Aristocrats Caroline Emily Louisa and Sarah Lennox 1740

Aristocrats Caroline Emily Louisa and Sarah Lennox 1740 1832 Reread while travelingThis biography of the Lennox sisters who comprise two generations covers the 1740s to the end of the Regency period and the beginning of the Victorian era doing an excellent job of sketching in the cultural changes in the English and Irish aristocracy over these decadesRelying upon a richness of primary source uotes Tillyard takes the time to introduce the complicated really tangled family trees here doing an admirable job of elucidating the characters of the sisters and the men they married She also takes the time to develop cultural idiosyncrasies and evolving fashions from gambling to real estate to decorating those vast mansions they were so fond of building in order to enhance family and political prestige If you know some of the colorful figures of the period like Horry Walpole George Selwyn Lord Hervey Mary Wortley Montagu and Madame du Deffand the mentions when these people pop up will add layers to the on going storyTillyard takes the time to sketch in the causes as well as the progress of the doomed Irish Revolt of 1798 inevitable after the high hearted celebration by Edward Fitzgerald and his band who hailed the era of the common man and democracy in 1792 before the Terror ruined the French Revolution There are some sections at the beginnings of some chapters where she indulges in some fictional explorations of their inner minds but I could accept these as the scenes she paints resonate with the facts so carefully introducedOne uibble I had and it's small as I know that the alternative would have added massive word count was relatively little development of their children other than Eddy Fitzgerald Charles James Fox is mainly introduced through his gambling with scant attention paid to his political views and life and none at all to the discovery on his death of his secret marriage and familyI also think a little attention might have been spent on Susan Fox Strangways who was found at the center of the storm so often and who seemed to wiggle free time after time until she too mistook reality for fantasy and eloped with her actorThe focus stays on the Lennox sisters and their husbands and lovers poor Cecelia not mentioned in the title getting her innings at last and comes to a graceful close after the death of Ogilvie the last of them left alive The Lennox Sisters great granddaughters of a king daughters of a cabinet minister and wives of politicians and peers lived lives of real public significance but the private texture of their family centered world mattered to them and they shared their experiences with each other in countless letters From this hitherto unknown archive Stella Tillyard has constructed a group biography of privileged eighteenth century women who she shows have much to tell us about our own time Aristocrats is a brilliant group biography of a family of noble sisters during the Hanoverian period in England The Lennox sisters were great granddaughters of Charles II through his mistress Louise de Keroualle daughters of the Duke of Richmond and wives and mothers to politicians and peers but also fascinating people in their own rights All their lives they wrote letters voluminously to each other and to other family members and it's these letters that Tillyard uses in her reconstruction of their lives and their world uoting liberally so that we hear the sisters in their own words as often as possible Tillyard's portrayal of Hanoverian England is wonderfully rich and engaging from politics and society to the details of daily life and her portraits of the sisters and their relationship are acutely realized Aristocrats is that rare and wonderful thing a non fiction book so engrossing that it's hard to put down Stella Tillyard is a perfectionist Having done exceptionally detailed research into one aristocratic family she presents a delightful insight into the lives of the privileged class over the span of several generations This is the story of four daughters of the second Duke of Richmond Great granddaughters of King Charles II wealthy titled and intimate with the political leaders of the realm the Lennox sisters were envied by many and watched by all Their story lasts almost a century; it begins in 1744 as the Jacobites were planning their last desperate assault on the Hanoverian throne and ends in 1832 five years before the beginning of the Victorian Age The eldest Caroline eloped and became a rich and famous political hostess Her eldest son was a dissolute wastral; her second son Charles Fox became an infamous politician The second girl Emily married the Duke of Leinster the first peer of Ireland After their parents' deaths Emily raised her much younger sisters Louisa and Sarah amidst her own gigantic brood she had in all 22 children only half of whom survived to adulthood Emily arranged a marriage for Louisa to the richest man in Ireland Thomas Conolly King George III loved young Sarah but was convinced to marry a German princess for matters of state Sarah was pushed into a marriage with Thomas Bunbury a man of little sense money or desire for his teenaged bride Their marriage was deeply unhappy and Sarah had a very public affair forcing Bunbury to separate and eventually divorce her She and Emily each remarried later in life and had very happy marriages to men of significantly less money and social standing Every sister but Louisa had a cavalcade of children And every sister maintained a long intimate relationship via letters Thanks to those letters and Tillyard's incredible scholarship the modern age has a pretty good idea of their personalities and daily lives The sisters themselves are vividly drawn and oft uoted I'm a sucker for reading the actual words of historical figures but what truly impressed me was the detail of their surroundings How their servants were treated what kind of decorating was in style how one behaved in Bath what London was like the description of London waking up every morning was particularly impressiveTilyard assembles all this flotsom and arranges it into a coherent world This is a well researched and engagingly written group biography of four sisters daughters of a duke and great granddaughters of King Charles II of England and one of his mistresses Caroline Emily Louisa and Sarah Lennox all wrote to each other and third parties constantly leaving a trove of correspondence that the author used as material for this book Tillyard brings the four of them – and the people and places around them – to life with vivid descriptions and seems to have a strong handle on the personalities and psychologies of each of the sisters She also includes a lot of background information on their world where it enhances the story from everyday details about the dozens of departments involved in the running of an aristocratic household to background on the Irish Rebellion of 1798 in which Emily’s son Edward Fitzgerald was a leaderIt is a well told story and makes for much uicker reading that Tillyard’s A Royal Affair splitting its attention between human feelings and relationships on the one hand and history on the other While none of the sisters seem to have contributed much to history in their own right or really stepped out of the roles of wivesmotherslovers they did have pretty interesting love lives one eloped and was temporarily estranged from the family; one began an affair with her children’s tutor and later married him across class lines after her first husband’s death; one was George III’s crush before hastily getting into an unhappy marriage followed by a public divorce In her preface Tillyard emphasizes the intimacy of the sisters’ letters allowing modern readers to connect with them even across a great gap in time and this is certainly trueThe subtitle is a little misleading as to the time period though About 80% of the book focuses on the period from the 1740s through 1770s; in my edition it’s not until page 397 out of 426 that we hit the 19th century A couple of other better publishing decisions might have been made in that the chapters are way too long and might have been broken up for easier reading and there’s no family tree which becomes especially confusing when talking about Emily’s life with her 22 children Even a list of everyone’s kids with birth and death dates would have been extremely helpfulI’m also never happy to see a nonfiction author who doesn’t cite the sources of specific facts I understand that this is original research and the author does list her sources generally in the back including mostly archival sources StillIn the end I enjoyed reading this book and found it uite interesting but never found myself with much to say about it Maybe it’s because it’s largely a domestic history not too different from stories that could be told about many other families; its four subjects were ultra wealthy and privileged but in the end we are reading their story rather than someone else’s simply because they happened to leave writings behind Maybe it’s because Tillyard did such a good job bringing her subjects’ personalities to life that while I enjoyed reading about the sisters’ complex personalities and admired each of them at various points I ultimately didn’t like them very much; they all come across as rather self satisfied and entitled in the end So I didn’t love the book but I did like it and it has a lot to recommend it whether your interest is anthropological or escapist Wow This is a fabulously good biography one of the best I've ever read erudite but juicy and irresistibly readable from start to finish A combination of the writing and the subjects themselves made it so amazing to me; these four Lennox sisters are just ridiculously interesting every one of them intelligent passionate sympathetic and flawed in their own diverse ways And yet I've read biographies before of figures who are just as appealing that still somehow failed to leap off the page like this one did for me Amanda Foreman's Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire comes to mind So I'm giving a lot of the credit for my newfound collective girl crush on the Lennox sisters to Stella Tillyard's sparkling and vivid telling of their story While concentrating solely on these sisters she manages to give the most fascinating panoramic look at the whole time period in which they lived A strongly written surprisingly detailed account of four uasi royal English sisters living and loving and thriving and having a high time in England during the time of George III The four Lennox sisters a fifth never married and lived uietly lived nothing even close to uietly One sister eloped with an up and coming politician almost twice her age; another sister had a passionate love for her Irish peer husband then after his death married her children's much younger tutor and gave birth to 22 that's no typo children between them; another sister ran away with a lover and scadalously was divorced by her husband; another sister lived a rich life in Ireland constantly scared of rebellion and often acted as a connection between the sisters Tillyard uses the sisters' thousands of letters to each other and others to tell the story of these aristocrats An excellent group biography of 4 of the Lennox sisters which shows what it was like to be an aristocratic woman during the period I thought that Tillyard did a very good job of showing what it was like to live through a scandal and how one might become brought back into society to some degree afterwards Love this historical period I watched the BBC adaptation and when i saw it was adapted from a book I bought it right away wonderful readStella Tillyard takes the lives of these amazing young sisters to build a very compelling family saga that encompasses most of the 18th century From the Ancient Regime to the French Revolution with the Irish revolts and the Pitt government included Such an interesting story of these really remarkably modern girls and their role in historical events

About the Author: Stella Tillyard

Stella Tillyard is a British novelist and historian She was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston Her bestselling book Aristocrats was made into a miniseries for BBC1Masterpiece Theatre and sold to over twenty countries Winner of the Meilleur Livre Etranger the Longman History Today Prize and the Fawcett Prize Tillyard has taught at

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