Juicy Eighteenth Century Biographies

Gossip about the rich and famous was just as popular in the 18th century as it is now. The library has a great collection of biographies and movies about this period and the fascinating people who lived in it. In Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832 author Stella Tillyard carefully documents the lives of four sisters via the thousands of letters they left to posterity. Descended from royalty, one sister almost became queen when she attracted the love of then Prince of Wales, while three sisters defied convention and married for love. You’ll be impressed by how modern excerpts of their letters sound! There is also a BBC miniseries based on the books.

In The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce covers the divorce trial of Lady Worsley, who ruined her husband’s reputation as well as her own by exposing the scandalous details of her married life to the public.

You’ve probably heard about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a contemporary of the Lennox sisters and ancestor of the late Princess Diana and whose biography sparked the 2008 film The Duchess. But did you know that she had a sister? Harriet Spencer lived just as glamorous and scandalous a life as her more famous sibling, having affairs and even kissing voters on the campaign trail to help her favorite Whig candidates win elections!

Even kings and queens had shocking secrets that they would have liked to have kept hidden. A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings discusses the lives of the British monarch’s younger siblings, including Prince William who married secretly for love, and Princess Caroline, who married the mad Danish King Christian and ruled Denmark for a time with her lover, a German physician. Her story has been fictionalized in both the 2012 film A Royal Affair and the 2001 book The Royal Physician’s Visit.

Not even the king's children were free from controversy. In Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III author Flora Fraser recounts the lives of the king's beloved daughters who were kept hidden away during the American Revolution and the the turbulent years of the king's madness in the 1780s.