Tory ladies

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, September 18, 2008 , , ,

The glamour of the Duchess of Devonshire has eclipsed a very important historical fact. She was not the only lady to have become involved in politics long before female suffrage had become a political fact. Nor were the Whigs the only ones to have powerful and influential political hostesses.

Tory Historian is reading Diane Urquhart's "The Ladies of Londonderry", a history of that powerful family through the distaff side. The book follows the story for 150 years, from 1800 to 1959, by which time the role of the political hostess had diminished though had not disappeared completely.

With women entering politics directly and, as it turned out, ready to rise to the very top, back-stage management seemed to be a little less important. Further reports of the book will follow.


  1. HM Stanley Says:
  2. I suppose the notion that 19th century aristocractic hostesses only existed amongst Whigs is not new. Some of the greatest women characters created by Trollope (Duchess of Omnium formerly Lady Glencora Palliser formerly Lady Glencora MaCluskie; Lady Laura Kennedy formerly Lady Standish] are such Whig political wives. Not surprisingly, perhaps, given that Trollope was a Whig. Yet Trollope was also quite conservative and these women's forays into the political world generally do not end felicitously.

  3. HM Stanley Says:
  4. Sorry. That was Lady Laura Standish.

  5. I suppose by Trollope's time they were Liberals and that is what the circle around the Pallisers is. There is an assumption that women become interested and involved but, as you say, none of it ends well, particularly poor Lady Laura's efforts. A search will have to be instituted for novels about Tory ladies in politics (apart from Georgette Heyer's Regency novels, of course).

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