When the glamorous Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston, Countess of Bristol, went on trial at Westminster Hall for bigamy in April 1776, the story drew more attention in society than the American War of Independence. However, Elizabeth refused to submit to public humiliation and retire quietly. Rather than backing gracefully out of the limelight, she embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe, being welcomed by the likes of the Pope and Catherine the Great.
Elizabeth led her life in the inner circle of the Hanoverian court and her exploits delighted and scandalised the press and the people. She made headlines and was a constant feature in penny prints and gossip columns. But her behaviour, often depicted as attention-seeking and manipulative, hid a more complex tale – that of Elizabeth’s fight to overcome personal tragedy and loss.
Catherine Ostler takes a fresh look at Elizabeth’s story and seeks to understand and reappraise a woman who refused to be defined by society’s expectations.
She will be in conversation with fellow historian Natalie Livingstone, author of The Mistresses of Cliveden and the forthcoming book The Women of Rothschild.
About the speaker
Catherine Ostler is an author and journalist who has been Editor-in-Chief of Tatler, ES, the Evening Standard magazine, and Editor of The Times Weekend. She has also written for a wide range of publications, including the Financial Times, Vogue, the Daily Mail and Newsweek. She read English at Oxford University, specialising in 18th-century literature.