Muriel Wright

Muriel Wright

Muriel Wright, the daughter of Henry Fitzherbert Wright, was born in 1909. The family lived at Yeldersley Hall, near Ashbourne. Her father played cricket for Derbyshire and was an active member of the Conservative Party. He served as a Justice of the Peace and was vice chair of the County Council. In 1912 Wright was elected to represent Leominster in the House of Commons.

As a result of her wealthy background Muriel never had to work. According to Andrew Lycett: "She had a lucrative sideline as a model - one of the first women of her class in this field. Her specialty was showing off sports clothes, particularly the latest ski fashions. She also did beachwear."

In August 1935 she met Ian Fleming at Kitzbühel. Over the next four years they spent a great deal of time together. Fleming was dazzled by her looks but did not find her very stimulating company and continued to have relationships with other women, this included Mary Pakenham and Ann O'Neill, the wife of Shane Edward Robert O'Neill. Pakenham later recalled that he had two main topics of conversation - himself and sex: "He was always trying to show me obscene pictures of one sort or another. No one I have known has had sex so much on the brain as Ian in those days." Muriel's brother, Fitzherbert Wright, heard about the way Fleming was treating his sister and arrived at Ian's flat with a horsewhip. He was not there as he had taken Muriel to Brighton for the weekend.

Muriel Wright at Monte Carlo in August 1939
Muriel Wright at Monte Carlo in August 1939

On the outbreak of the Second World War Muriel became an air raid warden in Belgravia. However, according to a friend she found the uniform unflattering. She now became a small team of despatch riders at the Admiralty who roared around London on BSA motorcycles.

Muriel Wright was killed during an air raid in March 1944. Andrew Lycett, the author of Ian Fleming (1996) has pointed out: "All such casualties are, by definition, unlucky, but she was particularly so, because the structure of her new flat at 9 Eaton Terrace Mews was left intact. She died instantly when a piece of masonry flew in through a window and struck her full on the head. Because there was no obvious damage, no one thought to look for the injured or dead; it was only after her chow, Pushkin, was seen whimpering outside that a search was made. As her only known contact, Ian was called to identify her body, still in a nightdress. Afterwards he walked round to the Dorchester and made his way to Esmond and Ann's room. Without saying a word he poured himself a large glass of whisky, and remained silent. He was immediately consumed with grief and guilt at the cavalier way he had treated her." His friend, Dunstan Curtis, commented: "The trouble with Ian is that you have to get yourself killed before he feels anything."

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Andrew Lycett, Ian Fleming (1996)

All such casualties are, by definition, unlucky, but she (Muriel Wright) was particularly so, because the structure of her new flat at 9 Eaton Terrace Mews was left intact. She died instantly when a piece of masonry flew in through a window and struck her full on the head. Because there was no obvious damage, no one thought to look for the injured or dead; it was only after her chow, Pushkin, was seen whimpering outside that a search was made. As her only known contact, Ian was called to identify her body, still in a nightdress. Afterwards he walked round to the Dorchester and made his way to Esmond and Ann's room. Without saying a word he poured himself a large glass of whisky, and remained silent. He was immediately consumed with grief and guilt at the cavalier way he had treated her.