Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman.
The biographical account of Georgiana’s life is told with great knowledge, intimacy and beauty by Miss Amanda foreman and centers itself around both The Duchess’ personal, family and political lives. A delicate look at one of England’s most prestigious characters.
Georgiana lived during a period of rapid change. The population was sharply increasing, incomes were rising, roads were improving, and literacy was spreading. Britain was on the verge of becoming a great power.
Extract from the book 1757 – 1774: I know I was handsome . . . and have always been fashionable, but I do assure you,” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, wrote to her daughter at the end of her life, “our negligence and ommissions have been forgiven and we have been loved, more from our being free from airs than from any other circumstance.”* Lacking airs was only part of her charm. She had always fascinated people. According to the retired French diplomat Louis Dutens, who wrote a memoir of English society in the 1780s and 1790s, “When she appeared, every eye was turned towards her; when absent, she was the subject of universal conversation. Georgiana was not classically pretty, but she was tall, arresting, sexually attractive, and extremely stylish. Indeed, the newspapers dubbed her the Empress of Fashion.
Praise for the book: “Simply, seamlessly draws you into Georgiana’s world. There, you might find a surprising postmodern resonance.” —The Washington Post.
The Sylph by Georgiana Cavendish, The Duchess of Devonshire.
Published in 1778 The Sylph was Georgiana’s first attempt at a novel and was written at a time in her life when she felt the most vulnerable to her surroundings, was unhappy in her marriage and very much into the ‘party’ lifestyle.
Written in a series of letters, the story follows the misadventures of the young and beautiful Julia Stanley, a naïve country girl who marries the cruel and reckless Sir William, discovering too late that his only interests are fashion & gambling. Julia then try’s to keep his affection by learning how to talk, sing, dance, dress and think like a fashionable person. All the while coming to understand that the life she leads is beginning to corrupt her very soul, as well as the well being of those around her.
Feeling trapped by the world she inhabited, Georgiana chose to write about her situation anonymously. The result was the likes of a novel by ‘A Young Lady’, a tell-all-tale about high society and the Devonshire House Circle in particular. This great mystery as to the authors true identity increased the novels allure and sparked the fuse for speculation and at first people believed that popular novelist of the time, Fanny Burney was the author and Burney’s publisher tried to hint as much in order to increase his sales. However after some time, Georgiana’s friends began to recognized some of their more intimate details in the book, and the secret was finally put to rest, even though The Duchess did not fully confess to the claims.
Praise for the book: “The Sylph shocked readers because it portrayed the aristocracy as a collection of drunks, blackmailers, wife beaters and adulterers. But as scandalous as it was it remained a highly successful novel for its time, the shock and awe only adding to the suspense of its honesty.” – Amanda Foreman.