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Utterly Oyster

Andrew O’Hagan: Fergie-alike, 12 August 2021

The Bench 
by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Puffin, 40 pp., £12.99, May, 978 0 241 54221 7
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Her Heart for a Compass 
by Sarah, Duchess of York.
Mills & Boon, 549 pp., £14.99, August, 978 0 00 838360 2
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... out on a street of houses with swing-seats and cats on porches. ‘This is your bench,’ the duchess writes, ‘where you’ll witness great joy’ (I think she means ‘experience’, not ‘witness’). On the next page there’s a different bench (different is good!), where another man, a person of colour, is asleep with a small boy on his ...

Why the richest woman in Britain changed her will 26 times

Mark Kishlansky: The Duchess of Marlborough, 14 November 2002

The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Ophelia Field.
Hodder, 575 pp., £20, June 2002, 9780340768075
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... The memoirs of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, are among the more remarkable documents of the 18th century. Begun by 1704, they were written, rewritten and ghostwritten over three decades before publication in 1742. An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from Her First Coming to Court to the Year 1710 was a none too subtle attempt at vindicating her brief period as favourite to Queen Anne, justifying her personal and political roles, refuting slanders against her and her warrior husband, and defaming her enemies, both dead and alive ...

Things that are worth naming

Linda Colley, 21 November 1991

A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... child, and her father died when she was eight. So, at just 13, she became a maid of honour to the Duchess of York, putting up with the toadying, the gossip and the endless hours of card play involved in court life because it was her only chance of a salary and some kind of prospects, and resolutely keeping both her ...

Bertie pulls it off

John Campbell, 11 January 1990

King George VI 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 506 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 79667 4
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... relief – or would have been if there had not been serious doubt whether his brother the Duke of York was up to the job either. His health was poor, he suffered from a severe stammer and he lacked even Edward’s vapid charm. For some months – while the American press speculated that the new king was ‘of poorer royal timber than has occupied England’s ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine, 20 October 1994

Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... courtesan was an integral part of royal history. But while much is known about such women as the Duchess of Portsmouth, Elizabeth Villiers, Henrietta Howard and the Countess of Warwick, no serious attempt has yet been made to write that alternative version of royal history which their lives and loves collectively constitute. In any such account, the life and ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine, 16 August 1990

Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... in public, and much of the mud has stuck to the Duke of Windsor himself, to say nothing of the Duchess. Sarah Bradford’s biography of George VI portrayed him as the ultimate sacrificial sovereign, overwhelmed and destroyed by events he could neither control nor comprehend. And Philip Ziegler’s official life of Lord Mountbatten suggested that the royal ...

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