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An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott

Mrs Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Thomas Gainsborough (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Mrs Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Thomas Gainsborough (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

This is a little bit different for us today as we have some wonderful news that we wanted to share.  We are delighted to let you know that we have signed a contract with Pen and Sword and in January 2016  they will be publishing our book:

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott.  

Although we now have a deadline we’re working towards rest assured we still intend to keep up our blog articles about the Georgian era in the meantime. 

We have so much new information about Grace and her family to share in our book and we will keep you updated with our progress.  She’s a truly fascinating woman and we can promise you that it will be a very different biography of her than anything that has gone before.  For those who have never heard of Grace we thought it might be of interest to give you a little background about her. 

Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s name was well known in her lifetime; an ‘infamous mistress’ indeed, she became a fixture in the gossip columns, lampooned as ‘Dally the Tall’ due to her height.  She was also beautiful and, after a scandalous divorce from the portly little doctor she had married when barely out of childhood, she became the amour of titled and influential men, amongst them Prinny, the Prince of Wales and the future King George IV (reputed father of her child) and the unfortunate Phillipe, Duc d’Orléans who lost his head during the French Revolution.  

George IV when Prince of Wales by Richard Cosway, watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782
George IV when Prince of Wales by Richard Cosway, watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782; National Portrait Gallery

Grace penned a journal, outlining her own experiences as a prisoner during the French Revolution, living in the shadow of the dreaded guillotine and this, whilst containing many inaccuracies, is one of the few surviving first-hand accounts left of this time by a woman.  After this, and once the years had started to catch up with Grace, her glamorous heyday had passed and she had to survive as best she could, reliant on her wits, family and the charity of friends including  her close friend, who also suffered  the scandal of divorce, Lady Worsley.  But survive she did because one of Grace’s most admirable traits was her strength; at a time when women were expected to be meek and subservient she broke the rules, lived on her own terms and did so with an admirable degree of aplomb. 

If you want to be kept up to date with news on the progress of our book then please do subscribe to our blog.

Shady retreats for summer, or, The tip of the ton!!

Hideous Hats?

bonnet
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

We’ve done the dresses, the cosmetics and the beauty tips, so how could we possibly not have one about those amazing Georgian hats that would put Royal Ascot to shame.  Large hats were very much in fashion and there were some truly stunning hats. However, we couldn’t resist a  ‘tongue in cheek’ look at the fashionable hats of the period.  Large hats often accompanied by large hair were very much in vogue and provided the most amazing ‘fodder’ for the caricaturists of the day too who took great delight in mocking both the British and French styles.

In one of our previous blogs we presented to the world a ‘never before seen hat’ sported by our one and only fashion diva, the beautiful  Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s hat, which the majority of our readers agreed overwhelmingly was to put it politely, ‘dreadful’, with that mind we thought we should find some more equally hideous hats for your delectation.

 Grace’s hat

The hats appear in no particular order, but we are sure you will have you own preferences!

After Grace we have another fashion diva and close friend of Grace Dalrymple Elliott  –  Gertrude Mahon, sporting something akin to a giant tea cosy or one of those hairdryers that were fashionable in the 1950’s,  in a fabric which hopefully is far lighter than it appears, otherwise it would have carried a health warning!

Gertrude Mahon, the Bird of Paradise, 1781.
Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Libray.

1950s hairdryer
1950s version!

The next really should carry a health warning especially if you have a feather allergy; are the three feathers those of the Prince of Wales one wonders?

large hat
Magasin des Modes, November 1787

When it gets too hot in the middle of the Summer we offer an alternative way of keeping cool, is it a bird, plane or simply a superhat?

Shady retreats for summer, or, The tip of the ton!!
Shady retreats for summer, or, The tip of the ton!! Lewis Walpole Library

…and an alternative hat for summer showers, complete with the ‘fake bum‘ for the children to shelter under.

1971.564.190
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

A lodging house lady of Bath
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

A lodging house lady of Bath, the hat is almost the same size as she is!

Hat Boxes
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Hat Boxes – words fail us with this one

scary hat
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The hat on the right looks lethal

It seems that by 1796 the reign of the ‘larger than life hat’ was all but over for a while at least and according to  the Morning Post and Fashionable World  dated Thursday, November 17, 1796 in their less than complimentary report, bonnets were now all the rage.

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