The Scandalous Life of an 18th Century Duchess
The fascinating and entertaining story of the eighteenth-century beauty and bigamist, Elizabeth Chudleigh
Elizabeth Chudleigh was one of the eighteenth century's most colourful characters. Born into impoverished gentility, her beauty, wit and vitality soon earned her a place at the centre of court life. When she married the Duke of Kingston in 1769 she had reached the highest rung of the social ladder. But Elizabeth was carrying a dark secret. In 1744 she had secretly married a naval lieutenant called Augustus Hervey, and after the Duke's death her first marriage was discovered. Bigamy fever swept London society and, in a very public trial, Elizabeth was found guilty. But her strength of character ensured that, even when her friends deserted her, her courage and zest for life did not. In an engaging history of this strong and wilful woman, Gervat shows there was far more to Elizabeth than the caricature villain her contemporaries made her out to be.
“"Gervat's lively account provides a sympathetic portrait of the duchesss and is illuminating about the period.”
Sunday Times Culture
“Gervat delivers a racy, enjoyable tale in an effervescent and readable style. Filled with juicy details and new archival research from Britain and the former Soviet Union, this is truly colourful entertainment Sunday Times”
“Gervat's research is immaculate and she shapes her story around a sympathetic grasp of the difficulties faced by the upper-class woman negotiating the rocky waters between love, the law, and public honour. Elizabeth is more than anything, however, a study of snobbery and self-deception, and it is this that makes it such a grippingly good read”
“Gervat writes with sympathy and much good sense, backed up by sound scholarship, about a real-life woman in the round”