One-time mistress of the Prince of Wales, who later became George IV, career courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott led a fascinating life.
This major new biography, written by two Dalrymple Elliot enthusiasts who met online through their love of history, explores the life, loves and family of the celebrated personality who ended up as a prisoner of war during the French Revolution.
Blessed with stunning looks and exceptionally tall for the era, Grace Dalrymple Elliot became notorious when she was publicly divorced by her husband, propelling her into life as a courtesan and a fixture in the gossip columns of the time. ‘Grace’s life was not merely about scandal though; there is much more to her story,’ promise the authors in their introduction.
The reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ child, the notorious courtesan, who also counted a duke and an earl among her lovers, lived an incredible life in 18th and 19th-century London and Paris. The youngest daughter of Hew Dalrymple, an Edinburgh advocate, the tall and beautiful Grace was introduced to Edinburgh Society by her father.
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 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, it is also more than that; it shows 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 and Africa, offering a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era.
This detailed story of Grace is set, for the first time, in the context of her wider family and told more completely than ever before. ‘Grace’s family history shows us her female relatives were no shrinking wall flowers either,’ says co-author Joanne Major. ‘They were all feisty. Women at that time had to use whatever was available to them to get along.’
This tale of scandal and intrigue will not only appeal to history buffs, but to those who enjoy a ripping yarn. As well as being an in-depth social and family history, An Infamous Mistress is simply a great story.
An Infamous Mistress, by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, published by Pen & Sword, £25.