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In Mary Anne Daphne du Maurier reconstructs as nearly as possible the life of her Great-great-grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke, who lived, for a year or two of splendour, 'under the protection' of H.R.H. the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief of the Army during the Napoleonic wars. From all the available evidence the writer introduces us to a cynical world, vibrant with vice, political intrigue, scurrilous pamphlets, and the sale of favours and promotions, whereby the royal mistress tried to augment her niggardly allowance. History might have applauded Mrs Clarke had she been satisfied with that supreme act of revenge on a faithless lover - the public investigation in the House of Commons into his conduct of the War Office. But the restless ambition of this gay and unscrupulous figure at length took her to prison for an indefensible libel. Here, as in The King's General, the author blends fact and fiction, and the clipped and nervous style in which she recounts the story is admirably suited to its content. First published by Gollancz in 1952, this collection of short stories enabled her devoted readership to see her, for the first time, in a very different guise as an exponent of the sinister and macabre.
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