Sex, intrigue and adultery in the world of high politics and huge wealth in late eighteenth-century England.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire was one of the most flamboyant and influential women of the eighteenth century. The great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, she was variously a compulsive gambler, a political savante and operator of the highest order, a drug addict, an adulteress and the darling of the common people.
This authoritative, utterly absorbing book presents a mesmerizing picture of a fascinating world of political and sexual intrigues, grand houses, huge parties, glamour and great wealth – always on the edge of being squandered by the excesses and scandals of individuals.
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Georgiana Spencer was, in a sense, an 18th-century "It Girl". She came from one of England's richest and most landed families, and married into another. She was, beautiful, sensitive, and extravagant. Acquainted fairly young with Charles James Fox, her move from parties to Parties led her to become the intimate of ministers and princes, and she canvassed assiduously for the Whig cause, most famously in the Westminster election of 1784. By turns she was caricatured and fawned on by the press, and she provided the inspiration for Lady Teazle in Sheridan's School For Scandal. But, luckily for her biographer, she also had weaknesses that were to taint her life.
As gin gripped the masses, so gambling thralled the aristocracy. By 1784 Georgiana owed "many, many, many thousands", and the creditors she acquired dogged her until her death, but the sterility of her marriage meant that she never came close to disclosing the magnitude of her debts. Amanda Foreman describes astutely the mess that was personal relationships for the aristocratic subculture (Georgiana and the Duke engaged for many years in a ménage à trois with Lady Elizabeth Fraser, who inveigled her way into his bed and her heart). She is, by her own admission, a little in love with her subject, which can lead to occasional lapses of perspective, but generally it adds zest to a narrative built on, rather than burdened by, scholarship, that is at once accessible and learned. An impressive debut, in every sense. --David VincentReview:
Andrew Roberts, bestselling author of Eminent Churchillians, has given this advance praise in a letter to the author:
‘A super book which will become a bestseller and will make your name as a serious biographer and author’
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002556685
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002556685