It's currently set in the middle of the University of Nairobi, the city pulsing and roaring until you step through the lobby and into the courtyard. I've pored over every photo of her I can find, but being here, where she was, gives me a more visceral empathy. Infidelities were expected, if not mandatory—but so too was a scrim of civilized deception that kept the right people shielded and the surface intact. When news of his bride's sexual impulsivity leaked back to Jock Purves, he picked loud, public fights, which horrified the community. Delamere (known as "D") had been a neighbor during her childhood in Njoro and was a surrogate parent after her mother left for England.Not yet 17, and shell-shocked from the impending sale of her father's farm, she would have been bewildered about the future and her new husband—and poised to make some of her notorious mistakes. He was also the unofficial emperor of the white settlers and is still considered the most influential landowner in Kenya's history.The early settlers' first stop was invariably the Norfolk Hotel—my first stop as well. In the veranda bar, the Cin Cin, slung with deep-cushioned rattan, I need only one bracing Negroni and a bit of squinting to see it as it was 100 years ago, settlers and hunters and dignitaries, as well as every British peer of note, gathering for gossipy high tea, or preparing to go on safari.

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She was far too good-looking, so she was sent packing.

"She was much disliked by other people's wives," Anne adds, "but when we saw her in town we would scoop her up and feed her.

Also that her only son, Gervase, was the product of a liaison with Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (he toured Kenya on safari with his brother Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1928), that Beryl's second husband, Mansfield Markham, threatened to name the duke as corespondent in his divorce claim against her, and that monies put in trust by Prince Henry's mother, Queen Mary, to keep everyone's mouth shut paid out an annuity to Markham for the remainder of her life.

If one were inclined to take these and other rumors straight from the spoon, it would be nothing to write off Markham as an illiterate alcoholic who rarely, if ever, got off her back.

My research had supplied me with a glorious sepia-toned image of Nairobi, but I also knew to expect the lurching modern world, sprawling slums and high-rises, traffic snarls and armed askari checking trucks for bombs.

Radical Islam and Ebola have sent Kenya's economy teetering.

"So there are many Africas," Markham wrote in West with the Night.

"There are as many Africas as there are books about Africa." Indeed.

But after spending more than a year plumbing her voice and psyche, I was weary of innuendo and began to think it was high time I left my desk and stacks of sources to search her out on her own turf.