Shock tactics: the flamboyant life of a Hanoverian maid of honour

At the masquerade celebrating the end of the War of Austrian Succession no one could take their eyes off the beautiful Elizabeth Chudleigh. She had come, she said, as ‘Iphigenia, ready for the sacrifice’, and it was what she was wearing — or to all appearances not wearing — that caused a sensation that lasted for months. In the candlelight, her clinging costume of flesh-coloured silk made her appear completely naked; ‘a perfect review of the unadorned mother of mankind’, said one account. The furore caused by this episode was only eclipsed when, 27 years later, Elizabeth, now the widowed Duchess of Kingston, was put on trial for bigamy. The

Sadness and scandal: Hinton, by Mark Blacklock, reviewed

In 1886 the British mathematician and schoolmaster Charles Howard Hinton presented himself to the police at Bow Street, London to confess to bigamy. A theorist of the fourth dimension, he had looked destined to forge a career that would align him with the most renowned academic figures of the age. Now, with a conviction, a brief imprisonment, and ‘illegitimate’ twin sons attached to his name, his reputation was ruined. Unable to find employment, he fled with his first family to Japan. Mark Blacklock’s novel tells us what happened next. We initially encounter Hinton at Yokohama harbour where, with his four sons and his first wife, Mary, he is about to

The devastating effects of bigamy: Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones, reviewed

Conservative estimates place the number of those in America with more than one spouse as up to 100,000, but the figure is much higher. Bigamy, which is outlawed in 50 states, takes place in secret, with only a handful of people knowing about it. ‘It’s a shame that there isn’t a true name for a woman like my mother Gwendolyn,’ says Dana Lynn Yarboro, the ‘other’ daughter of her father’s ‘other’ wife, in Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow, a novel that examines the multitudinous effects of bigamy — how it can extend families, break them, confuse identity and damage lives. ‘There are other terms I know,’ Dana continues.‘When she is tipsy,