Lucy, Countess of Bedford was one of the richest, most fashionable and influential women in England at the time of Shakespeare. Married to Earl of Bedford, the Queen's closest friend, cousin to Robert Sidney and patron of John Donne, she existed in a world of gossip, scandal and intrigue at the centre of a glittering world of celebrity. Her fascinating life has never been the subject of a book, until now.London in the early years of the seventeenth century was home to many outstanding literary figures, including William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson and John Donne. At a time when poets were dependent on patronage for support and reward, Lucy, Countess of Bedford was patron to many of the great literary and artistic figures of her time, not least Donne and Jonson and extended to many others; Drayton, Samuel Daniel and Nicholas Stone. Her influence was so great she put on and acted in performances at the royal court.A highly educated and intelligent woman, Lucy married young and continued her family's ascent in the social order of the court.
Her husband's support of the Earl of Essex rebellion against Elizabeth plunged the family into the depths of disfavour, and coupled with their lavish lifestyle lead to financial ruin. But the arrival of James I lead to a revival, with the couple being one of the first to pay homage to the new King. A staunch Calvinist, her life illuminates what life was like for aristocratic women at the time and her deep involvement in both politics and literature demonstrates the active role women could play.