Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Leave a comment

The Queen of the Desert

lady hester stanhope 3It’s impossible for me not to find some warmth for lady Hester Stanhope.
I was asked a few days back why I never wrote a post about her and basically, it’s because when I heard of her for the first time, she fell outside of my two main time-frames of interest – the Elizabethan era and the Victorian.
But frankly, who cares?

Tall, spirited, not beautiful, Hester Stanhope was the daughter of an eccentric inventor – the sort of guy that forces his daughter to raise turkeys because “it would improve her virtue” – who disowned her when she tried to take the defenses of her half-brother.
She was described by Lord Byron as “that dangerous thing, a female wit”.
You see where this is leading, right?
You see why I like her, too.

She took the Grand Tour in 1802 – she was 26. Women did not usually go on the Grand Tour at the time.
She went through unrequested love, family tragedy, loss and poverty.
he left England in 1810, on the suggestion of her doctor – getting away would do her good.
It did. Continue reading