I was enjoying this small social triumph, but them a girl sitting on the other side of the pool lowered her book, took off her sunglasses and looked at me. She was so extraordinarily beautiful that I nearly laughed out loud. I didn't, of course, which was just as well. The girl was not, and, quite clearly, was not going to be laughing back.
I had an idea that, finding nothing of interest, she was looking right through me and was examining the texture of the wall behind. If there was a flaw in the sandstone, I knew she'd find it and probe it right to the pith. I fancied that if she chose so, the house would eventually collapse.
I smiled at her and, after a moment, just as I felt my own smile turning into a cross-eyed grimace, she started slightly and smiled back. There was little friendliness in the smile. A new ice cube formed of its own accord in my Scotch-on-the-rocks. She sipped some beer and went back to her book. I affected to become social with the others but out of the corner of my mind - while I played for the others the part of a poor miner's son who was puzzled, but delighted by the attention these lovely people paid to him - I had her under close observation.
She was, I decided, the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen. She spoke to no one. She looked at no one. She steadily kept on reading her book. Was she merely sullen, I wondered? I thought not.
There was no trace of sulkiness in the divine face. She was a Mona Lisa type, I thought. In my business everyone is a type. She is older than the deck chair on which she sits, I thought headily, and she is famine, fire, destruction, and plague, she is the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, the only true begetter. She is a secret wrapped up in an enigma inside a mystery, I thought, with a mental man-to-man nod to Churchill. Her breasts were apocalyptic, they would topple empires down before they withered. Indeed, her body was a miracle of construction and the work of an engineer of genius.
It needed nothing except itself. It was smitten by its own passion.
Burton Writes Of Taylor
Vogue March 1965
Photography: William Klein
POP For Every High There's A Lo Lo
Autumn Issue 2007
Photography: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott
Once A Great Beauty