- Education and Science
Violette Morris: An Astonishing Tale
Violette Morris - sportswoman
I wrote recently about the French dancer and racing driver Helle Nice, and she always remembered her first race where she first came across the rather fearsome Violette Morris.
As you can see from the photograph above, Violette was almost the opposite of the small, feminine and fun-loving Helle.
If the name is not familiar to you, and today only a handful of motorsport historians know about her for reasons which will become obvious, then you'll be surprised about how she met her end.
Furthermore, that rather noticeable (you can't miss them) pair of bazonkas came to a strange end too - and not at the same time as their owner. Intrigued? Well, this is a strange story...
She is not showcasing her underwear here. This photograph, from 1913, shows her athletic outfit and athletic she certainly was.
She took part in almost every physical sport you can imagine. This included soccer, weightlifting and boxing. But she tried her hand at mechanical sports too - flying, motorbike racing and of course, circuit car racing. She looks formidable and not the sort of person you'd want to argue with, that's for sure.
It seemed that she feared nothing and during the Great War she worked as a nurse and a courier in the thick of the action.
She was, as you can see, a rather large and well-endowed girl and incredibly strong. She excelled at sports that required that element of physical strength such as shot putt. Racing the heavy cars of the day were no problem to her and her great strength apart from one thing.
Look at the photograph again. She might seem to be smiling pleasantly but look at those eyes. Can't you detect something? Something a little ruthless? That smiling girl is quite scary to me and quite rightly, as we shall see.
She made no secret of the fact that she was a lesbian and preferred to dress as a man. She smoked and cursed with enthusiasm. The sporting officials weren't completely happy about that.
But Violette, if she is remembered at all, it is as -
- the woman racing driver who had her breasts removed - voluntarily.
As the owner of what my racing hero dad always refers to as 'a pair of poached eggs', I can't imagine how inconvenient those huge bazonkas must have been, especially for a racing driver.
She thought so too and in February 1929, she decided to have the things removed. True.
I have known many racing drivers, I was brought up in racing family. I know about the sacrifices that many go to. But nevertheless...
But racing drivers are ideally small. Those cockpits are tight. And particularly in days gone by, freedom of arm movement was essential. But nevertheless...
(Sidenote: I have never seen this suggested anywhere but couldn't it be possible that she actually had a double mastectomy for medical - or even cross-dressing - reasons but chose to say that it was for racing reasons? But nevertheless...)
Although Violette was not in favour with the French sporting authorities, those in neighbouring Germany thought otherwise and invited her to the 1936 Olympic Games. This must have boosted her ego considerably because everyone in her home country seemed to disapprove of her lifestyle.
The Second World War
I don't understand Dutch (if that's what it is) but I wanted to include this so you can see more images of the lady in question - seemingly now sans poitrine.
Racing ground to a halt during the Second World War. Some drivers in Europe fled to America if they had the means. Many served in the military, often heroically.
Of the women, some went to drive ambulances or supply trucks. Others nursed or generally contributed to the war effort. Violette was different.
Ever since the Olympics in 1936 she had been a Nazi supporter.
She became a secret agent working for the Nazis and some say, a torturer. Living on a barge in Paris, she was given the job of infiltrating the French Resistance who were working under cover against the Germans who were occupying France.
This couldn't last. In 1944,on April 29th, she was driving down a country lane - on what sort of mission we may never know - where her car was stopped by five members of the French Resistance.
They opened fire with sub-machine guns and riddled her body with bullets.
Check out these fascinating books.
I mentioned Helle Nice above and this book about her life (non-fiction) is highly recommended.She was also a French racing driver but that's where any similarity ends.
Helle had an extravagant lifestyle (she started her career as a nude model) and many lovers.Find out from this book how it was that she died penniless and unknown.
Who was Lou Villars? She is the partly-fictional version of Violette Morris.
The author was originally intrigued by a 1930s photograph of two lesbians. Further investigation showed that the 'man' in the photograph was Violette.
The author intended to write a factual account of Morris' life but decided ultimately to make it into a work of fiction. It's an excellent study of life in Paris in those days and is fine read.
All images copyright free from Wikimedia Commons
Don't you think this is an amazing story? Wouldn't it make the most amazing film?
(Dear Movie Company, if you like the suggestion, please credit me - financially - with the idea!)
© 2014 Jackie Jackson