“THE MOMENT A FEMALE DEVIATES FROM THE PATH OF RECTITUDE… SHE IS CALLED WORTHLESS, AND OFTEN INFAMOUS; BUT LOOK AT THE CONDUCT OF THOSE MEN”
TAYLOR, Elizabeth. Authentic Memoirs of Mrs. Clarke. London: Thomas Tegg, 1809. Octavo, 19th-century brown morocco gilt, raised bands, silk endpapers, uncut. $500.
Second edition of this tell-all about Mrs. Clarke’s affair with the Duke of York and the dalliances of many other members of the British aristocracy, with a hand-colored frontispiece portrait.
An early 19th-century exposé about the Duke of York and the intrigues of high society by Elizabeth Taylor, a close friend of Mrs. Clarke. “In 1803, under the name of Mrs. Clarke, [Mary Ann Thompson] took a great house in Gloucester Place and began to entertain sumptuously, and that rumour from the first coupled her name with that of the Duke of York. She rushed into the wildest extravagances; she kept ten horses and twenty servants, including three professed men cooks; she ate off the plate which had belong to the Duc de Berri, and her wineglasses cost two guineas each” (DNB). Although she was to be a “kept woman,” the Duke paid her an allowance only irregularly and, eventually, Mrs. Clarke had no choice but to investigate alternative means. Exploiting her position with regard to the Duke, who was also commander-in-chief, Clarke accepted money from officers, promising to use her influence to advance their careers. Anxious to discredit Mrs. Clarke, a senior member of Parliament disclosed the details of the arrangements during a session of the House of Commons, leading to a massive scandal. This, in turn, sparked a publishing frenzy, fed by the split public opinion on the issue. Taylor’s book was the best one written in support of Mrs. Clarke. Bookplate of antiquities collector Minto Wilson.
Small paper repair to half title. Text generally clean, a few minor rubs to front cover. A handsomely bound, uncut copy.