When Elizabeth Chudleigh married the Duke of Kingston in 1769 it was the happiest and proudest moment of her life. She had put her childhood of impoverished gentility firmly behind her and reached the highest point of the social ladder. But her joy was short lived, and within a few years she would be standing in the dock in the House of Lords, charged with bigamy and facing the prospect of living out her days in exile on the continent. Yet she was much more than the caricature villain her contemporaries made her out to be. In 1743 she had been appointed maid of honour to Augusta, Princess of Wales. Taking to court life like a duck to water, her beauty, wit, vitality and generosity soon ensured her a crowd of passionate admirers, and one year later she secretly married Augustus Hervey, a naval lieutenant, shortly before he left for two years in the West Indies. Elizabeth carried on as 'Miss Chudleigh', the life and soul of court life and London society. When her marriage proved a failure, she began an affair and fell in love with the Duke of Kingston. Eventually Elizabeth denied in the ecclesiastical courts that she was married to Hervey and wed the Duke by special licence.
After the Duke's death, a witness to her marriage with Hervey was discovered. Bigamy fever swept London society and, in a very public trial, Elizabeth was found guilty of the crime. But her strength of character ensured that, even when her friends deserted her, her courage and zest for life did not. Elizabeth left Britain for Europe where, true to form, she continued her adventures, charmed Catherine the Great, and lived in outrageous luxury. This is an engagingly written history of a strong, beautiful and wilful woman. Entertaining and absorbing, Elizabeth is a vivid biography of one of the eighteenth century's most colourful female characters.
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 555 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 30 mm