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Showing posts from October, 2007

All for Love - The Life of Jane Digby

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"Being loved is to me as the air that I breathe," Jane Digby writing to King Ludwig of Bavaria. Jane Digby in her day was called "one of the most remarkable women of the 19th century.' She survived the scandal of divorce, was the mistress to Kings before finally finding love in the deserts of the Middle East. In her lifetime, no fewer than 8 novels including one written by Honore de Balzac were written featuring Jane as a thinly disguised character, most of them not flattering portraits. She inspired envy and jealously in other women because of her beauty and the attention paid to her by men. In an age when women didn't travel, had very few rights, and were basically the property of their husbands, Jane forged a passionate destiny of her own, throwing over her proper life in England, for the life of a passionate nomad, searching for that one perfect love. Jane Elizabeth Digby was born on April 3, 1807 in Dorset at Minterne Magna, the daughter of Admiral Henry

The King's Whore: Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland

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Restoration England is one of my favorite periods of English history, so many fascinating personalities, among them the Merry Monarch himself, Samuel Pepys, the Earl of Rochester, Aphra Behn, and one of the most intriguing of all, Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, Duchess of Cleveland. One of the most famous royal mistresses in history, she was considered one of the most audacious and shocking. In her day, she was a household name, written about in numerous diary entries, painted by some of the most celebrated painters of her era. She was described by Bishop Burnet as "a woman of great beauty, but more enormously vicious and ravenous, foolish but imperious." Charles himself claimed that "she hath all the tricks of Ariten that are to be practised to give pleasure." She also had her detractors, among them John Evelyn who called her "a vulgar mannered, arrogant slut." And Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon (a title that was eventually given to a member of

Lola Montez - Uncrowned Queen of Bavaria

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October 1846 saw Lola heading for Bavaria, eager to put the past behind her and to earn some much needed money. Although Dujarier had left her 20,000 pounds, Lola had a lavish lifestyle. It was in Bavaria that Lola would achieve her greatest triumphs and tragedies, and pass into history as a legend. After auditioning for the State Theatre, Lola was told her dancing might cause moral offence by the theater's manager. He'd heard rumors of her scandalous performances elsewhere. Determined to defend her reputation, and probably banking on Ludwig being taken by her allure, Lola stormed the palace unannounced to plead with the King Ludwig of Bavaria himself for help. There is a legend that Lola cut the strings of her bodice with a letter opener when the King asked her if her bosoms were real. No matter what really happened, Lola got her wish. The King agreed to let her dance and, ironically, Lola made her debut in a play called The Enchanted Prince. At the time that they met, Lola

Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets - The racy life of Lola Montez

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'Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there She would merengue and do the cha-cha But while she tried to be a star ," Copacabana by Barry Manilow. 'She is fatal to any man who dares to love her,' Alexandre Dumas, pere. "I have known all the world has to give -- ALL!" Lola Montez shortly before her death in 1861. She is considered one of the first tabloid celebrities, the 19th Century's answer to Madonna. Her lovers included Franz Liszt and the King of Bavaria. She was an actress, a writer, a lecturer, and the most famous Spanish dancer in the world who couldn't actually dance. Later in her life, she was able to charge more for her lectures than Charles Dickens. Her name? Lola Montez. In her lifetime, she claimed to be the illegimate daughter of Byron, the daughter of Carlists from Spain, the daughter of a Spanish grandee stolen by gypsies, and many others, but the reality was far

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know - The Life of Lady Caroline Lamb

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Allegedly that was Lady Caroline Lamb's response on her first sight of George Gordon, Lord Byron, but the same sentiment could be applied to her. In an age that favored form and decorum, no matter what you did behind closed doors, Lady Caroline Lamb scandalized society with her reckless behavior and flouting of convention. She was born Caroline Ponsonby on the 13th of November in 1785, which makes her a Scorpio. She was the only daughter of Lord Duncannon, the future Earl of Bessborough and Lady Henrietta Ponsonby, the sister of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (more on her in another post). Like her mother, Caro was delicate in health as a child. From the age of 9, she lived at Devonshire House, along with her cousins Lord Hartington, his sisters Lady Georgiana and Lady Harriet, and Lady Elizabeth Forster's two children by the Duke, one of which was also named Caroline. A born drama queen, Caroline made up fanciful tales about her childhood, including the tidbit that s

Lady Hester Stanhope, Queen of the Desert

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Born in the age of Revolution, Lady Hester Stanhope (1776-1839) , is remembered today as a passionate and intrepid traveller in an age when women were discouraged from being adventurous. The life of Lady Hester had its ups and downs, some would say probably more downs than ups. She was the granddaughter of William Pitt the elder, and the eldest daughter of Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope. Her father and mother were that rare thing in the 18th century, a love match. Her mother, also named Hester, gave birth to 3 daughters of which Hester was the eldest, in four years, and promptly expired in childbirth with the last. The Earl was devastated by her death, but promptly remarried six months later. Hester's stepmother obliged the Earl by giving birth to 3 sons, the heir, the spare, and a little something extra, before abandoning her children to governesses at Chevening, the family estate, to take her place back in society in London. Hester's younger sister Lucy was later t

Scandalous Lovers: Abelard and Heloise

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"With our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love. Her studies allowed us to withdraw in private, as love desired, with our books open before us more words of love than of our reading passed between us, and more kissing than teaching. My hands strayed more often over the curves of her body than to the pages; love drew our eyes to look on each other more than reading kept them on our texts." Peter Abelard "Abaelardus and Heloïse surprised by Master Fulbert", by Romanticist painter Jean Vignaud (1819) It was the sex scandal of the 12th Century. Imagine the headlines if this were to happen today: Handsome cleric scores with hot pupil. It touches all our hot buttons about the teacher/student relationship. After it was all over, he said it was just sex, while she believed it was true love. Sound familiar? It is the story of Abelard and Heloise. What is it about this almost nine hundred year old love story that still captures our imaginatio