Marguerite Littman was beside the pool at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice with Tennessee Williams when a cadaverous girl came shambling past wearing a bikini. “Look, anorexia nervosa,” Littman said to her companion. “Oh, Marguerite, you know everyone,” came Williams’s reply.

It was true: David Hockney, Bianca Jagger and Bill Blass were among Littman’s associates. Truman Capote was said to have modelled his Southern heroine Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s on her, Elizabeth Taylor sought to emulate her drawl when playing Maggie in the film adaptation of Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and she shared with Princess Diana a running list of people who brought “oxygen into a room”.

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