Jennie Churchill was the wife of the most celebrated political enfant terrible of his day, Lord Randolph Churchill, and the mother of Winston, the most famous Englishman of all. Little wonder that, squashed between these two alpha males, Lady Randolph Churchill has usually been seen as a walk-on part. Raven-haired and fiery-eyed, ‘Black Jane’ is alleged to have slept with 200 men. She is chiefly remembered for being a bad mother to the infant Winston, leaving him to the tender mercies of Nannie Everest. Anne Sebba’s gripping new biography is a sharp and intelligent reassessment of Jennie’s life, and it nails a number of myths.
Jennie was one of the three daughters of Leonard Jerome, an extrovert New York financier, whose roller-coaster fortunes so upset his bourgeois wife Clara that she left her husband in New York and fled with her daughters to Paris. Brought up on the fringes of the disreputable court of Napoleon