Other women hate me for being so sexy: So says the Oxford historian who's written the year's raciest book (and had three husbands by the age of 40)
- Lisa Hilton is Oxford historian who writes scholarly biographies about Tudor queens
- Her recently published book Maestra is a decadent tale of lust and lacy underwear
- It features a murderous female seductress called Judith who can remove a gentleman's trouser belt with her teeth
- Already sold in 38 countries, Maestra is being turned into a Hollywood film
Until now, Lisa Hilton has been known in academic circles as a glamorous Oxford historian and author, an intellectual who writes scholarly biographies about Tudor queens and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Well, hang on to your pomanders, ladies and gents. Her shocking new novel is about to change all that.
The recently published Maestra is a decadent tale of lust and lacy underwear, complete with a murderous female seductress called Judith who can remove a gentleman's trouser belt with her teeth.
Already sold in 38 countries, Maestra is being turned into a Hollywood film and has been described as the new Fifty Shades Of Grey, only don't say that to Lisa because she is fed up with the comparison already.
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Lisa Hilton's (pictured) recently published book Maestra is a decadent tale of lust and lacy underwear
'My book is not a love story like Fifty Shades, it is a thriller. If people buy it thinking they are going to get romance, they will be very disappointed,' she insists.
To say the least. Whereas Fifty Shades author E. L. James created a straightforward Cinderella romance, complete with dimwit heroine Anastasia, but spiced it up with a little bondage and whipping, L. S. Hilton — as she calls herself on the book jacket — takes a spike-heeled walk on the wild side with much more graphic sex scenes and multiple murders.
Her heroine Judith Rashleigh is a glamorous sociopath who likes to attend sex parties wearing not much more that a drop of scented oil and a smile.
Things merely happen to Anastasia in Fifty Shades, whereas in Maestra, Judith makes things happen. She is clear-eyed and angry, a woman of appetite who likes rough sex and develops a hunger for the 'purity of sheer carnal pleasure'.
Hilton's vivid depiction of Judith as a woman who behaves like the worst kind of man is somewhat troubling, as is her belief that a woman being penetrated by a number of different men isn't just a male sexual fantasy.
'My book is not a love story like Fifty Shades, it is a thriller,' says Lisa (pictured)
Lisa's (pictured with Andrew Neil) book Maestra is being turned into a Hollywood film and has been described as the new Fifty Shades Of Grey
No wonder that the man-pleasing Maestra is being marketed as a book that men will buy as well as women, complete with a central female character who is a bit like a sex-mad James Bond, only not quite so caring.
'Being bad is sexy, women don't need saccharine sex,' says Miss Hilton. Nor does she feel guilty about portraying her heroine as a ruthless sexual adventuress.
'Because it is a woman writing about a woman, one is held up to some kind of different moral standard,' she says.
'Nobody accuses Ian Rankin of immorality when he writes about a nasty criminals in Inspector Rebus. Nobody asks Martin Amis why his female characters aren't nicer.'
While keen to point out that her book is fiction, Hilton is known for writing erotic essays and newspaper articles about sex, and certainly lives up to her skittish sexpert reputation. Today she is wreathed in a lovely, smoky cloud of perfume; ooh what is it called? 'Carnal Flower,' she says.
Underneath her cashmere sweater and tight jeans, she is wearing, as usual, expensive French lingerie. 'My great passion. I love walking down the street knowing that underneath there is something lovely.'
Lisa's (pictured)heroine Judith Rashleigh is a glamorous sociopath who likes to attend sex parties wearing not much more that a drop of scented oil and a smile
It is her only personal extravagance, upon which she does not stint.
'The most I have ever spent? Oh God, £150 for a pair of knickers, but they are not for everyday. Don't put that in, I will get hate mail. Don't!'
She is joking of course — and anyway, Lisa Hilton is used to the animosity. She is the kind of man's woman whom men gravitate towards — even Phillip Schofield looked quite enamoured when she appeared on This Morning earlier in the week.
As a result she is often accused of having sex with more of them than she actually has — although I don't suppose it helps that she has now written a book about a nymphomaniac psychopath who sleeps around to get what she wants.
Renowned historian Lisa Hilton (pictured)
At a literary festival recently it was whispered that she slept with both historian Niall Ferguson and also bedded the host, Earl Spencer.
'Someone rang me up and said is it true that you had sex with Niall Ferguson in a tent at the festival. I said I would have had a job, he wasn't there. And to my knowledge, Earl Spencer was happily tucked up with the countess. He certainly wasn't in my bedroom. So, I don't know where that came from.'
Actually, she does. She knows exactly where it comes from. She names a prominent female novelist — someone who is not as attractive or as gifted a writer as Hilton herself, but is certainly better connected — whom she thinks is behind all the rumours.
'Vicious. She has got it in for me, that one. But no is the answer. Have I ever slept with Charles Spencer? No, no, no!'
A strange chorus line of men have danced through her life, however. She is friends with both singer Mick Hucknall and political pundit Andrew Neil and has dated several celebrities, including the chef Raymond Blanc.
'Oh, Raymond! I did want to have a T-shirt saying: 'Raymond Blanc is my kitchen helper.' We cooked a lot together and sometimes he would do the chopping for me. That was pretty cool.'
The author believes that she is 'not any more interested in sex than the next person, but I play up to it. If people are going to tar me with this brush well fine, knock yourself out.'
Of course, I suspect she rather enjoys it, too. Lisa has previously posed on a chaise longue in a corset and she boxes in the gym every day to keep herself looking svelte.
Recently, to promote Maestra, she took off most of her clothes for a magazine spread and, today, her commitment to perma-smouldering is marvellous to behold.
'Would you like me to pose in a bath towel and heels?' she asks our photographer who says, well erm, why not? In her defence, Hilton shrugs and says: 'Look. When I am extremely old I will be glad to have these pictures of me when I was more or less in my prime.'
Hilton's (pictured) vivid depiction of Judith as a woman who behaves like the worst kind of man is somewhat troubling
Maestra — the first of a planned trilogy — is set in London's art world and among Europe's flash new billionaires who move in shoals from Saint Tropez to Portofino.
It is sharp and extremely well written and, as befits a historian, Hilton was rigorous about her research. She interviewed bankers in Geneva, quizzed someone in the British Services about guns, and even tried to suffocate herself with a Maxi Pad to 'see if it was possible to gag someone with a sanitary towel'; a fate that befalls one of her characters.
And, of course, she went to an orgy, an organised event at a 'well-known' venue in Paris.
'I went to a sex party and jolly surprising it was, too! I went with a male friend because they only admit couples and it was not at all what I had expected.'
What did she expect?
'I thought it would smell of cheap wine and sweat, with people in PVC and dirty macs and all a bit ugh, but actually it was like being in the bar at Claridge's. It was very smart, the people were really good looking and it was a very gentle atmosphere, very clean.
'It was all about women, women's consent and women's pleasure. There were people there who obviously enjoyed just watching, so it was not as though I was obliged to join in.'
But did she?
'I think it is quite important to keep some things discreet, don't you? I don't want to say what happened.'
Like her heroine Judith, Hilton was born in Liverpool — later her schoolteacher parents moved to the nearby market town of Frodsham.
She admits that she wrote Maestra as a kind of 'revenge fiction', firstly for being bullied at school, where she was precociously clever and pretty, and later for being a shunned outsider when she first tried to establish herself in London.
After studying at Oxford, Hilton was offered an unpaid internship at Vogue magazine, but she needed to earn money to support herself and couldn't afford to take the placement.
'I knew nothing and I knew nobody. It is hard to say this without sounding chippy, but I think often people who have grown up with privilege and wealth don't realise how incredibly lucky they are.'
Lisa Hilton is 40 years old and at this stage in her life she exhibits not a single outward trace of her northern roots. She speaks in the kind of light, posh, breathy voice that annoys women and makes men lean in close to listen — but as we have established, she is used to being disliked by her own sex, which she puts down to a sororial jealousy of her sex appeal.
'Some things are a lot easier and some things are a lot harder, because on the whole women don't like you if you are attractive,' she says.
'Whatever you do, however nice or sweet you are, they will not like you. I can't help the way I look — and, look, I am not prancing about the place permanently in stilettos and fake tan. But, at the same time, has the way I look been a horror? No, I have had a jolly good time!'
Hilton has been married three times, picked up engagement rings the way other women collect crockery and is unabashed about being a married man's mistress in between having husbands and fiances of her own.
'Properly handled, infidelity can be a joyous thing,' she wrote back in 2003.
Husband number one was a 'gorgeous' Frenchman she met on her gap year when she was 19. She wore a denim bikini for their sunset wedding on a beach, but the marriage lasted for only three months. 'He was just an accident really. Could have happened to anyone,' she says.
Her second marriage was to a 33-year-old American advertising executive and lasted for two years.
She was 23 and newly graduated, ready for a big romance. The wedding was in Paris, the honeymoon in Venice and the couple lived in Milan — but not for long.
She became lonely, stuck at home cooking elaborate dinners for her husband, bored with the life of an executive wife.
'Sometimes if felt like everything about marriage, especially the sex, was just another domestic chore,' she wrote of their union.
She is now divorced from husband number three, Italian composer Nicola Moro whom she was with for 12 years. The couple remain close and have a ten-year-old daughter called Ottavia, who lives with her mother in a rented flat in Marylebone, Central London.
Between writing her six historical books, Hilton has worked as a teacher, appeared on television in France and did shifts on this newspaper's Diary for a year, where she remembered writing about Prince Charles using Weetabix to deter his garden slugs.
She was sitting at her desk at work, side saddle as usual, when she heard that Maestra had been bought in America for a $1 million advance. 'I threw up in the loo,' she recalls.
She has led what she describes as a 'pretty rackety' life, one that has been often shadowed by worries about money.
She has never owned a home, a car or a television — which suggests an entrenched aversion to commitment — and she despairs of British inhibitions about sex.
Even so, she comes over full modest milkmaid when I ask her how many men she has slept with. 'I'm not answering that,' she says, then reconsiders. 'More than ten. Let's go with that.'
She has been dating a handsome Danish venture capitalist called Morten Lund since last summer and often lunches with him and her ex-husband. 'It is very Scandinavian,' she says.
It is cheering to note that after her difficult and friendless childhood, it was her fine brain and university that was the making of Lisa Hilton.
Unexpectedly, she cries big, brimming tears when she talks about making a friend at last at Oxford — 'I was 18 and she is still my best friend today' — and her gang of galpals includes TV historians Kate Williams and Lucy Worsley.
After we finish our chat in our lovely suite at the Beaumont hotel, she is going downstairs to the Colony Grill to have lunch with Lady Antonia Fraser, another great friend and mentor.
'I believe in women being kind to each other,' she says, although this desirable state of affairs does not always transpire — on or off the page, in or out of bed.
Hilton the sexpert argues that in crime fiction terrible things happen to women's bodies, but it is still frowned upon to show a girl with a cheerful attitude to having unusual types of sex.
'You can flay a woman alive, but what you can't do is show a girl who is cheerful about being b*****ed. That is seen as filthy,' she says.
Then she puts her clothes back on and goes off to have veal chops with Antonia Fraser.
Glamour: Lisa Hilton and (above) with her friend the broadcaster Andrew Neil
'Is it true I slept with Earl Spencer? No, no, no!'
'Yes, I went to a sex party — it was like Claridge's'
'I don't prance about in stilettos all the time'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3499655/Other-women-hate-sexy-says-Oxford-historian-s-written-year-s-raciest-book-three-husbands-40.html#ixzz43MT7eNva
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