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In 1921 the Hon Mrs Christobel Russell, a famously spirited society beauty and the wife of the heir to Lord Ampthill, became pregnant while still a virgin, and gave birth to a son. Her virtue being challenged, she was medically examined by doctors and declared to be virgo intacta, despite her marriage. The resultant court case, in which the husband tried to repudiate paternity and sued for divorce, was eventually won by the lady. Meanwhile the entire nation had gorged for months on salacious speculations and sexual detail from the newspapers and the lawyers, all discussing the question of how she could have become pregnant. Queues of those seeking entry to the courts formed the length of the Strand, bets were laid, and King George V outraged. The private family photographs, letters and documents made available by the present Lord Ampthill to Bevis Hillier have enabled this distinguished and witty biographer to rekindle a never-forgotten scandal. The book includes accounts of contemporary court procedures, a comprehensive social survey of the temper of the age with regard to sex and marriage, and above all an historic phenomenon: the portrait of a woman who fascinated her generation.
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