Stella Arbenina in 1923
|Born||Stella Zoe Whishaw
27 September 1884
St. Petersburg, Russia
|Died||26 April 1976
Surrey, England, UK
She was born Stella Zoe Whishaw in St. Petersburg to Robert Cattley Whishaw and Mary (née Gisiko). Her father was British and her mother hailed from an Anglo-Russian family who had made their home in Russia for several generations. Stella's brother was Montague Law Whishaw. Another relative, James Whishaw, was a British businessman in St Petersburg, who published his memoirs, A history of the Whishaw family, in London in 1935.
She was married in 1907 to Baron Paul Meyendorff, Captain in the Horse Guards and Aides-de-camp to Tsar Nicholas II in 1907 and then later Colonel in his Military Secretariat. Arbenina and Meyendorff had three children, Georgi, Helena and Irina.
During the Russian Revolution the family suffered greatly under the Bolsheviks. Their possessions were seized and they were imprisoned. Through efforts by the Baltic Germans Committee they were released from prison and finally permitted to leave Russia at end of 1918. They settled briefly in Estonia where they lived on a remnant of the family estates. Arbenina acted in theatres in Tallinn and Tartu, and also in Berlin, from 1921 to 1922. In 1923 she arrived with children in London, where she permanently settled, appearing in English stage and film roles. In 1930, she released her memoirs, Through Terror to Freedom, which describes her experiences during the Russian Revolution.
- The Last Witness (1925)
- The Secret Kingdom (1925)
- A Woman Redeemed (1927)
- Bracelets (1931)
- Stamboul (1931)
- Monsieur le duc[fr] (1931)
- Colonel Blood (1934)
- What Happened Then? (1934)
- Fine Feathers (1937)
- Merry Comes to Town (1937)
- Profile: Stella Arbenina, bfi.org.uk; accessed 26 July 2015.
- James Whishaw. A History of the Whishaw family (1935); "When I went to live permanently in St. Petersburg, the firm of Hills & Whishaw was much the oldest firm in that City — my father had his first training in the firm of which his father was senior partner. But when he was 21 or 22 years old, he determined to build up a business of his own and went to Archangel. There he succeeded very well and had become fairly well off when the approaching shadow of the Crimean War and the death of his little daughter Emily from whooping- cough determined him to take his family to England. In January 1854.."
- Howard Cox. The global cigarette: origins and evolution of British American Tobacco (2000); "These early developments by BAT Co. in South America were supervised by Montague Law Whishaw, a British subject who had been born in St Petersburg and recruited by BAT Co. in Russia during 1912 at the age of 22."
- Thomas C. Owen. The Corporation under Russian Law, 1800–1917: A Study in Tsarist ..., pg. 121 (2002); "A vivid example of his use of intimidation appears in the memoirs of a prominent British merchant in Petersburg, James Whishaw, who managed the Russian affairs of numerous London businessmen. Whishaw earned a sizable income leasing land for petroleum drilling operations carried out in Baku by English companies. Since he had taken Russian citizenship, the onerous restrictions on foreigners, especially the need to obtain permission from the Ministry.."
- Whishaw Meyendorff, Stella Zoe: Through terror to freedom: The dramatic story of an English woman's life and adventures in Russia before, during & after the revolution. Hutchinson & Co. Ltd. 1929.