Trefusis, Violet

BORN 6 Jun 1894, London: 2 Wilton Crescent - DIED 9 Mar 1972, Firenze, Toscana: Villa dell'Ombrellino, Bellosguardo
BIRTH NAME Keppel, Violet
CAUSE OF DEATH malabsorption disease
GRAVE LOCATION Firenze, Toscana: Cimitero Evangelico Agli Allori, Via Senese 184, Galluzo (ashes partly buried in or scattered over her mother's grave and partly scattered at St. Loup-de-Naud)

Daughter of Alice Keppel, the mistress of king Edward VII. It is uncertain if Keppel was her father, it could have been the banker Willim Beckett or even Edward VII. Violet was a lesbian and she married Denys Trefusis under the condition that he would never attempt to sleep with him. Her long and scandalous affair with Vita Sackville-West gave her mother, who had always been completely discrete about her own affair, a hard time when she was looking for a suitable husband for Violet's younger sister Sonia.

In 1929 the unhappy Trefusis died of tuberculosis and Violet started an affair with the Princesse de Polignac. She left England and lived in a tower in Saint-Loup-de-Naud, Seine-et-Marne. It was a gift from the Princesse. There she wrote several novels, both in English and French.

During the Second World War she was forced to return to England, where she participated in broadcasts of La France Libre. For these services she received the Légion d'Honneur after the war.

In 1947 her mother died and she inherited the magnificent Villa dell'Ombrellino, where Galilei had once lived. There she spent the rest of her years until she died in 1972. In 1971 she was visited at home by her friend François Mitterand.

• Mother: Keppel, Alice


The grave of Violet Trefusis at the Cimitero Evangelico Agli Allori, Florence. Part of her ashes were buried here and part were scattered at the Florentine garden in St. Loup-de-Naud, where she had a house.
Picture by androom (04 Feb 2011)


The gravesite of Alice Keppel and Violet Trefusis at the Cimitero Evangelico Agli Allori, Florence.
Picture by androom (04 Feb 2011)


• Nicolson, Nigel, Portrait of a Marriage, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1989
• Souhami, Diana, Mrs. Keppel and her Daughter, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1997

Tregonwell, Lewis Grosvenor Dymoke

Published: 17 Apr 2011
Last update: 08 Mar 2022