Clare Frewen Sheridan

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Clare Consuelo Sheridan née Frewen
Clare Sheridan 1922 by Genthe.gif
Born 9 September 1885
London, England
Died 31 May 1970 (aged 84)
Occupation Sculptor and writer
Spouse(s) William Frederick Sheridan (1879–1915) (m. 1910)[1]
Children Margaret Sheridan alias Mary Motley (1912–1980)
Elizabeth Sheridan (1913–1914)
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1915–1937)
Parent(s) Moreton Frewen (1853–1924)
Clarita Jerome (1851–1935)

Clare Sheridan (born as Clare Consuelo Frewen; also known as Clare Consuelo Sheridan) (9 September 1885 – 31 May 1970), was an English sculptor and writer known primarily for creating busts for famous sitters, and writing diaries recounting her worldly travels. She was a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill, with whom she had enjoyed an amicable relationship, though her support for the October Revolution caused them to break ranks politically in the 1920s.

Early life[edit]

Clare Consuelo Frewen was born in London, the daughter of Moreton Frewen of East Sussex and his American wife, the former Clarita "Clara" Jerome. Her mother was the elder sister of Lady Randolph Churchill. She married Wilfred Frederick Sheridan in 1910; they had three children. Wilfred Sheridan was a Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade, he was killed while leading his men at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Her godmother and namesake was Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough.

After the death of her second child, Elizabeth, in 1914, Sheridan sculpted a weeping angel as an outpouring for her grief. It was from this piece of art that she discovered an ability for sculpting, and after the death of her husband a year later, she moved from France to London to study under John Tweed and Professor Édouard Lantéri.

While visiting America, Sheridan had a love affair with Charlie Chaplin. She enjoyed travelling around the world, and among her circle of friends were Princess Margaret of Sweden, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, Lady Diana Cooper, Vita Sackville-West and Vivien Leigh.

Her famous busts of her first cousin Churchill can be found at Blenheim Palace, Chartwell, Harrow School and Hastings Town Hall; the original plaster is in the possession of her great-nephew Jonathan Frewen. In 1956 Sheridan moved to Belmont House a fine property in Hastings Old Town. She had a large collection of Native American artifacts, some of which are on display at Hastings Museum and in the Frewen family's ancestral village of Brede in Sussex.

Soviet Russia[edit]

Bust of Lev Kamenev by Sheridan

In the summer of 1920 a Soviet Russian trade delegation on a visit to London invited Clare to travel to Russia to make busts of notable revolutionaries. In the autumn she travelled to Moscow, where her sculpting subjects included Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky and Lev Kamenev. While in Russia Sheridan is reputed to have had affairs with more than one of her sitters. Her reputed relationship with Kamenev is thought to have led to his divorce from his first wife, Olga Kameneva;[2] and author Robert Service, in his 2009 book, claims to an affair between Sheridan and Trotsky.[3] Trotsky signed and dedicated a painting of himself to Clare.

In 1924, Sheridan and her brother, Royal Navy officer Oswald Frewen, made a then-daring long-distance motorcycle riding journey from Sussex through Europe to the USSR, ending in Odessa. The 4,226-mile (6,801 km) ride[4] occurred between July and September 1924 with Frewen at the controls of a 799 cc, 7 hp AJS motorcycle and Sheridan in the sidecar.[5][6] The AJS, nicknamed Satanella, is said to have been the first British motorcycle in the Soviet Union.[7] Sheridan published a memoir of the journey, Across Europe with Satanella in 1925.

Sheridan's dalliance with known Soviet agents earned her the suspicions of the Security Service. She earned an MI5 file that noted: "She has conducted herself in a disloyal manner in various foreign countries, adopting a consistently anti-British attitude."[8] Later in 1925 Sheridan moved to Algiers, where it was noted by MI5 that "she appeared to be comfortably off and debt-free for the first time in 10 years".[8]

Conversion and death[edit]

After the war she converted to Roman Catholicism travelling to Assisi for that purpose and she moved to The Spanish Arch Galway, where she continued to sculpt, albeit subjects and icons of religious importance before returning to live in Belmont House in Hastings, Sussex. She died in 1970 at the age of 84, having outlived two of her three children. She is buried in the churchyard of St George's, Brede, Sussex beside her nephew Roger Frewen [d 1972] and her great-niece Selina Frewen [d 1972].

Written works[edit]

  • Russian Portraits (1921)
  • Mayfair to Moscow: Clare Sheridan's Diary (1921)
  • My American Diary (New York, Boni and Liveright)(1922)
  • In Many Places (1923)
  • West to East (1923)
  • Sheridan, Clare (1925). Across Europe with Satanella. New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  • The Thirteenth (Duckworth, 1925)
  • A Turkish Kaleidoscope (1926)
  • Nuda Veritas (1927); published in the U.S. as Naked Truth (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1928)
  • Arab Interlude (1936)
  • Without End (1939)
  • To the Four Winds (1957)


  1. ^ The
  2. ^ Kehoe, Elisabeth; The Titled Americans: Three American Sisters and the English Aristocratic World Into Which They Married, Atlantic Monthly Press, (2004) pg.325. ISBN 0-87113-924-3
  3. ^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2009-10-11). "Trotsky by Robert Service: review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  4. ^ "The "Satanella" Epic", The Examiner (Tasmania), January 30, 1926: 6 
  5. ^ Anita Leslie (May 2006), "Sheridan [née Frewen], Clare Consuelo (1885–1970), sculptor and journalist", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press) 
  6. ^ Plummer, Roy (February–March 2012), "Clare Sheridan" (PDF), Sunbeam Club News (Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club): 15 
  7. ^ Tesch, Bernd (May 11, 2014), Europa-Motorrad-Reisen [Europe by Motorcycle] (in German), retrieved 2014-05-20 
  8. ^ a b Tweedie, Neil and Day, Peter (2002-02-28). "MI5 suspected Churchill's cousin was a red spy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 

External links[edit]