My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan

Overview

A wicked turnabout on Jane Austen's oft-quoted adage ? "a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" ? is My Lady Scandalous, a richly raucous history that traverses the notoriously licentious British Regency era in the company of its most celebrated courtesan.

Following a simple Edinburgh girlhood, Grace Dalrymple came of age in the sin city of London, where wealthy men ruled society and women had everything to lose, starting with their reputations. ...

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Overview

A wicked turnabout on Jane Austen's oft-quoted adage — "a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" — is My Lady Scandalous, a richly raucous history that traverses the notoriously licentious British Regency era in the company of its most celebrated courtesan.

Following a simple Edinburgh girlhood, Grace Dalrymple came of age in the sin city of London, where wealthy men ruled society and women had everything to lose, starting with their reputations. As an impressionable bride of seventeen who married a man more than twice her age, Grace's remarkable beauty (likened by journalists to "a May morning") soon attracted the attentions of other men. A disastrous liaison with a consummate rake not only branded Grace as a demi-rep — a woman with half a reputation — but the scandal provoked Dr. John Eliot, her philandering husband, to pursue a divorce.

Grace became mistress of the most infamous peer in England, George James, Lord Cholmondeley, whose "secret perfections" were reputed to inspire "female enthusiasm." Cholmondeley commemorated the relationship by commissioning two works from eminent portraitist Thomas Gainsborough, first in 1778 and later in 1782, the same year Grace gave birth to a daughter, Georgiana (who may, in fact, have been the child of the Prince of Wales). Had Grace been an aristocrat, she and Cholmondeley might have had a future together, but it was not to be.

The tabloids broke the news: "Miss Dalrymple has embarked for France, and it is said parted with her noble gallant." Grace was soon to find a new protector in that nation's richest man, Philippe, Duc d'Orleans. Though Grace was ensconced as "one of the most brilliant and popular among the fashionable 'impures,' her liaison with the duke turned perilous when Orleans fell to the Revolution's guillotine, just as she narrowly escaped with her life.

"People die, but love may not," declares author Jo Manning of her subject's romantic and historic misadventures. A connoisseur of the times, Manning ably demonstrates — through contemporary newspapers, magazines, prints, and portraits as well as Grace's posthumously published journal — how life in George III's England and Marie Antoinette's France can seem strangely familiar, especially when history turns to affairs of the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wickedly good read about a lady no better than she should be. A storehouse of information as well as a witty commentary on the times, My Lady Scandalous is nonfiction that reads like the very best fiction."

— Edith Layton, author of Alas, My Love and The Return of the Earl

"What a delight! Jo Manning's My Lady Scandalous brings to life the scandals and excesses of the late Georgian period through the life of a strong, unconventional woman who was not only the mistress of royalty, but who barely survived the Reign of Terror. A feast for lovers of social history, My Lady Scandalous entertains as well as educates."

— Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author of Stolen Magic and A Kiss of Fate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451613544
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/15/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jo Manning is the author of two Regency romances, The Reluctant Guardian and Seducing Mr. Heywood (a Booklist Ten Best Romances of the Year selection), and The Sicilian Amulet, a contemporary romance. She was also the founder and director of the Reader's Digest General Books Library for over twenty years. Manning divides her time between London and Miami Beach. My Lady Scandalous is her first work of nonfiction.

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