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The Gilded Lily

By Ernest Dudley

When Ernest Dudley set out to write this biography of Lillie Langtry, he was warned by her daughter’s solicitors: “You proceed with your proposals at your own peril.”

But despite the initial warnings, Ernest Dudley was able to gain access to private sources of information and to win the confidences of relatives and intimate friends of the fascinating “Jersey Lily” whose name remains a legend.

A woman of “unique loveliness, scintillating wit and implacable courage” came to London in 1878, young, married, ambitious but unknown. Within a year she had so captivated Society that crowds followed her in the street, fashions were named after her, leading painters, writers, noblemen and men of fortune vied for her favours and Queen Victoria herself received her in audience-curious to see the woman whom, the world knew, the Prince of Wales had taken as his mistress.

Ernest Dudley has unearthed hitherto unknown facts about her amazing life and career and has penetrated with subtle, clear, though sometimes alarming, skill into the glittering personality of this “hard-headed professional beauty” who, for all her riches, her conquests and her triumphs, died in 1929 at the age of 76, a sad, somewhat lonely and tragic figure-yet beautiful, sensational and dramatic to the end.

Ernest Dudley ran away from home at seventeen to become an actor in a Shakespearean troop, where he would later meet his future wife on the set of Peter Pan. Dudley then turned his attention to writing, first as a journalist, then as a writer for radio, television and film, before embarking on historical and detective novel writing. He was a founding member of the Crime Writers Association, and a marathon runner well into old age.

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