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<-- Back to Bessie Wallis Warfield

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan), Oct 15, 1936 "Mrs Simpson Made Debut During Early Days of War" : "Most Talked of Woman in World Traces Lineage to Norman Knight"
"Mrs Ernest Simpson ..... her friendship with King Edward VIII has made her "The Most Talked-of Woman in the World."
So Laura Lou Brookman, novelist and staff correspondent of NEA Service, went to Baltimore to find out who Mrs Simpson is, what her girlhood and background were like. She tells the story of the debhood of "the Yankee at King Edward's Court" in this second of four articles."

A pale boyish-looking English officer, newly arrived in the north of France war zone, signed a letter to his mother, sealed it and handed it to an orderly who saluted smartly, recognizing H.R.M., the Prince of Wales ...

Three thousand miles away newspaper headlines screamed, "GERMAN CRUISER FLEET DESTROYED — THREE SHIPS SUNK — ADMIRAL AND 2000 MEN LOST"'

President Wilson consulted with Ambassador Herrick, home from France ... Assistant Secretary F. D. Roosevelt appeared before a congressional committee to testify on the strength of the navy ... Women suffragists paraded in Chicago ... The supreme court was considering the case of Harry Thaw ... Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle were dancing at the Amsterdam theater in New York ... Thirty-five carloads of food were stowed on ships to be transported from the United States to homeless Belgians ...


First Real Party

And in Baltimore, Md, a slender, dark-haired, 18-year-old girl smiled and bowed prettily, attending her first real party.

It was war-riddled December, 1914, when Wallis Warfield — today Mrs. Ernest Simpson of London — made her debut at the Bachelor's Cotillon, famous in Baltimore traditions. Today Mrs. Simpson's shopping trips, the parties she gives and those to which she goes are of world-wide interest. Mrs. Simpson's name, appearing in the British Court Circular, exclusive journal of the most exclusive society in the world, starts ripples of excitement reaching from London to Shanghai and Sidney.

How different from that night, Dec. 7, 1914 !

Baltimore's Lyric theater, banked with palsm and potted plants, had become, according to a newspaper report, "a bower of beauty where light and color mingled to form almost a tropical atmosphere of warmth and fullness of life." Forty-nine debutantes were there to make their bows. Forty-nine young girls, each wearing a new dress and carrying flowers, tried to look serene and calm, aware the event was the most important, to date, of their brief lives.

Some Sniff at Pledge

The bank struck up a popular new number, "I want to Be Back in Michigan." Miss Wallis Warfield, resplendant in white satin, chiffon and pearl embroidery, was whirled into the dance on the arm of her uncle, Major General George Barnett of the U.S. Marine Corps.

It might have been a night to stir girlish hearts — particularly the heart of Wallis Warfield.

She hadn't had the long list of entertainments in her honor that most of the other debutantes had had. She had gone to some of the affairs — not nearly as many as some of the other girls.

When Wallis Warfield, along with 33 other debutantes, signed an agreement to "refrain from extravagance in entertaining," due to the war conditions abroad, there had been those to sniff knowingly and hint that Wallis had more than one reason for signing such a pledge. After all, her mother had kept that boarding house on Biddle Street!

Mrs. Warfield, by this time Mrs. John Freeman Rasin, Jr., was no longer taking "paying guests" in her home. She had, in 1908, married John Freeman Rasin, Jr., who died two years later.

Given Many Advantages

Widowed a second time, Mrs. Rasin continued her efforts to give her daughter the advantages which surely were due a girl who could trace her ancestry back to Noble Knight Pagan de Warfield, numbered in the forces of William the Conqueror when he crossed the Channel in 1066 — to say nothing of being a cousin of the late Edward Warfield, the governor of Maryland, and, on her mother's side of the family, related to Governor Montague of Virginia.

It was Wallis' wealthy uncle, the late S. Davies Warfield, president of the Seaboard Airline Railroad, who made it possible for her to attend Arundel school. The school, no longer in existence, overlooked aristocratic Mount Vernon Place. Wallis went there four years and, while she wasn't particularly interested in sports, did play on the basketball team.

One of her classmates was Mary Kirk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Kirk, Jr. Mary Kirk made her bow in society the same night as Wallis Warfield. Later she was to be one the bridesmaids at Wallis' wedding. Today, as Mrs. Jacques Raffray of New York, she denies emphatically that, in the event of a divorce between Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, she (Mrs. Raffray) will march to the altar with Ernest Simpson.

"There is not one word of truth in it," says Mrs. Raffray who returned only a few days ago from London where she visited Mrs. Simpson at her Bryanston Square apartment.

Point seemed to be added to the rumor of a possible romance by the fact that Mrs. Raffray is seperated from her husband, living at 780 Madison avenue, while he occupies an apartment down the street at 675.

But there will be no divorce, says Mrs. Raffray, denying that Ernest Simpson is on his way to the United States or has any intention of returning.

Back in the Baltimore days of 1914, a page of Wallis Warfield's diary (if there had been a diary) would have read something like this:

Monday — Luncheon at the Stafford for Augusta Eareckson, given by her mother, Mrs. W.R. Eareckson.

Wednesday afternoon — Oyster roast at 1 p.m. at Albert Graham Ober's country place in the Green Spring Valley for his niece.

Wednesday night — Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Beacham's party for Priscilla at Lehmann Hall.

Thursday — Luncheon at the Baltimore Country Club for Mary Kirk given by her mother.

Saturday — Trip to Norfolk, Va., to spend the week end with Mrs. Floyd Hughes.

Met Husband in Florida

Wallis Warfield was at the Lyric theater the night a fashionable audience, gathered to see Anna Pavlowa dance, burst into "ahs" and "ohs" as Harry Lehr, believed to be in Paris, strolled down the aisle, creating more of a sensation than the Russian ballerina on the stage.

After the holidays, the social rush died away. Wallis Warfield and six other girls planned a party to break the dullness. The invitations issued from the only unconventional note in the hitherto strictly conventional pattern of that debutante year.

The invitations read:
"A hen committee requests the pleasure of your company at a hen dance to be given on the evening of January 8 at 9 o'clock at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Clark, 1118 North Charles St."

There were other cotillions, other parties. During the two years, following her debut, Wallis Warfield spent almost as much time in Washington and Philadelphia as she did in Baltimore. She went to Annapolis to football games and dances. Each year she attended the annual ball given by Major General Barnett and Mrs. Barnett at their country estate, Wakefield Manor, near Washington. Mrs. Barnett was Wallis' mother's cousin. Sometimes Wallis went to parties given by another cousin of her mother, Mrs. Alexander Brown of Baltimore, whose daughter married T. Suffern Tailer.

Other girls who "came out" in 1914 announced engagements, sent out invitations for their weddings. Wallis remained "Miss Warfield."

And then, early in 1916, she went to Florida to visit Mrs. Henry Musteyn whose husband was in the naval service at Pensacola. There Wallis Warfield met Lieut. Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr., of Chicago, handsome, indeed, in the uniform of a naval aviator.

Wholeheartedly, ecstatically Wallis fell in love!

Next: Marriage and divorce — another chapter in the life of Wallis Warfield, Baltimore girl who became "the most talked-of woman in the world."
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