Author(s): Kate Summerscale
On a mild winter's evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone house lit by gas lamps. This was the home of the rich widow Lady Drysdale, a vivacious hostess whose soirees were the centre of an energetic intellectual scene. Lady Drysdale's guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in dresses of glinting silk and satin, bodices pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats, neckties and pleated shirt fronts, dark narrow trousers and shining shoes. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was introduced to Lady Drysdale's daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Edward Lane. She was at once enchanted by the handsome Mr Lane, a medical student ten years her junior. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake...A compelling story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy, and the boundaries of privacy in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.
From the number one bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of Victorian scandal
It is a beautiful piece, written with great lucidity and respect for the reader, and with immaculate restraint. A classic, to my mind, of the finest documentary writing - John Le Carre on The Suspicions of Mr Whicher A pacy analysis of a true British murder case from 1860, the unravelling of which involved one of the earliest Scotland Yard detectives and inspired sensation novelists such as Dickens and Wilkie Collins ... Absolutely riveting - Sarah Waters, Guardian Summerscale has constructed nothing less than a masterpiece ... My shelves are stacked with books about crime, but none more satisfying than this - Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday Sparse, melancholy, beautifully written ... the year's most beguiling biography - Independent
Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, winner of the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Kate Summerscale has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London.