The life and times of Mary, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland : power play
- by Catherine Layton.
- Newcastle upon Tyne, UK : Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.
- Copyright notice
- Physical description
- xi, 415 pages, 20 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm
- Layton, Catherine, author.
- Includes bibliographical references (pages 349-391) and index.
This definitive biography depicts one Victorian woman's struggle to stay afloat in a rising tide of prurient scandalmongering and snobbery. Could it be that this woman's character and circumstances informed Oscar Wilde's social comedies? She was the daughter of a leading Conservative Oxford don, vilified as an arrogant fortune-hunter. Her liaison dangereuse with a Duke resulted in ostracism by Queen Victoria's cronies, as well as protracted, widely publicised legal disputes with his family. One battle put her in Holloway Gaol for six weeks. Her supporters, over time, included Disraeli, the Khedival family of Egypt, the de Lesseps, and Sir Albert Kaye Rollit (a promoter of women's suffrage, later her third husband). Her life and that of her family drew in British and European colonialism, and even Reilly, the "Ace of Spies". Various previously untapped letters, diaries and journals allow the reader to navigate through the sensationalist fog of the primarily Liberal press of her time. The book will appeal to anyone interested in Victorian and journalism history, and gender and celebrity studies.
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