Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It might cheer Sandra Bullock, who recently divorced a cad, to know that it could have been worse. She might have married a man like Andrew Robinson Stoney (1747-1810) who duped one of the smartest, richest, most beautiful women in the world into marrying him, then spent her fortune, ransacked her estates, alienated her children, held her prisoner, cheated with any woman who would have him (and raped some who would not), and beat and starved her until she ran for her life. The marriage was the subject of a play (School for Scandal), and a novel (Barry Lyndon), and the divorce kept British courts busy for years (Bleak House). Dissolving the Bowes-Stoney union in 1789 changed laws that had governed marriage in Britain since 1536, the year Henry VIII chopped off Anne Boleyn’s head.

Wendy Moore has written a page turner about the scandal: Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore. It's history; it's gossip; and in spite of passages of savage abuse, it's a lot of fun. It's Pride and Prejudice II: The Revenge of Wickham.

(If you'd like to read a transcript of the trial, ask for it through interlibrary loan.)


Christi said...

Fantastic post! I am so intrigued, I will place this on my list right now. It goes to show that gossip is timeless.

Donita Curioso said...

Wow, great post! Your description of this book has hooked me. ( Heh! When you mentioned Barry Lyndon my mind conjured images of Ryan O'neal. I must cast him out!)

tim snead said...

Ryan O'Neal reminds me of Paper Moon which reminds me of Madeline Kahn which makes me happy for a good 20 minutes.

tim snead said...

Thanks Christi! I aims to intrigue.