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An Authentic Detail of Particulars relative to the late Duchess of Kingston.
G Kearsley, at Johnson’s Head1788
[CHUDLEIGH, Elizabeth, Duchess of Kingston] An Authentic Detail of Particulars relative to the late Duchess of Kingston. A New Edition. London, printed for G Kearsley, at Johnson’s Head, No 46 Fleet Street 1788. 8vo approx 20cm x 12 cm, Pp [ii] ii, 178, 2( adverts). Engraved frontis of the Duchess with breasts exposed “as she appeared at the Venetian Ambassador’s Ball in Somerset House” [by Chesham after Gainsborough]. Recent very professional rebind in half calf reusing contemporary marbled boards, spine in six compartments with raised bands gilt ruled, red Morocco title label. Small stain on p 97 with consequent offsetting on p 96, some toning and light foxing to first and last few leaves, otherwise a Very Good and tidy copy. Ownership stamp of the Marquess of Sligo dated 1921 on front pastedown and another pencil signature on the front free endpaper. Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston (8 Mar 1721 – 26 August 1788), sometimes called Countess of Bristol, was an English noble and courtier, known by her contemporaries for her adventurous life style. She was the daughter of Colonel Thomas Chudleigh (died 1726), and was appointed maid of honour to Augusta, Princess of Wales, in 1743. She had gained considerable notoriety as a courtesan and mistress and after some very dubious legal proceedings to prove that she was not married to Augustus John Hervey [they had married in secret and Hervey could not prove it] was found guilty of bigamy at a trial by her peers at Westminster Hall that attracted 4,000 spectators. Elizabeth eventually left England for St.Petersburg where she was the guest of Catherine the Great , and bought several properties intending to create an estate in the English style. Later she resided in Paris and Rome. Her detractors claimed her to be a coarse and licentious woman, and she was ridiculed as Kitty Crocodile by the comedian Samuel Foote in a play ”A Trip to Calais”, which, however, he was not allowed to produce. She is reputed to have been the original of William Makepeace Thackeray's character Beatrix Esmond, Baroness Bernstein in The History of Henry Esmond and The Virginians. The frontis plate shows her near naked appearance impersonating Iphigenia at a Ball given in honour of the Venetian Ambassador. She is described thus in this work; “ The Duchess had, through her life, distinguished herself as a most eccentric character. Her turn of mind was original, and many of her actions were without a parallel. Even when she moved in the sphere of amusement, it was in a style peculiarly her own…The Duchess, then denominated Miss Chudleigh, appeared almost in the unadorned simplicity of primitive nature….she was everything but naked, and yet like our first parents she was not ashamed”. This work seems to be a re-issue of the first edition of the same year, with a revised preface mentioning the date of her death. The text is slightly longer, with an addition of four pages . A pleasing copy of a work describing a woman ahead of her times.


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