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Wellington the Beau: The life and loves of the Duke of Wellington

By Patrick Delaforce

Most people are familiar with the image of the ‘Iron Duke’ – the great soldier and conqueror of Napoleon at Waterloo. Few know that the Duke of Wellington was a great lover and, throughout his long and distinguished life, pursued the opposite sex with passion and vigour…

Wellington the Beau is a wonderfully entertaining and gossipy account of Wellington’s relationships with over twenty women. With brand new material, this biography casts a new light on this extraordinary man. Many of the anecdotes come from contemporary diaries and letters and vividly recreate the atmosphere of the time.

His unassuming Irish wife, Kitty, could not compete with the most brilliant courtesans of the age – such as Harriette Wilson – nor with the beautiful Italian singer La Grassini. In later life the Duke was seen to be ‘ill with love’ of the gorgeous American heiress, Mary Anne Patterson. Because Wellington would not divorce his wife – wishing to avoid a scandal – Mary Anne turned to his disreputable elder brother and married him instead, leaving the Iron Duke broken-hearted.

Other relationships were with some of the greatest female intellects of that era: Madame de Staël, Harriet Arbuthnot and Princess Lieven, the notorious Russian spy. Often the subject of controversy and blackmail, due to these ever-changing liaisons, the Duke proved oblivious and was never happier than in the company of the women he admired and loved.

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