Chelsea ambulance drivers Elizabeth Heygate, left (1898-1966) and Fabienne Lafargue [d’Avilla](1901-1980) were photographed in 1940 in their London Auxiliary Ambulance Service uniforms on the eve of the publication of their collaborative novel Painted Toys. They went on to write at least three other novels together during the war, using the name Evylyn Fabyan.
Heygate was the captain of the first international women’s squash team to visit America. Lafargue was a writer and translator. In an undated note Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas praised her “astonishingly good” French translation of his sonnet and went on, “I feel better & have just had tea & one of Miss Toupie’s beautiful pears…”
“Miss Toupie” was Lafargue’s godmother May Lowther, an openly gay fencer, tennis player and motorcyclist known as “Brother” by Radclyffe Hall, and the possible inspiration for some of Hall’s stories. Lafargue and Toupie travelled across the Alps together on a motorbike. It is possible they were lovers – Toupie was said to refer to Lafargue as her wife.
The 1939 Register records Heygate (under her husband’s name Wolfe) and Lafargue living together at 233 Nell Gwynn House in Sloane Avenue.
Heygate married Gerald Bryans Wolfe, a captain in the Royal Field Artillery, in 1918; they had a son in 1919 and divorced in 1944. Lafargue was married first to Pedro Frederico Vaz de Carvalhaes and in 1945 to tennis player Jack Hillyard (they later divorced).