Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
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Author:  Madame Amelia [ Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

I am currently reading the 1998 biography of Georgiana Cavendish by Amanda Foreman. I am absolutely fascinated by the association between the Duchess, Marie Antoinette and Madame Polignac. I was wondering whether any other forum users have read the biography and have any thoughts on the relationship between Antoinette and Georgiana, or the similarities between their characters?

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:13 pm ]
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No, dear... and I would be extremely pleased to read more about Georgina ! Please tell us more !

Author:  Monsieur Andre [ Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:30 am ]
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Have you heard about the new movie with Keira Knightly? It looks splendid. Everything I WANTED the Coppola movie to be!





Author:  jadean [ Wed Nov 28, 2007 3:33 pm ]
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Monsieur Andre wrote:
Have you heard about the new movie with Keira Knightly? It looks splendid. Everything I WANTED the Coppola movie to be!


I haven't heard of the movie, what movie is it?

Author:  Madame Amelia [ Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:12 pm ]
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It's a movie based on Georgiana's life, where Keira Knightley will play the Duchess. I find her casting a huge disappointment as I can't stand her wooden acting!

Author:  jadean [ Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:41 am ]
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I hadn't heard they were doing a film about her, I agree with you about Knightley.
I am interested to know more about Georgiana.

Author:  Madame Amelia [ Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:54 am ]
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If you wanted to know more, I'd recommend reading her bio by Amanda Foreman, it's marvellous. Wikipedia is sadly lacking with their profile of her. I picked up the book for £1.50, just days after I contemplated paying nearly £10 for it!

Georgiana was an insightful woman. She started off the ostrich plume fashion in England that became so popular. She was also an active political figure, and a good friend to Marie Antoinette.

Author:  Hans Axel [ Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:21 am ]
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Can't you please tell us more about her, Amalia? I'm sure it would be appreciated.

Author:  Madame Amelia [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:19 pm ]
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Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was born Georgiana Spencer on June 7th 1757, the daughter of the future Earl and Countess Spencer. She is an ancestor of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

As a girl, she was high-spirited, easily manipulated and attention seeking. She developed a need to constantly be in the spotlight, which was detrimental later in her life.

On the day before her 18th birthday, Georgiana married William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who was nine years older than her. The marriage was unhappy from the start, with the Duke leaving Georgiana to her own devices. In a strange parallel to the life of Marie Antoinette, Georgiana was childless for almost ten years.

Unhappy with the Duke's neglect, and unsatisfied with her childlessness, Georgiana threw herself into politics, becoming a fervent supporter of the Whig party. During elections, she and some of the ladies of her clique ("The Devonshire House Circle") took to the streets of London, canvassing for votes.

Georgiana became friends with Lady Elizabeth Foster, wife of an Irish MP. Bess, as she was known, had also been courted by Count Fersen. The friendship outraged contemporaries the same way Marie Antoinette's friendship with Madame de Polignac did. Soon Georgiana was totally dependent on Bess, unable to go anywhere without her. Bess, however, was obsessed with usurping Georgiana's position, and even had two illegitimate children by the Duke.

Although Georgiana's mother, Lady Spencer, constantly alerted Georgiana to Bess's true character, Georgiana seemed unable to grasp Bess's betrayal. The Duchess's friends were disgusted by Bess's behaviour, (she added post scripts to Georgiana's secret letters, and often wrote them herself), and Lady Spencer even went so far as to ban her from visiting her with Georgiana.

The Duchess was a frequent visitor to Paris, and a great friend of Marie Antoinette and Madame de Polignac. At the time of the Revolution, Georgiana begged Monsieur de Lafayette to take care of the Queen, and she was devastated to hear of her execution.

Georgiana eventually bore her husband three children - Lady Georgiana Cavendish in 1783, Lady Harriet Cavendish in 1785, and Lord William Cavendish in 1790. Having finally produced an heir for her husband, the Duchess began an affair with Charles Grey (the Earl for whom Earl Grey tea is named), and bore him an illegitimate daughter, Eliza Courtney (an ancestor of Sarah, Duchess of York).

When the Duke discovered his wife's betrayal, he threatened her with divorce. They remained together, on the condition that Georgiana had nothing to do with either Grey or her daughter with him. Instead, she presented herself to Eliza as a concerned distant relative, and often sent her letters and gifts. Eliza was brought up by Grey's parents as his sister.

Georgiana died in 1806. She had been ill for some years with an eye infection, and before her death developed what appeared to be jaundice. She died deeply in debt, due to an insatiable gambling addiction.

Three years after the death of Georgiana, Bess Foster finally became the Duchess of Devonshire, the post for which she had been aiming for 25 years.

I think that's it! Honestly, she is fascinating to learn about and I would recommend reading a biography of her. There's a lot of stuff I've missed out, but I hope this gives you all a general idea about her life!

Author:  Hans Axel [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:30 pm ]
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Thank you so much for the interesting information! Guess I'll have to read a biography of her now. :wink:

Author:  Arianna [ Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:11 pm ]
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Thansk very much, Madame Amelia! Her biography sounds wonderful! I have to read it someday :)

Author:  Madame Amelia [ Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:26 pm ]
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I'm just glad it's relatively coherent! :D

Author:  Hellou_Librorum [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Wow. That's tough! I pity that poor woman. Although she wasn't a saint, however her husband makes her almost look like one though! And your best friend being your friend just to have your position. :(

Author:  Délicate fleur [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

I am reading this book at the moment...for some reason I am not finding her very endearing. I find it interesting Foreman's assertion that her infatuations with her lady friends was 'the French way', something she learned from Marie Antoinette and 'the little Po'. From her portraits, she has a very delicate, slightly unconventional beauty. I do not think Miss Knightley could do her justice....the wig in the first picture...c'est terrible! Here is a link to the trailer:

Author:  Rosalie [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Yes, I heard of the movie and I'm going to watch it, as I'm interested in all that concerns the 18th century. But I don't like Keira Knightley that much either...I find her somehow too artificial, but anyway the movie looks I'm waiting for it!

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