Wedlock: The disastrous marriage and triumphant divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore (Public lecture, 15th April)


6394766Join Wendy Moore, author of Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match, for a talk about the shocking and fascinating life of Mary Eleanor Bowes. All are warmly invited to this event organised by Inventions of the Text, on 15th April at 4.30, in St Chad’s College library.

Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749-1800) was the only daughter of George Bowes, the coal entrepreneur and Durham MP who created the Gibside country estate. On her father’s death, when Mary was 11, she inherited a fortune but her vast wealth proved to be her downfall. After an unhappy marriage to John Lyon, 9th Early of Strathmore, she was widowed with five young children. Headstrong and carefree, she was tricked into a second, brutal marriage by an Irish fortune hunter, Andrew Robinson Bowes, the model for William Makepeace Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon. Mary Eleanor suffered shocking physical and mental cruelty for eight years but ultimately she triumphed in a series of remarkable court cases which enthralled Georgian Britain. Mary Eleanor’s story is revealed through diaries, letters, accounts and legal documents, many of them kept in Durham. Her experience highlights several important themes – including women’s rights, domestic abuse, and changing attitudes towards marriage and divorce – which are just as topical today.

Wendy Moore is an author and freelance journalist. She has published three books on characters and events from the 18th century. Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match, is her second book. It was a Channel 4 TV Book Club choice and reached number 1 in the Sunday Times bestsellers list.

Booking is not essential for this event, but is appreciated. Please email inventionsofthetext@gmail.com

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