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His brother Peter had started a year before and was already earning a reputation for academic brilliance.In contrast, Ian was not a gifted scholar but excelled at athletics for which he was twice awarded victor ludorum (champion of the games).She decided to send him to Kitzbühel in Austria to improve his languages before sitting examinations for the Foreign Office.Ian was sent to the Villa Tennerhof, which was run by Ernan Forbes Dennis and his wife, the celebrated author Phyllis Bottome who had a profound influence on Ian by encouraging him to use his imagination to write fiction.Whilst in Moscow, Ian took the opportunity to write to Stalin to try and secure an interview.His request was unsuccessful but his efforts were rewarded with a signed letter of refusal.
After living up to his reputation as the black sheep of the family, Ian’s mother Evelyn was at a loss to know what to do with her wayward son.
News of the tragedy reached the family mere days before Ian’s ninth birthday.
Valentine’s good friend Winston Churchill wrote his obituary in , ‘He was most earnest and sincere in his desire to make things better for the great body of the people’.
Ian had an elder brother Peter, and two younger brothers, Richard and Michael.
Ian and Peter were enrolled at Durnford Preparatory School in Dorset which was overseen by eccentric headmaster, Tom Pellat, who encouraged the boys to nurture their individuality.
He was immensely attractive and had enormous charm.