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Joan Ann Werner Laurie
(November 17, 1920 - March 21, 1964) U.K.

Joan Laurie

Women's magazine editor


In 1955, a quiet revolution occurred in the hitherto cosy world of women's magazines: She was launched onto an unsuspecting world - in more senses than one. The magazine's editor was Joan Werner Laurie and its main contributor was Britain's best-known female media personality, Nancy Spain.

What most She readers were unaware of was that Joan and Nacy had been a couple since 1950 and were raising two sons in what was, for he time, a remarkably publicly avowed 'pretend family'. Nancy's flamboyant, show-off articles, coupled with Joan's steady, astute editing, made She the women's magazine that broke the mould and paved the way for the likes of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

She lived openly with the journalist and broadcaster Nancy Spain and later the couple provided a home to Windmill Theatre owner and rally driver Sheila van Damm. Among her other achievements she was herself a competent rally driver and navigator.

She was learning to fly when she died, with Nancy Spain and four others, in a light aeroplane crash on her way to the Grand National - the Civil Aviation Authority Accident Reported ended with the words "Passenger interference cannot be ruled out". She was cremated with Spain at Golder's Green Crematorium, London. The relationship between Werner Laurie and Spain is described in Rose Collis' posthumous biography of Nancy Spain, published in 1997.

Joan Laurie
Artist: Dame Ethel Walker (1861–1951)
Title: Miss Jean Werner Laurie
Media: Oil on canvas
Size: 61 x 50,8 cm
Location: UK - London - Tate Gallery


Source: Collis, R. Lesbian Portraits.

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