After passing out of high school, Stephen Ward shifted to London to work as a carpet salesman, and later moved to Hamburg, Germany, to work as a translator at ‘Shell Oil’.
Around 1931, he moved to Paris and worked as a tour guide while studying a course at ‘the Sorbonne.’
In 1932, he shifted to Torquay, England, and then worked as a tea salesman in London.
In 1934, he went to study osteopathy at Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery in Missouri, USA. He started practicing osteopathy in Torquay after returning to England.
In 1939, after the start of the Second World War, he signed up for the ‘Royal Army Medical Corps’ (RAMC), but non-recognition of his American qualifications got him rejected.
In 1941, Stephen Ward was drafted in the ‘Royal Armoured Corps’ at Bovington as a ‘private’. He was exempted from general duties and became a ‘stretcher-bearer’ instead.
In 1943, he became a second lieutenant in RAMC’s non-medical section.
In 1944, he was posted in India and continued to practice osteopathy there.
In 1945, Stephen Ward returned to England after a brief stint in the psychiatric hospital due to a nervous breakdown. Then, he worked at the ‘Osteopathic Association Clinic’ in London, where he met many renowned public figures.
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Soon, he set up a private practice in London with the aid of his wealthy acquaintances.
Through the late 1940s and early 50s, charmed by his sophisticated personality, the world’s who’s-who became his clients. Simultaneously, his social circle expanded to foreign diplomats, politicians, film stars, and a steady stream of beautiful women, which caught the attention of ‘MI6’.
In 1956, Stephen Ward made the acquaintance of Lord Astor, who helped him gain access to London’s high society and allowed the use of his Cliveden cottage. In return, he introduced Astor to nightlife and girls.
By 1960, he had learnt artwork at the ‘Slade School’ and begun to generate a side income sketching portraits of national and global icons, including those of the British royal family.
Upon expressing his desire to sketch Soviet leaders, Sir Colin Coote of the ‘Daily Telegraph’, introduced him to Yevgeny (or Eugene) Ivanov, who was known to ‘MI5’ as a Russian intelligence officer, and the pair quickly became friends. ‘MI5’ approached Ward to help get Ivanov to defect.
In 1959, Stephen Ward met a 17-year-old showgirl, Christine Keeler, from a cabaret club in London.
In July 1961, at a party, he introduced Keeler to the ‘Secretary of State for War’, John Profumo, and the two had a brief love affair. But Ward had also introduced her to Ivanov, giving rise to a complicated love triangle, which marred ‘Mi5’s’ prospective honeytrap plan for Ivanov.
In 1962, he was again used by the ‘British Foreign Office’ as an unofficial diplomat to the Soviet Union during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’.
In 1963, Keeler revealed the affair to the press, causing Profumo’s resignation and Ward’s arrest and trial. Abandonment by his famous friends ultimately led to his death before the declaration of guilty verdict on immorality earnings counts. ‘The Profumo Affair’ affected the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s health leading to his resignation too.
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In 1964, the ruling Conservative party lost the general elections due to the revelations of widespread sex scandals within the government.
Family & Personal Life
From 1949-52, Stephen Ward was married to the actress Patricia Mary Baines. But his perverse habit of watching sexual activity instead of participating in it may have contributed to the demise of his marriage.
In 1959, after meeting showgirl Christine Keeler, they became platonic roommates. They were soon joined by another showgirl-model, Mandy Rice-Davies.
On August 3, 1963, Stephen Ward died from barbiturate poisoning after a suicide attempt in London. But some theories suggest that he was murdered by an ‘MI6’ agent.
A private memorial service was held at ‘St. Stephen’s Hospital’, and he was cremated at ‘Mortlake Crematorium’.
The famous author-explorer, Wilfred Thesiger, was his cousin.
During his posting in India, he is said to have treated Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1989, Stephen Ward’s role in the ‘MI5’ honeytrap operation was revealed in the book ‘Honeytrap’.
In 1989, he was featured as one of the prominent characters in the movie ‘Scandal’.
From 2013-14, he was the subject of a ‘West End’ musical, ‘Stephen Ward the Musical’.
In 2017, he was portrayed as a character in the ‘Netflix’ series, ‘The Crown’.