth to her second son, Luca, in 1970.
Audrey Hepburn's wedding with Italian doctor Andrea Dotti, 1969. pic.twitter.com/XnIejNItNO
— Ivana (@IArtioli) May 28, 2016
The Audrey Hepburn letters will go up for auction at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia sale in London on June 29, and they are expected to fetch as much as $5,000.
This is not the first time Audrey Hepburn’s personal letters have been made available to the public. In 2003, the New York Times reported that a collection of letters Hepburn wrote to her father, Joseph Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, and his third wife, Fidelma Hepburn-Ruston, were on the block, painting an interesting picture of her life from the 1950s to the 1980s.
While Hepburn was separated from her father as a child due to her parents’ divorce and her father’s prison stint for pro-Fascist activities during World War II, she later reconnected with him at age 30 and continued to write letters to him for the next two decades, signing them with either Audrey or M.P., an abbreviation for Monkey Puzzle, which was her father’s nickname for her.
Audrey Hepburn with her father, Joseph Ruston in Lineebeek, Belgium in 1933 & 1934: pic.twitter.com/Sb88aDnhju
— Arthur_S (@allanholloway) June 27, 2015
In a July 1980 letter, Audrey wrote that she had been trying to schedule a visit with her father but that her mother was recovering from a stroke. Audrey also hinted that her marriage to Dotti was not going well.
“Added to all this my marriage is in bad shape so am suffering on all sides,” Hepburn wrote to her stepmother. “God willing I can perhaps come for the day when I bring Luca back from the sea. I am very torn about all this, but I can only do the best I can.”
In addition to the previously unseen letters about to go on the block, Page Six reports that Audrey Hepburn memorabilia will be up for auction this month, including a 1967 photograph of the actress by Terry O’Neill and a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster, which is expected to go for up to $7,000.
But the estimates for the letters could be low. According to the Times, in 2000, Christie’s in London sold a batch of 15 Audrey Hepburn letters, postcards, and photographs for $13,000. And in 1998 the auction house sold 12 Hepburn letters, consigned by Hepburn’s stepmother, for $72,000, against a high estimate of $8,000.
Take a look at the video below to see a rare interview with Audrey Hepburn.
[Photo by Keystone/Getty Images]