“My Life has been so much more than a fairytale” – the story of Audrey Hepburn, by Mary A. Moloney


She was the epitome of elegance, style, and grace. Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born at 48 Rue Keyenveld Brussels, on May 4, 1929, to Dutch Baroness Ella van Heemstra and British banker Joseph Ruston. He left the family when Audrey was six years old. Ella returned to her family home in Arnhem, while Audrey attended boarding school in Kent from 1936 to 1939.

With the outbreak of World War II, Ella brought Audrey home to Arnhem, in the mistaken belief that Hitler would never invade neutral Holland. However, on May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Holland.

To protect her daughter (a British citizen), her mother enrolled Audrey as Edda van Heemstra in the local school, where she spoke Dutch for eight years. Audrey’s family endured much hardship during the German occupation. She witnessed the execution of her uncle and cousins by the Nazis.

Her stepbrother, Alex, spent some time in a Labour Camp, though he later escaped, while Ian van Ufford fought in the Dutch Resistance.

Ella enrolled her daughter at the Arnhem Conservatory to keep some semblance of normality. “Once I started, all I wanted was to be a ballerina,” said Audrey later.

Audrey performed ballet to raise money to support the Dutch resistance, acted as a courier for them and volunteered as a nurse in the local hospital tending to Allied soldiers.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own