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The Duchess Countess

The Woman Who Scandalized Eighteenth Century London

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This “funny, intelligent, witty, profound” (Andrew Roberts, New York Times bestselling author) look at the stylish and scandalous Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston—a woman whose adventurous life led to an infamous bigamy trial that was bigger news in British society than the American War of Independence—provides a clear-eyed and fascinating look into the sumptuous Georgian Era.

As maid of honor to the Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Chudleigh enjoyed a luxurious life in the inner circle of the Hanoverian court. With her extraordinary style and engaging wit, she both delighted and scandalized the press and public. She would later even inspire William Thackery when he was writing his classic Vanity Fair, providing the inspiration for the alluring social climber Becky Sharp. But Elizabeth’s real story is more complex and surprising than anything out of fiction.

A clandestine, candlelit wedding to the young heir to an earldom, a second marriage to a duke, a lust for diamonds and an electrifying appearance at a masquerade ball in a gossamer dress—it’s no wonder that Elizabeth’s eventual trial was a sensation. Charged with bigamy, an accusation she vehemently fought against, Elizabeth refused to submit to public humiliation and retire quietly.

Perfect for fans of The Duchess and Women of Means, this long overdue and evocative biography reappraises Elizabeth’s remarkable story, and out of the past comes an incredibly modern woman who defied society’s expectations of her.

Catherine Ostler is an author and journalist who has been editor-in-chief of Tatler, the Evening Standard magazine, and Editor of The Times Weekend. She has also written for a wide range of publications, including Vogue, Daily Mail (London), and Newsweek. She read English at Oxford University, specialising in eighteenth-century literature.