American socialite Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Edward VIII gave up the throne in 1936, is variously portrayed as a greedy snob, a sexual predator or part of the romance of the century. A complex figure emerges: a strong-willed woman, hungry for independence, but caught up in a situation she could not control. Mrs. Wallis Simpson has become an emotional figure in history. Along with this, many descriptions of her personality and motives for being with Edward have caused some extremely negative descriptions; the nicer ones range from witch to seductress. So who really was Mrs. Wallis Simpson?
Bessie Wallis Warfield, named after her aunt and her father, as she was born in Baltimore, Maryland, was something of a misfit from the start. Her arrival in June 19,1896 came just seven months after the marriage of her parents, causing some embarrassment to Warfield relatives for whom moral propriety was essential as the elite of Baltimore society. Bessie's father died when she was five months old and throughout her formative years, she and her mother had to rely on irregular handouts from a wealthy relative. Because her father left them with no money so they relied charity from her mother’s husband’s late brother.
As Wallis grew into a young woman, she was not necessarily considered pretty. Yet Wallis had a sense of style and poses that made her distinguished and attractive. She had radiant eyes, good complexion and fine, smooth black hair, which she kept parted down the middle for most of her life. Bessie discarded her first name - because "so many cows are called Bessie" - and learned how to flirt. But she was still shut out of the world she regarded as her birthright. Soon after the humiliation of "coming out" without the usual debutante's celebration ball, she grasped the first means of escape from Baltimore by becoming engaged.
On November 8 1916 she was married to her first husband, at the age of 20 was to a Navy pilot Earl Winfield Spencer. The marriage was reasonably good until the end of World War I when many ex-soldiers became bitter at the inconclusiveness of the war and the difficulty in adapting back to civilian life. After the Armistice, Win began to drink heavily and also became abusive. Wallis eventually left Win and lived six years by herself in Washington. Win and Wallis weren't yet divorced and when Win begged her to rejoin him, this time in China where he had been posted in 1922, she went. Things seemed to be working out until Win started drinking again. This time Wallis left him for good and sued for a divorce, which was granted in December 1927.
After three years of separation divorced, Wallis began an affair with a married man, Ernest Simpson, a British-American businessman. They wed in July 1928. They moved to London, where Wallis established herself as a hostess. Through contacts at the US Embassy she became friendly with Thelma Furness, who was married to an elderly...