Title: Lady of the House – Elite 19th Century Women and their Role in the English Country House
Author: Charlotte Furness
Release Date: October 11, 2018
Description: This book tells the true stories of three gentile women who were born, raised, lived and died within the world of England’s Country Houses. This is not the story of ‘seen and not heard’ women, these are incredible women who endured tremendous tragedy and worked alongside their husbands to create a legacy that we are still benefitting from today.
Harriet Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville was the second born child of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who married her aunt’s lover, raised his illegitimate children and reigned supreme as Ambassadress over the Parisian elite.
Lady Mary Isham lived at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire with her family where, despite great tragedy, she was responsible for developing a house and estate whilst her husband remained ‘the silent Baronet’.
Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland hailed from Castle Howard and used her upbringing to design and build a Castle and gardens at Belvoir suitable for a Duke and Duchess that inspired a generation of country house interiors.
These women were expected simply to produce children, to be active members of society, to give handsomely to charity and to look the part. What these three remarkable women did instead is develop vast estates, oversee architectural changes, succeed in business, take a keen role in politics as well as successfully managing all the expectations of an aristocratic lady.
Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I have an affinity for historical non-fiction. As a writer who concentrates on different historical time periods, I love learning about the day-to-day life of people, specifically women, who influenced the world around them. I don’t want to read a book of facts. I want those facts to come to life; I want to see the world in which these fascinating people lived and what implications their choices had on the world at large.
When I first learned that this book was set to be released, I immediately pre-ordered a copy knowing I’d devour it once it arrived. I looked up the author on various social media platforms to get a sense of who she was. I was surprised to find someone who felt real and passionate about the subject matter. She didn’t feel ‘academic.’ She felt like someone who wanted to take this little niche of history and show the world how these women influenced the female role in the aristocracy. In some ways, it’s like getting an inside peek into delicious bits of history about the English upper class. How many of us read romance books about Dukes, Earls, and Vicounts and their love affairs? Now we get to savor a few real stories. And we all know that truth is stranger than fiction!