Showing posts from April, 2008

The Harlot and the Statesman- The Love Story of Elizabeth Armistead and Charles James Fox

"You are ALL to me. You can always make me happy in circumstances apparently unpleasant and miserable... Indeed my dearest angel, the whole happiness of my life depends on you." Charles James Fox to the courtesan Elizabeth Armistead on 7 May 1785. Imagine you are a politician of some renown, in fact some consider you to be one of the greatest politicians ever in English history, you come from an aristocratic family descended from Charles II. Now imagine that you fall madly in love with a woman who has been the mistress of several titled gentlemen, so much in love that you do the unthinkable, and you secretly marry her. Sounds like historical romance doesn't it? Well, in this case the story is real. Charles James Fox, aristocratic man about town, Whig politician and one of the most brilliant and charismatic men of his day, and Elizabeth Armistead, is one of the greatest love stories of the eighteenth century, if not ever. In some ways, it was inevitable that Charles Jame

Delia Bacon, The Woman Who Hated Shakespeare

In England in 1854, a thin, sickly, middle-aged woman sits in a tiny room, night after night, writing feverishly, with very little light and no heat. She is on a mission, indeed she has spent the past several years working on a thesis that she hopes will shock the literary world. Instead when her book is published, it is dismissed by critics, and rejected by readers. This is the true story of a woman who lost her mind and her health trying to prove that Shakespeare was not the author of the 37 plays that bear his name. Her name was Delia Bacon. It somehow seems fitting to write about Delia Bacon on Shakespeare's birthday. After almost five hundred years, we still know little more about him then we did a hundred years ago. The mystery surrounding Shakespeare makes him ripe for those who believe, like Delia Bacon, that a man from a small town with very little education, could write the greatest plays known to man. From the beginning, it seemed as if Delia Bacon was surrounded by bad

Royal Mistresses: Jersey Lily and the Prince

'She is so pretty, she takes away a man's breath, she has no right to be intelligent, daring and independent as well as lovely.' George Bernard Shaw on Lillie Langtry Amazing what a little black dress can do. In one night, it catapulted Lillie Langtry from an unknown young woman trying desperately to break into London Society into one of the most well-known women in the Victorian era. Painters clamored to capture her likeness on canvas, people bought her photographs to display, and she captured the heart of not only the future King of England, but the grandfather of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Her name was Lillie Langtry. She was born Emilie Charlotte LeBreton on October 13, 1853 on the island of Jersey, part of the Channel Islands, where her father, the Very Reverand William Corbet Le Breton, a clergyman was dean and the rector of St. Saviours Parish Church. She inherited her looks from both her parents. Her father was over 6 feet tall, with a shock of white hair an

The Polls Are In!

Do you think that Di and Dodi were close to marriage at the time of their deaths? 92% of you said No way they only knew each other a short time 8% said Yes it was a whirlwind romance

The Wickedest Woman in New York - Madame Restell

This is part two of what I hope will be a continuing mini feature on the blog of Notorious New York Women, inspired in part by a lecture I attended at the New York Historical Society. New York has always been a place where people can reinvent themselves. It looms large in the imagination and has done almost from its beginnings as a trading post for the Dutch called New Amsterdam. The point of embarkation for most immigrants in the 19th century, for most of the early part of the 19th century, it was as unlawless as the Old West. Fortunes were made and lost in New York City. A humble peddler through shrewd real estate investments became the landlord of New York, Jacob Astor. Cornelius Vanderbilt, from humble origins ferrying citizens from Staten Island to New York, by the time of his death was one of the richest men in American, his statue welcoming patrons to his Grand Central Station. But what of the women who came to New York? What were their stories? Madame Restell was once known as

Notorious Women of New York - Typhoid Mary

This post is borne out of a lecture I attended at the New York Historical Society about Notorious New York women. Everyone has heard the name of Typhoid Mary but how many of us really know who she was or what she did? In the summer of 1906, in the tony resort town of Oyster Bay, Long Island (home to Theodore Roosevelt and part of what they call the Gold Coast on Long Island), the daughter of William Henry Warren, fell ill with typhoid at their rented summer home. Typhoid was a highly contagious communicable disease (Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort died from typhoid fever). During the 19th Century, thousands of people died from typhoid fever. In the year 1906 alone, 23,000 people died in the United States. Soon five more people in the Warren household fell ill with the fever, including Warren's wife. Experts were brought in to determine what caused the outbreak. Typhoid fever was usually found in the cities slums where sanitary conditions were primitive. Most tenements