Alice and Edith Annesley Taylor were life-long friends. They met in Paris after World War I, and over the years, their lives intersected again and again. It seems that Edith was a lost soul and that Alice, as was her tendency, took Edith under her care and supported her. Like Alice, Edith had little family of her own, and Alice probably recognized this and was drawn to Edith. Both had been abandoned by their mothers at a young age.
Today, Edith Taylor’s daughter, Eve Chevalier, shown below at her wedding in 1952 to ELLE magazine photographer Jean Chevalier, lives next to Stone Brook in Weston, CT. Eve’s daughter, Alice Chevalier, was named for Alice De Lamar.
Edith Annesley Taylor is in many ways a mystery, even to her son, Paul Beekman Taylor, a Chaucer scholar who wrote a book about the Russian-born mystic, Gurdjieff, in which he discloses that his sister, Eve Chevalier, is the daughter of Edith Taylor and the mystic.
Paul Taylor writes that he knew little about his mother’s life, and when he learned some facts later, he was saddened because she hadn’t shared any of it with her children.
Edith Taylor was born in Providence, RI in 1896 to Mary Ann Fitzgerald Taylor and an unknown father. Edith’s mother was a playgirl who followed the rich horse-racing crowd and lived in Saratoga Springs, NY. Soon after Edith’s birth, her mother gave her to a Catholic orphanage, where she stayed for several years. At age 15, Edith ran away to Baltimore and danced in a musical review. She went to England in 1914 with the group, where she fell in love with a wealthy boy from Philadelphia, Johnnie MacFadden. The two joined an ambulance company in France when World War I broke out.
Johnnie later dumped Edith in favor of a girl from his own social class, and she was devastated. With money Johnnie gave her as consolation, Edith stayed in France, where she soon met the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his friends Gerald and Sara Murphy. She became part of a circle that included Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp.
In the words of her son Paul Beekman Taylor, his mother “spent her lifetime… in search of affection and security.” He is uncertain about how she became involved with Gurdjieff and bore his daughter, but it was clearly a bad situation, where the mystic refused to help her or his child (one of many born out of wedlock) in any way.
Alexandra Fatio Taylor, daughter of Swiss-born architect Maurice Fatio, who designed many mansions in Palm Beach, was married to Paul Beekman Taylor. Paul Beekman Taylor now lives in Geneva, as does Alex Fatio Taylor.
When Alex Fatio Taylor got divorced from Paul Beekman Taylor, she and her four children went to live with Alice De Lamar in Weston. Here’s what Alex had to say in the Palm Beach Social Diary:
“Alice’s best friend was my mother-in-law (Edith Taylor), so when I divorced my husband, of course Alice insisted that my four children and I move in with her in Weston … what a world. She had her own nature preserve on hundreds of acres. She knew my parents, and really, she knew everyone.”
Alice (third from right) and Lucia Davidova (second from right)
“Alice was never, never photographed, so this is a fairly rare glimpse. I’m surprised Hemingway isn’t in the picture, Alice knew him well. There was always an entourage, she never wanted to meet anyone she didn’t know. If there was a Stravinsky premiere in Venice, she would gather together some friends and go to Venice. But, never alone, always a group around her.”