When Lady Diana Spencer was born in 1735, the eldest child of the third Duke of Marlborough, she was expected to follow a traditional path through life. Educated in the fashion considered suitable for a girl, she married a man of the appropriate rank for a duke's daughter.
But finding herself in a desperately unhappy marriage, Lady Diana overturned convention. She left her husband, maintained a secret relationship with her lover, and hid the birth of an illegitimate child.
Her scandalous divorce was only the fourth of its kind and was inevitably blamed on her.
Carola Hicks talks about her biography 'Improper Pursuits - The Scandalous Life of Lady Di Beauclerk' Improper Pursuits - The Scandalous Life of Lady Di Beauclerk (MacMillan; ISBN 0-333-78068-X; £18.99)
You can see much of Lady Di Beauclerk's work at Lydiard House, Wiltshire.
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