Charlotte Wahl Johnson – a class act

Charlotte Johnson Wahl, a gifted painter and mother of Boris Johnson, has died aged 79.  She is described as the moral authority in the family, warm and intelligent with a radical outlook and came from a distinguished family of ‘rich socialists.’ Her father was a legal academic who helped to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was president of the European Commission of Human Rights. Her maternal grandfather was an expert in Latin manuscripts and her maternal grandmother was the official translator of the works of Thomas Mann.

  When at Oxford she met Stanley Johnson who whisked her off to New York where Boris was born, followed by three other siblings. As the marriage disintegrated she showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder and spent nine months in a psychiatric hospital. At 40 she developed Parkinson’s which she managed throughout the rest of her life.

  She was born 29 May 1942 and was a Sun, Saturn, Uranus in Gemini so had an edgy temperament veering between low-self-esteem from Saturn to rebellion from Uranus. She also had Jupiter Mercury in Gemini which would help restore her optimism at times. She shared an intense Scorpio Moon with Boris and also has his signature Jupiter Neptune aspect, in her case a square from Jupiter in Gemini to Neptune in Virgo – with an artistic, imaginative temperament it would be an asset.  

  Why she married Stanley Johnson is a mystery since it was a chalk-and-cheese affair. He has an obstinate and dominating Sun Mars in Leo square Uranus, as well as Mercury Pluto in Leo and Jupiter Saturn in Taurus. He insisted and went his own way and she had to adapt. Their relationship chart had a one-sided, over controlling composite Mars Pluto which is never good news.

  She was also an edgy fit with Boris having her Sun, Saturn, Uranus sitting on his afflicted Mars and keying up his Mutable T Square of Saturn, Uranus, Pluto. Her Mars fell in Boris’s 10th so she would stoke up his ambitions and competitive nature. Both his parents had their Pluto in his 10th so they would be experienced as controlling his choices. But his mother’s Jupiter Mercury were conjunct his Sun Venus which would promote good feelings between them.

  Their relationship chart is complicated, indicating some of the strain caused by her disappearance with mental problems, though it is also exceptionally tied together. There’s an anxious composite Saturn opposition Neptune formed into a Half Grand Sextile by Pluto and Mars; and a possessive and affectionate composite Venus square Pluto.  

  Two things are striking about Boris’s background – one is the multi-culturalism. His mother was brought up Roman Catholic as was Boris, despite her maternal grandparents being American Jewish. Boris’s paternal great-grandfather was Turkish. A real pot pourri of cultures and belief systems. The other is the largely left-leaning inclinations of both his parents and maternal grandfather.

12 thoughts on “Charlotte Wahl Johnson – a class act

  1. It’s possible that Charlotte has a yod on Venus in Aries, with Moon in Scorpio and Neptune in Virgo, which wouldn’t surprise me, given her artistic talents. I know from experience that families who value academic achievement, (she had studied for an English degree) artistic talent is sometimes looked down on and higher education in Art seen as an easy option. So I wonder if her Sun Saturn in Gemini reflects the struggle to be taken seriously intelligence-wise in the confines of her accomplished family background. Just my penny worth, but a Scorpio Moon can lean to obsessiveness I feel.

    Marriage to Stanley was immensely stressful and the disintegration of his parent’s marriage had a deep impact on the young Boris, so just why he has gone on to repeat his father’s pattern of infidelity is perplexing. According to Tom Bower’s biography Stanley’s behaviour which included an affair with the children’s Au Pair, long absences from the family home where the children were left to care for themselves led to Boris’s mistrust of men in general and that the young Boris grew up unable to forge close relationships with men, hence his prolific love life and closer relationships with women than with men.

    • ‘…. so just why he has gone on to repeat his father’s pattern of infidelity is perplexing. ‘

      Hi VF, my take is that from a psychological perspective Boris is subconsciously repeating a behavior he learnt through example. Through his father’s actions (the first prominent male figure in his life) he learnt that is what men do. I don’t think he is consciously deciding to repeat the pattern. It would take a lot of therapy work to break that subconscious pattern, much more than just telling himself he is not going to go down that road. Hope that makes sense. Is Boris a therapy kinda a guy?

      • Boris in therapy is not something I can picture, Jennifer but who knows?

        But yes, Tom Bower says in his biography that Boris learned to hide his vulnerability behind an exterior of comic bravado – which is not unusual for a Scorpio Moon – in an attempt to imitate his father’s blustering bonhomie and as a way of coping with his parents’ marriage breakdown. Once at Eton, this whole act served him well and he has been using it ever since.

      • You’re right about much that goes on within Boris being unconscious. He does have that emphasised Mars of his in the 8th which is very deeply buried and difficult to access. Although he’s scattergun and constantly going off in all directions and reinventing myself, he probably is highly resistant to change at an underlying level. And Gemini from my experience though quick-witted and a thinker/communicator isn’t always great at being emotionally insightful about themselves.

  2. According to the Times obituary Stanley Johnson said their relationship would be over if she did not accompany him when he was offered a fellowship to study for a year in the US. They were married at registry office and she dropped out of her course to follow him. She was heavily pregnant when they took a Greyhound bus to Mexico and an acquaintance was so appalled at her travelling in such a condition he paid first class air tickets for them.
    She came from a family of high achievers and evidently was made to feel the dimmest of the lot so her self-esteem wouldn’t be good and Stanley, she told a biographer, said she deserved the treatment she got from him. That’s her Sun Saturn.
    Stanley sounds a real charmer.

  3. Marriages at 22 were the norm back then, if not expected or earlier. Women were constantly bombarded with the “when are you getting married”, “your clock’s ticking”, “on the shelf” and “when are you giving us grandchildren” messages. Plus getting married was usually the way to leave home and get your own.

    Stanley’s Leo Sun/Mars is trine her Aries Venus and would have been getting hit by transiting Uranus over 1962. During that period, transiting Uranus-Pluto in Virgo were then hitting her North Node and square her Gemini planets. Many people see getting married as a solution to their inner problems. Or relationship difficulties.

    Transits would be more illuminating with a time of birth. Depending on the moon’s degree there may be a yod there with the Aries Venus and Gemini Mercury-Jupiter.

    See now why Boris is attracted to strong women like Marina and Carrie who push him.

    • Yes, Helen, GD and Delia – many women did marry as teenagers or very early twenties. There were later marriages though, even in the 19th century. I was amazed to see in my own family history a lot of later marriages of women in their late twenties or early thirties, going back to the 18th century. They still managed to have quite a lot of children too. For Charlotte, it seems she was acting out that Uranus transit, and the one to her nodes. Boris, it seems, then embodied those unsettling transits for her. Interesting that the cabinet reshuffle has taken place in the immediate aftermath of her death.

      • Hi Jane – I thought the timing of the cabinet reshuffle was interesting too. Could be a grief avoider.

        Benefit of the doubt, I assume he has been planning it for a while. The summer break for Parliament is over and the party conference is usually at the end of Sept I believe. You’d want your new cabinet to speak at that with their plans I assume (not a follower of these things).

        Generally speaking it feels like Boris wants to say “we’re over the pandemic” and start afresh. This week’s messages have been about setting out his winter covid plan, no more lockdowns, repealing Covid laws. I assume he always stuck with people like Williamson, Raab (and would have stuck with Hancock) during the pandemic because it was good to have someone to blame for all the mistakes.

        • Hi GD – yes you’re right about the conference, it begins on 3rd October. I still think the reshuffle could have been delayed by a week perhaps, but grief does strange things to us all and I’ve noticed some people get very “energised” and need to do things or make changes straight away. Sometimes those actions are regretted later on I have noticed! Boris was so close to his mother, and she was such an interesting and unusual woman – from what I have read, anyway.

          Curiously, the Tory Party Conference begins on a Mercury retrograde in legal Libra, with Mercury square Pluto. Mars in Libra is conjunct the Sun opposing Chiron. Venus is sextile Pluto and opposite Jupiter. It doesn’t look like a particularly peaceful event. The Mercury retro with Pluto might be all about the transport supply chain crisis. Oh, and Michael Gove tasked with “saving Christmas”……I have no words for this.

  4. Fascinating post. Boris was also a Member of the Liberal Party at Oxford. He certainly would suit that Party rather than the Conservatives. Yet with an 8th house Jupiter in Taurus, he would always put money and power first. Charlotte’s 8th Uranus/Sun midpoint on her Saturn would depict some who had sudden unions/marriages. Perhaps with Stanley she went along with the flow – more infatuation yet Saturn would mean instead of living together, doing one’s duty. Especially as she was Roman Catholic. The other interesting midpoint is her Mar sitting on her Venus/Neptune midpoint. Again Charlotte appeared to allow the male to dominate her free loving spirit and artistic creations. Perhaps had she be born 30 year later, she may have never married?

  5. Thanks Marjorie. Charlotte was so young when she married and started her family. But I suppose that was more usual back then. I wonder if the Jupiter/Neptune theme might also hint at the multi-cultural family background inherited from both his parents? Boris’ Uranus/Pluto connecting with his mother’s NN in Virgo is interesting, and makes me wonder what he carries from this link with his mother’s own life lessons? I wonder what she thought about her son’s stance on Brexit, or indeed his whole career path?

    Boris’ younger brother, Leo, married an Afghan-born Muslim woman, Taies Nezam, which resonates with this family history. Their paternal surname was changed from Kamal to Johnson in the early 20th century. The Johnson siblings are also descended (illegitimately) from the Hanoverian German King George II of England, through their paternal grandmother. Boris discovered this thanks to the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. It means he’s not only distantly related to the Royal Family, but also to David Cameron… there any escape from our history?

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