The Empress of Fashion

Georgiana Spencer was born in 1757 and resided at her parent’s country estate Althorp. She was affectionately called G by her mother.  

The young G was a real catch for any English aristocrat looking for a suitable wife. Her long hair and pale skin reinforced her great beauty as did her intelligence.  

No stranger to great wealth and large ancestral homes, she was very used to being around the rich, famous and titled.

Married off to the very wealthy and emotionally cruel, 5th Duke of Devonshire at the age of 17, Georgiana commenced living at the Duke’s country home Chatsworth and Devonshire house in London. 

 

Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the Cavendish family for 600 years.

 

Georgiana became an instant hit in English society with her quick wit, social standing and dress sense. 

Georgiana was England’s first It Girl

Her well dressed friends and lovers of high fashion included Marie Antoinette, The Queen of France. 

Women imitated her dress sense and longed to see her in public. Georgiana was touted the Empress of Fashion and quickly became a superstar and fashion icon in Georgian England. 

The famous portrait painter, Gainsborough painted Georgiana in 1785 and captured her great beauty and incredible fashion sense. The painting is one of the most famous at Chatsworth today. 

 

Portrait of Georgiana Spencer by Thomas Gainsborough.

 

Georgiana was very politically savvy. An unusual pastime for women living in 18th century England. She campaigned fervently for the Whigs in 1778 by attending speeches and rallies and being out on the hustings. With her influence, Charles Fox was returned to government as Prime Minister.

To quell her emotionally empty marriage, Georgiana enjoyed wild gambling parties and heavy drinking at the Duke’s ancestral home Chatsworth with her Whig party friends. It wasn’t unusual for Georgiana to gamble away thousands of pounds in an evening.  

Georgiana defied social conventions by writing a hot and steamy, best selling novel, The Sylph in 1778. The novel was about her life and those of English aristocrats in her social circle. The novel was scandalous and had all of England talking.

It is not hard to deduce, Georgiana was a woman well before her time!!

 


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