Nadja Malacrida

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Nadja Malacrida
Marchesa Malacrida de Saint-August
Nadia Malacrida at marriage, 1922 (cropped).jpg
Malacrida at the time of her marriage, 1922
BornLouisa Nadia Green
Hampstead, London, England
Died3 October 1934 (aged 37–38)
BuriedFairmile Cemetery, Henley-on-Thames
Spouse(s)Piero Malacrida de Saint-August
FatherCharles E. Green
  • writer
  • radio broadcaster
  • racing driver
  • socialite
Ritratto dalla Marchesa Malacrida (1926) by Ettore Tito

Louisa, Marchesa Malacrida de Saint-August (born Louisa Nadia Green; 1896 – 3 October 1934), known by the noms de plume Nadja Malacrida and Nadja, was an English writer, radio broadcaster, racing driver, and socialite. A novelist, playwright, and poet, she published three books of war poetry during the First World War. An Italian aristocrat by marriage, she was a prominent figure of 20th-century London high society.

Early life[edit]

Malacrida, an only child, was born in 1896[1] in Hampstead, London. Her father, Charles E. Green, was a businessman.[2][3] She grew up at Paddockhurst in Sussex, the country estate of her uncle and aunt, Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray and Annie Cass.[4]


Malacrida published her first collection of poems, Evergreen, at the age of fourteen.[5] A second edition was published in 1912.[5] During the War, she published three volumes of poetry: Love and War (1915), For Empire and other poems (1916) and The full heart (1919).[6] Brian Murdoch finds Malacrida's war poetry "well worth rescuing from the obscurity of the lost voices" and sees some ambiguity in the long poem "For Empire" for which the collection For Empire and other poems is named, with "very little of the patriotic tonality left".[7] She donated the proceeds of her war poetry to two First World War charities that still exist as of 2019: St. Dunstan's, a home for soldiers blinded in the war, now with a wider remit under the name Blind Veterans UK, and the Star and Garter Home for Disabled Soldiers, now the Royal Star and Garter Home, Richmond.[6]

Malacrida and her husband collaborated writing two lightly disguised romans à clef about the London society scene, using the pseudonym P. N. Piermarini: Life Begins To-Day (1923) and Footprints on the Sand (1924).[6][8] She also wrote a play, Cheque Mate, in 1932, using the masculine pen name Lewis Hope.[9]

Malacrida took part in an early John Logie Baird television broadcast in 1933,[6] and in 1934, the last year of her life, she frequently read mostly Victorian prose excerpts and poetry on BBC radio, under the name Nadja Green.[10] She also appeared in a national newspaper advertising campaign for Vim household cleaner,[6] where she was quoted as explaining that it was "no use having new ideas of decoration if you have old ideas of dirt"[11] and contrasting the dusty hangings and bric-à-brac of the Victorian era with the simple, spare modern interiors, which must be kept clean because "every speck and spot is glaringly obvious".[11]

Personal life[edit]

Cover of Finale. The same image was used as the frontispiece, captioned "From the painting by Ettore Tito in the library of Duneckt House, Aberdeenshire."[12] That house was also owned by the Cowdrays.[13]

In June 1921, Malacrida met her future husband, Marchese Piero Malacrida de Saint-August, an Italian journalist and former cavalry officer, at a charitable fundraising event known as Alexandra Rose Day at The Ritz Hotel, London.[6] They were married on 6 December 1922, at St Bartholomew-the-Great,[1] making her the Marchesa Malacrida de Saint-August.[14] Her husband's family were a noble family from Lombardy. Shortly after their wedding, her husband expanded his activities into writing on interior design, and designing interiors, especially luxury bathrooms, for the upper class. The couple would buy flats at smart London addresses, then remodel and sell them, trading under the name "Olivotti".[11][15] The Malacridas were celebrities of their time, appearing at all the big society functions, and much reported on in the newspapers of the day.[6] The marriage was reportedly very happy. They wrote to each other every day when apart,[12] and their correspondence during her final month was published as Finale. Self-portrait of Nadja Malacrida. after her death in 1934, including her memoir by the Malacridas' friend Cecil Roberts.[14][12]

Her portrait in oil was painted in 1926 by Ettore Tito. It was donated by her husband to the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna in 1981,[16] two years before his death. Another portrait, by Olive Snell, featured on the front cover of the 4 December 1929 issue of The Sketch.[17][18]


On 3 October 1934, Malacrida was killed in a single-vehicle crash while driving, alone, back to London from Cecil Roberts' country cottage near Henley. Her car left the road and plunged down an embankment; she died instantly from a broken neck.[15] She was an experienced and competent driver, who had driven a car for 20 years.[6] The couple shared a love of fast driving and owned several vehicles including Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes and Isotta Fraschini,[19] and she had previously driven at Brooklands motor racing circuit.[6] She is buried at Fairmile Cemetery, Henley-on-Thames.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b "Formerly Miss Nadja Green...". The Sketch. 13 December 1922.
  2. ^ The Jurist. 11. S. Sweet. 28 September 1848. p. 140 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Year corrected by family member in 2014. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  4. ^ Condon, Ian (February 2010). A House Called Paddockhurst: A Short History of Worth's Victorian Mansion. Worth School. p. 9. ISBN 978-0956522900.
  5. ^ a b Preface to the second edition (1912). Accessed 19 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lucy London (2015). "Nadja Malacrida (1895–1934) poet, writer, & broadcaster", in the 2015 reprint of Love and War". Poshupnorth Publishing, Her year of birth was given as 1895 in this reprint, but later corrected to 1896 by Lucy London.
  7. ^ Brian Murdoch (1 March 2009). "For Empire, England's Boys, and the Pageant of War: Women's War Poetry in the Year of the Somme." Journal of the English Association, Volume 58, Issue 220, Spring 2009, Pages 29–53. Accessed 21 September 2019.
  8. ^ British Library catalogue. Accessed 18 September 2019.
  9. ^ Wearing, J. P. (2014). The London Stage 1930-1939: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 211. ISBN 9780810893047.
  10. ^ Radio Times 1923–2009. Accessed 19 September 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Vim advertisement, Nottingham Evening Post, 16 October 1929, p. 4.
  12. ^ a b c Cecil Roberts, ed. (1934). Finale. Self-portrait of Nadja Malacrida. Correspondence Between Nadja and Piero Malacrida, Aug. 1934. With a Memoir by Cecil Roberts.
  13. ^ Historic Environment Scotland, "Dunecht House  (Category A) (LB3133)", retrieved 28 March 2019
  14. ^ a b de Hegedus, Adam (12 January 1936). "A Memorial in Letters". The Observer. p. 4.
  15. ^ a b Tinniswood, Adrian (2016). The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between The Wars. Random House. pp. 164–169. ISBN 978-1-4481-9124-6.
  16. ^ Ghersetti, Antonella (April 2007). "La "Donazione S.A. Bonebakker" a Ca' Foscari" (PDF). Cafoscari (in Italian): 16.
  17. ^ "Sketch cover - the Marchesa Malacrida". Mary Evans Prints Online. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  18. ^ "[cover]". The Sketch. Vol. CXLVIII no. 1923. 4 December 1929. p. 1.
  19. ^ Roberts, Cecil (1935). Finale. Self-portrait of Nadja Malacrida. London: Hutchinson & Co. p. 16. OCLC 561516208.
  20. ^ "Town Marks Armistice Day". Henley Herald. 12 November 2014.
  21. ^ "The Book of Plans Hopes and Dreams" (PDF). p. 106.