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Audrey Hepburn’s movie success and career uniquely showed her style, gracefulness, likability and projected a hopeful spirit. Earlier in her real life she saw her father and her mother (for a time) embracing Nazi Germany, her father abandoning her and her mother, disappearing into Fascist politics in England, and the terrible years of destitution and starvation in Nazi occupied Holland.
She later said that she decided when she was young that she could either reject life or love it and she decided to love it. She moved, penniless, to London, to study her dream of becoming a major ballet dancer and supported herself dancing in chorus lines and playing bit parts in films.
All through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s the trauma of her father’s sudden disappearance haunted her. She said it made her insecure for life, gave her a sense of helplessness and “trauma that left a very deep mark on me”. After 25 years, she tracked him down living in Dublin with a new wife Audrey’s age. She went with her husband, the actor Jose Ferrer, to see him. Even though he was unemotional and distant, she decided to forgive him in spite of everything he had done.
This collection of 19 Handwritten Letters Signed, from Switzerland, Madrid, and Rome, were written to her father between 1963 and his death in 1980. Two of the letters are written to Fidelma Hepburn, her father’s second wife, one just prior to her father’s death, and one shortly thereafter.
The letters give an intimate insight into Hepburn’s feelings and relationships, and documents her work, activities and events at many significant moments in her life from 1963 to 1980. The letters discuss Hepburn’s movies — Charade (1963) and My Fair Lady (1964) and her marriage to her first husband Mel Ferrer and his film work. Not least of all, the letters reveal her deep love, caring for and educating her two sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti, and her relationships with her mother, a Dutch baroness, and her father.
Hepburn signs these letters either “Audrey” or variations on “M.P.” — an abbreviation for Monkey Puzzle, her father’s nickname for her. Apparently, he called her this because as a child she was a little monkey and hard to understand.
From the time of this reunion she kept a photograph of her father and herself on her dressing table. In October 1980, when Hepburn received word that her father was gravely ill, she desperately wanted to see him again but was full of trepidation. She asked Rob Wolders, her close friend, to come with her. “We flew to Dublin, and it was an amazing experience,” Wolders recalls. “ …He said extraordinary things about [Audrey] and about his regrets for not having given her more in her childhood, for not showing his love for her.” He died the next day, October 16, 1980, at the age of ninety… “What’s important,” says Wolders, “is that she had no bitterness toward him… She didn’t hate him for his fascism, but she became what she was in reaction to it.”