Miss Laura Mabel Francatelli

  • Thread starter Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)
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Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey)

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Does anyone know what became of Miss Francatelli, affectionately called Miss Franks by her mistress, Lady Duff Gordon? I have always been curious about what happened to her, and if anyone can help me, I would be greatly appreciative.
 
May 12, 2005
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Lady Duff Gordon's "companion" Laura Francatelli was alternately employed as a business secretary and a social secretary, interchanging with another lady friend Ruby Sutton. Laura, who was actually called "Franks" or "Frankie" and not "Miss Franks," was the older sister of one of Lady Duff Gordon's models, Phyllis Francatelli, who was employed beginning in 1909-10. Laura came about the same time; the first mention of her is during Lady Duff Gordon's 1910 visit to New York to open a branch of her fashion salon "Lucile." After the "Titanic," she and "Madame," as she always called Lady Duff Gordon, traveled together a great deal. During the First World War, when Lady Duff Gordon was living and working mainly in the USA, "Franks" was with her as her live-in social secretary; she was probably what we would today call a personal assistant. There seems to have been some trouble when Franks decided to get married for Lady Duff Gordon felt abandoned by her young confidante. She moved out but continued to work for and travel with "Madame," though less frequently. She remained with her until about 1921. Lord Halsbury, Lady Duff Gordon's grandson (who sadly died at 91 in January), remembered her well as "Frankie" - he said she was high-spirited and very devoted to "Gar," his childhood nickname for his grandmother. He knew her in later years when she returned from Switzerland to London. But he couldn't remember what happened to her. He said "Gar" was very fond of her and spoke well of her always. All this comes from my research into Lady Duff Gordon's career. I recommend you get a copy of "The 'It' Girls," a dual bio of "Lucile" & her equally famed novelist-sister Elinor Glyn, by Meredith Etherington-Smith. There is more info there on Franks. I hope this helps.There are a few pictures the family has of Franks in group shots with Lady Duff Gordon & others. I do not have copies of these. I have many of Lucile and Cosmo, loaned me from Halsbury & from Andrew Duff Gordon, their great nephew. I am to be seeing Lucile's great granddaughters in London next month after a special service of Thanksgiving for Lord Halsbury and will be asking about what is being done with his collection of his grandmother's letters and momentos - some of these I know are going to the V & A. I also wrote a 2 pt article on the Duff Gordons for the THS journal some time ago - Spring/Summer '91 issues I believe.