One of the many incorrect facts about Grace Dalrymple Elliott is that of her monogram above the door of one of the houses on the Rue de Miromesnil in Paris. It’s widely known and accepted that she lived on this Paris street during the 1790s, and indeed she did. But at which house?
Rue de Miromesnil, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, is close to Parc Monceau where Grace’s lover Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc d’Orléans resided. The houses were built from 1778 onwards and building continued until 1826. The street was named in honour of the French Minister of Justice, Armand Thomas Hue de Miromesnil (1723-1796).
Accepted lore gives her address as no. 31 Rue de Miromesnil largely, we suspect, due to the initials over the door which have been read as G.E. It seems that this was presented as fact in a book in 1910 and has been repeated ad infinitum since. On closer inspection though, the initials are not G.E. but E.C.
Above is the text from Promenades dans Toutes les Rues de Paris par Arrondissements, VIIIe Arrondissement, 1910.
So, sadly, our belief is that Grace’s initials are not those above that particular doorway. We do have documentary evidence showing exactly what number Grace’s house on the Rue de Miromesnil actually was (and it wasn’t no. 31), all is revealed in An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott. We can say though that we believe that Grace had an apartment in the building, rather than the whole house to herself.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear if you agree with us that the initials read E.C. and not G.E.
Divorced wife, infamous mistress, prisoner during the French Revolution and the reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ child, notorious courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott lived an amazing life in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London and Paris. Strikingly tall and beautiful, later lampooned as ‘Dally the Tall’ in newspaper gossip columns, she left her Scottish roots and convent education behind, to re-invent herself in a ‘marriage a-la-mode’, but before she was even legally an adult she was cast off and forced to survive on just her beauty and wits. The authors of this engaging and, at times, scandalous book intersperse the story of Grace’s tumultuous life with anecdotes of her fascinating family, from those who knew Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and who helped to abolish slavery, to those who were, like Grace, mistresses of great men. Whilst this book is the most definitive biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliott ever written, it is much more than that; it is Grace’s family history which traces her ancestors from their origin in the Scottish borders, to their move south to London. It follows them to France, America, India, Africa and elsewhere, offering a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era, comprising the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life at that time. This is the remarkable and detailed story of Grace set, for the first time, in the context of her wider family and told more completely than ever before.