A Hanoverian menage-a-trois

This is the beautiful Sarah Fairbrother, servant’s daughter turned ballet dancer turned prince’s wife. The delicate, talented Sarah was considered one of the beauties of her generation and already had two illegitimate children by two different men by the time she caught the eye of Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge. A grandson of George […]

The Jersey Lily

Today is the birthday of Lillie Langtry (or to give her her true name, Emilie Charlotte Le Breton), a music hall star who charmed her way into the beds of earls and princes. A Jersey girl, Lillie was introduced to London society by her Irish landowner husband, Edward Langtry. She soon became a star, famed […]

“The curse of the nation”: Lady Castlemaine, the beautiful bitch

Barbara Palmer, née Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, is one of the most famous and enduring royal mistresses of all time. Barbara was born into a rather lowly family, but overcame those social limitations by growing up into an absolute stunner. Tall and voluptuous, Barbara positively oozed sexuality and swiftly made a very opportune marriage indeed. […]

Hidden historical heroines (#34: Edith Swanneck)

Edith Swannesha (Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce – “Edith [the] Gentle Swan” – c. 1025 – c. 1086) – also known as “Edith Swanneck” or “Edith the Fair” – was the first wife and consort of Harold Godwinson, a famous beauty known for her gentleness and the pleasing paleness of her skin. Edith was Harold’s common-law wife […]

Hidden historical heroines (#32: Eleanor Cobham)

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester (c.1400 – 7 July 1452), was the mistress and then second wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV. Eleanor was convicted and imprisoned for ‘sorcery’ and ‘treasonable necromancy’ in 1441 and forced to make a public penance in the streets of London – all […]

Legs fit for a King

Most remember Charles II as the randiest Stuart King, flaunting his many, many mistresses and dozen or so bastard children. Charles experienced the sensual delights of the still-famous actress Nell Gwyn, the astonishingly beautiful but hedonistic Barbara Palmer, the French spy Louise de Kérouaille, and many more. But his brother and heir, the unfortunately-Catholic James II, […]

Hidden historical heroines (#28: Jane Lane)

Jane Lane (c. 1626 – 9 September 1689) was the daughter of a Staffordshire gentleman, a lady who would have led an unremarkable life and been totally lost to history had she not been caught up in the enterprise to smuggle Charles II abroad after he lost the Battle of Worcester. Jane was born around 1626, […]

Hidden historical heroine: (#24: Margaret Drummond(s))

Our first Margaret Drummond (c.1340 – c.1375) was the second wife and queen of David II of Scotland. A member of the Scottish gentry, the young Margaret caught the eye of her king whilst he was married to Joan of the Tower, an English Princess – daughter of Edward II and Isabella of France. David […]

Hidden historical heroines (#20: Marie-Louise O’ Murphy)

  Marie-Louise O’ Murphy de Boisfaily (21 October 1737 – 11 December 1814) was the youngest child of an Irish army officer. She was a celebrated French beauty, one of the younger mistresses of Louis XV.  The youngest of seven, Marie-Louise was born to ex-Irish army officer Daniel O’ Murphy and his French wife. Daniel had […]

Hidden historical heroines (#13: “Skittles”)

  Catherine Walters, also known as “Skittles” (13 June 1839 – 4 August 1920) was a renowned trendsetter and media darling; she was the last great Victorian courtesan, famed for her natural beauty, her discretion and for being less flamboyant and much more classy than her numerous contemporaries.   Born just a few years into […]