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When Lovell interviewed Markham she asked her if she had been a lover of Bror Blixen, the husband of Karen Blixen, who wrote Out of Africa. ’ before adding matter-of-factly, ’Of course, I made love with him Sometimes when we were out there [in the bush] there was nothing else to do but make love.’ None of Markham’s husbands shared her mindset and all divorced her for infidelity. There was Tom, the son of Lord Delamere, who lost his virginity to Markham in a stable; there was the big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton; and there was Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, third in line to the throne.
(Markham described the latter as a ’mad little gallop’, though Queen Mary viewed it less frivolously.) Markham first met the prince in 1928 when he and his brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, came to Kenya on a safari.
By the end of the year she had her commercial pilot’s licence and for the next three years earned a good living taking hunters on safari, ferrying doctors to ill settlers and delivering mail to remote mines.
Her flight was described as 'epochal’, and Columbia Pictures presented her with a contract to appear in a film ’portraying her great achievement’.
Amelia Earhart, who had become the first woman to conquer the Atlantic solo, flying from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1932, professed herself ’delighted beyond words that Mrs Markham should have succeeded in her exploit’.
Mother and daughter established a civil relationship, but Beryl bore the emotional scars of the abandonment for the rest of her life. In her excellent biography, Straight on Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham (Abacus, £10.99), Mary S Lovell records how one of Markham’s contemporaries described her as ’a magnificent creature very feline.
It was like watching a beautiful golden lioness when she walked across the room.’ Markham married three times - each union a disaster - and in between (and during) embarked upon dozens of love affairs, some passionate, some just to pass the time of day.
Eventually, the queen found out about the affair and demanded it end.