v 6.40.00
19 Dec 2022
updated 21 Dec 2022

Sofka Zinovieff, subsequently Skipwith,
née Princess Sophia Petrovna Dolgorukov
(23 Oct 1907 – 26 Feb 1994)

I've seen her described as passionate rather than beautiful, but these qualities aren't mutually exclusive and from the evidence of this photograph, I'd say that she possessed both in super-abundance. In later years she tended towards stoutness, but nevertheless managed to work her through over 100 lovers in addition to two husbands of her own and her long-term partner Jack. She was renowned for pep-talks, to which she would subject every new female acquaintance, on the importance of effective contraception!

She was also described as being monstrously selfish, and was culpably neglectful of her three sons, but was capable of great kindness and courage, particularly during the Second War, during which she was interned in France, when she made great efforts to save many hundreds of Jews from the clutches of the Nazis. She had been born into great wealth and luxury in Tsarist Russia, but during her internment converted to Communism (of the idealistic kind, not the murderous Bolshevik variety) and spent her last decades living in a small Cornish cottage with a retired English trade-unionist.

Her lifetime's journey from St Petersburg to Bodmin Moor was almost unbelievably eventful and colourful, and has been the subject of countless articles in the media to this very day.

The first I read was a profile in the Observer (18 Oct 1987), which my wife Sonia had filed away years before. It was by then more than a little creased and mottled, but provides a very good overview of Sofka's life and times.