The few photographs in the short story – link on the right – were given to me by Audrey’s mother in the fifties when I met her at the house of my grandfather’s sister, Aunt Nini van Limburg Stirum, where she stayed sometimes. I had glued them in my scrapbook at boarding school, proud that I was given “personal photographs.” However, on researching their origin, it appeared they were all copyrighted.
Aunt Nini bequeathed to me the photo that is on the cover. Audrey’s mother, Aunt Ella van Heemstra, had told her she should leave it to me. It was an old frame that stood later in our house on my grand piano. To verify if it had a copyright, a professional framer friend carefully opened the fragile back and then we noticed that Audrey’s photo was collated to a photograph of another unknown beautiful woman taken by a high-end studio in Rome! Did they feel at that time that Audrey’s photo was not important enough to buy a new frame for it? Audrey was not “famous“ yet at that time, and that’s probably the reason why this photograph is not as widespread as some of the others.
On the back of the photo figured a stamp stating that photographer Noel Mayne of Baron Studios in London was the copyrighted photographer, but he died in 2011 and we could not find an estate handling his copyrights posthumously.
Noel Mayne had taken the picture when Audrey was modeling and doing cabaret shows in London around 1950, and that was before she was discovered to play Gigi on Broadway.
We found that the photograph of Audrey and Mel Ferrer and their son Sean appeared on the audreyhepburn.com website.
They apparently used it as a Christmas card to close friends in 1962. We copyrighted it to Sean Hepburn Ferrer, as we could not find the original copyright holding photographer. In the process, I became aware that Audrey must have been the most photographed film star ever. Just look at the Wikipedia and Google sites. Even her sons reportedly said that they did not realize how famous their mother was, despite all the paparazzi.
The short stories are published by Willow Manor Publishing of Virginia (www.willowmanorpublishing.com) which also handles cover design. They will be offered to readers in the USA through Amazon Kindle, which sells for the regular low introductory Kindle price of $0.99 cents. On Amazon.ca (Canada), the price may vary around CDN$1. Readers in the Netherlands may want to go to amazon.nl, which leads to amazon.co.uk., which, in turn, is the source for readers in England as well. (I understand that Amazon will open a Netherlands bookstore this fall.) Readers in other parts of the world will have their own directives how to reach amazon.com and get access to the stories.
I would have liked to offer the Audrey short story for free but the Amazon Kindle system does not allow that. Whatever proceeds I will receive from the story will be donated to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, http://www.audreyhepburn.com. This site also includes many charming photographs of Audrey throughout her life. She never boasted, had no scandals, was always gracious and seemingly self-conscious about her fame as an actress. Audrey says herself that she seemed to have been floating on heavenly air, unaware what was happening to her. She was a natural, who at the end of her life gave herself completely to the poor hungry children of the world, as the unforgettable Ambassadrice of UNICEF.
I admire the work the Children’s Fund and UNICEF do. In my career at the World Bank, I have seen many destitute children as well, but was unable to do much about it as one person. I was able to lift two young women from their doomed poverty cycle in Africa, but even though two lives saved is better than none, it is a drop on a hot plate.
Readers may, therefore, also want to donate to this Fund directly by going to the website. It is managed by Audrey’s sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti. Sean was given a preview of the short story and he was agreeable to us publishing it. I hope you like it, too.
I got to know Audrey when I was seven and she a young girl seven years older than me, and while she had that lovely smile and endearing face, how could I expect at that age what she would become?
I have been fascinated – as so many others – by her star, and it is because she gave me that goodbye kiss at seven that I stayed glued to her till she died. A remarkable woman, or as her son Sean titled her for his wonderful book: “Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit.” You can get it on Amazon, too. It is published by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster, Inc) and warmly written, as you can understand from a son of a wonderful mother, including most interesting and moving views from those who were close to her. It also contains marvelous photographs not found on the “internet”.
When I saw the book’s advert, I felt I wanted this more than any of the many biographies written about her because of its personal nature. An elegant spirit, that’s what she was.