Joanna Marysia Harcourt-Smith was born on January 13, 1946 at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. Her mother, the immensely wealthy heiress Marysia (Ulam) Krauss Harcourt-Smith, was playing bridge there when she went into labor 10 weeks earlier. After 43 hours, she gave birth to Joanna, who weighed less than three pounds.
Joanna’s father, Cecil Harcourt-Smith, Commander of the Royal Navy, was not present as a child and died at the age of 10.
“Many times,” Ms. Harcourt-Smith wrote, “my mother told me I was wrong from the moment I was conceived, never specifying what mistake.”
Joanna attended a Catholic boarding school outside of Paris. (She was Jewish, but her mother, who had lost several parents during the Holocaust, forbade her to say so.) She was sexually abused by her mother’s driver; she told her mother about it, but she didn’t believe her and said, “It‘s hard to find a good driver.
As a young woman, Ms Harcourt-Smith immersed herself in drugs and promiscuity, including a stint with the Rolling Stones. At about the same time, Mr. Leary, the high priest of LSD, who was 26 years his senior, was urging people to “step up, tune in, and give up.”
A psychologist, he was fired in 1963 from Harvard, where undergraduates shared his stash of psychedelics, although these drugs were not illegal at the time. He also faced several outstanding indictments, most of them on minor drug charges, and was ultimately jailed.