by Amanda Foreman
Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire in 1774 and proceeded to become the undisputed queen of fashionable society, an influential hostess and an important figure in the Whig party.
Yet her story is one of cruel disappointments and personal suffering.
Adored as she was by the public at large, she was incapable of satisfying her husband, who preferred instead her best friend.
Adept at negotiating, fund-raising and socializing for the benefit of the Whigs, she could not manage her own extravagances, which brought insurmountable debts and ignominy, or her search for love, which brought pain and disgrace.
This is a penetrating, beautifully written account of one of the great figures of the late Eighteenth-Century, an icon in her own time and a fascinating foil for our own.
Cover painting of The Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) from the Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth; produced by permission of the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees
"Well written, extensively researched
and highly readable"
Stella Tillyard, Daily Mail
"Not only a pungent, intimate blend of biography and
history, but a provocative contribution to our understanding
of women of the past"
Jenny Uglow, Independent
"Georgiana Devonshire was much the most fascinating
woman of the age, and Foreman has written a biography to
Ian Gilmour, London Review of Books
"Sumptuously produced, accurate and eminently readable"
"Georgiana bursts from the pages of Amanda Foreman's
dazzling biography like the force of nature she undoubtedly
was passionate, political, addicted to gambling, and drunk
on life. This is a stunning book about an astonishing woman."
"A most impressive debut. I predict a great future
for Amanda Foreman. She is a scholar who matches her learning
to a sense of adventure and writes with engaging vitality."
"A mesmerizing read .... The charm of Amanda Foreman's
Georgiana is that it gives you all the fascinating detail
you want .... and is at the same time a serious, scholarly
work, based on exhaustive archival research."
Antonia Fraser, Literary Review
"Stunning historical research plus feminine acuity
yield a vivid portrait of a shrewd, seductive ancestor of
Princess Diana's in an age before democracy or contraception."
Brenda Maddox, author of Yeats "Ghosts and Nora" The Real Life of Molly Bloom
"I put this book down entranced by the woman. This
is an outstanding debut by a young biographer fully in control
of her sources, and with an easy, elegant writing style.
She tells a tale that calls not only for our admiration but
for our compassion."
Roy Strong, London Sunday Times
"This is an accomplished and well written biography,
remarkably mature for a first effort; diligently researched
and entertainingly presented. Amanda Foreman is a writer
to watch and one from whom much can be expected."
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