Diana Souhami’s critically acclaimed biography of lesbian painter Hannah Gluckstein—the woman, the artist, the legend
To her family, Hannah Gluckstein was known as Hig. To Edith Shackleton Heald, the journalist with whom she lived for almost forty years, she was Dearest Grub. And to the art world, she was simply Gluck.
She was born in 1895 into a life of privilege. Her family had founded J. Lyons & Co., a vast catering empire. From the beginning Gluck was a rebel. At a time when only men wore trousers, she scandalized society with her masculine clothing—though she always dressed with style and turned androgyny into high fashion. Her affairs with high-profile women shocked her conservative family, even while she achieved fame as an artist.
During the 1920s and thirties, Gluck’s paintings—portraits, flowers, and landscapes, presented in frames designed and patented by her—were the toast of the town. At the height of her success, when wounded in love, her own obsessions caused her to fade for decades from the public eye, but then, at nearly eighty, her return to the spotlight ensured her immortality.