Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Girl With the Mousy Hair: Hermione Farthingale

It's been a long time since I wrote a post about a rock woman (even if I only wrote about Heather Taylor and Karen Astley). Maybe it was because I had very little time lately. Anyway, I felt like writing another post about a rock woman and in view of my recent passion for David Bowie's music, it was to be expected that I would write about his first real love, Hermione Farthingale.

Hermione Dennis was born to a lawyer and grew up in Edenbridge, Kent. She studied classical ballet and took part mostly as a dancer in many films including: Inspector Clouseau (1968), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Song of Norway (1969), The Boy Friend (1971) and The Great Waltz (1972). She also partecipated to several TV shows.

She met David Bowie in 1968 during the shooting of The Pistol Shot and the two of them danced a minuet with a group of other dancers led by Lindsay Kemp. Later David accompanied Hermione to Sheperd Bush's tube station: and David's first real relationship began. 
Afterwards David moved to Hermione's house (22nd, Clareville Grove), near Brompton Road, South Kensington, West London. The house became the base of the Turquoise, a band consisting of David, Hermione and Tony Hill, the Misunderstood's guitarist. Then they formed a new band, the Feathers, with a new member, John Hutchinson. Their first live show was on 17th November 1968. 
David and Hermione spent some weeks with four Tibetan lamas in Scotland.

Hermione decided to concentrate on her own career and she passed several months away from England to take part in many shootings. Her relationship with David began to fade away because of her several tours. In 1969 the Feathers made the film Love You Till Tuesday and then Hermione went to Norway to take part in the film Song of Norway in 1970.
During the shooting she met a dancer named Stephen Reinhardt and Hermione began a new relationship with him. In 1971 she joined the Welsh National Opera's ballet company.
David only saw her once ever since. He tried to get her back by sending her messages through his songs but, as he said: "It didn't work: I didn't see her anymore."

Hermione moved to Papua New Guinea in 1972 and there she married her boyfriend, a doctor who became an anthropologist.

She inspired the songs Letter to Hermione, An Occasional Dream and Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed. She's also the girl with the mousy hair of the song Life On Mars?.
"I was totally head-over-heels in love with her, and the breakup sort of demolished me... It set me off on the Space Oddity song."
David Bowie

Awaiting to record Ching-A-Ling, 27th November 1968

Hermione, David and John Hutchinson recording Ching-A-Ling at Trident Studio, November 1968

David and Hermione at the Country Club, Hampstead, London, 20th October 1968


With Horst Buchholz in 1972

Screenshots from the film Love You Till Tuesday

During the filming of Love You Till Tuesday at Hampstead Heath Park, North London, 26th January 1969

Images sources:
Youtube Love You Till Tuesday


  1. It was The Pistol Shot not The Gun Shot

    1. Oops, you are right! Thanks for pointing this out, it's a mistake I made while I was translating the film's title from Italian to English!

  2. You have a wonderful blog. Very creative. Come visit my Sixties and Seventies blog for a groovy vintage time.

  3. this is great... this psychic chick i barely know contacted me on fb recently saying that i need to start a blog, i need to write, and that im meant to possibly write a book and that it will be intensely healing for me... i do write but i wasnt so receptive bc honestly most blogs ive come across are this was super inspiring to me... "life on mars" is my favorite bowie tune and i was trying to think of a catchy title for a friends book i came up with "its a godawful small affair: traversing the road of spirit, sex, coffee, and chocolate" then i realized i dont know the EXACT meaning of the song- i have my own interpretation- at face value it is about the sort of pointless struggle of human density but for me i like to "big picture" everything so i think of it as someones soul looking (down?) at their human self kind of transcending the mediocrity... anyway- if this is how cool a blog can be im in..... if i could give you a cookie over the internet i would- good job :)

  4. This is a surprisingly accurate account of some of the facts. Usually there is so much fiction. Thank you, Francesca! Hermione

  5. "The hand that wrote the letter sweeps the pillow clean"

    Fantastic Hermoine that you re back in the limelight
    My best from Scotland

  6. She didn't have gray/mousy hair though...

  7. Interestingly, David is shown briefly wearing a "Song of Norway" t-shirt in the video for "Where Are We Now". I'm not even going to TRY to analyze that.

  8. It was bloody cold that day on location, prior our studio shoot in Greenwich. And the final decision had not been made, whether or not the new song 'Space Oddity' was the right finale for the 'Love You Till Tuesday' film.

    Ach, Francesca, when you think of the cover version filmed in a 'tin can' in earth orbit released today... words fail me.

  9. Fantastic, Some really nice rare Photos as well, Thanks. M.

  10. Interesting, i followed the link to your blog from lyricsmeaning- Life on Mars.
    Bowie seems to return to motifs developed early on, throughout the years.
    The lyrics from life on mars seem to be satirical though, she came from a wealthier background than Bowie, i wonder if that had an effect on tone.

    1. I bet it did on her part..

  11. Wow. I'm not trying to be mean, or anything, but it makes me wonder what he saw in Angie.

    1. Angie was great for him back in '73. Once David got big, Angie became obsolete. Kind of like Hermione with David. Just a thought.

  12. I've watched a few interviews with Angie. She seems to be a bit of an opportunist. And she seems kind of trashy. Like someone you'd meet in a corner bar. Very gruff and rude. I really do not understand that relationship at all.