Elizabeth Chudleigh was one of the eighteenth century's most colourful characters. Born into impoverished gentility, her beauty, wit and vitality soon earned her a place at the centre of court life. When she married the Duke of Kingston in 1769 she had reached the highest rung of the social ladder. But Elizabeth was carrying a dark secret. In 1744 she had secretly married a naval lieutenant called Augustus Hervey, and after the Duke's death her first marriage was discovered. Bigamy fever swept London society and, in a very public trial, Elizabeth was found guilty. But her strength of character ensured that, even when her friends deserted her, her courage and zest for life did not. In an engaging history of this strong and wilful woman, Gervat shows there was far more to Elizabeth than the caricature villain her contemporaries made her out to be.
After reading history at Oxford University, Claire Gervat worked briefly in the City then moved into journalism. As a freelance travel writer, Claire has contributed to many national newspapers and magazines, including the Independent, Guardian and the Sunday Times. She also writes 'The Trader', a humorous weekly column about the life of a fictional city girl in the Independent.