Affair of State (Hardcover)

A Biography of the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire

By Henry Vane

Peter Owen Publishers, 9780720612332, 300pp.

Publication Date: July 1, 2004

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The story of the affair between Louise Alten and Lord Hartington, and their later marriage, takes place at the heart of aristocratic and political life during one of the most exciting eras of English politics. It runs from the front benches of the House of Commons to the Prince and Princess of Wales' high-living circle, yet it has never been the subject of a full biography. Lord Hartington, Duke of Devonshire, was a political high flyer, heir to one of the great Whig families. A Liberal leader who turned down the opportunity to be Prime Minister three times, he served at the heart of government during a seminal political age, serving under Gladstone and battling with Disraeli. Louise Alten, the Double Duchess of Manchester and Devonshire, was first well-known as one of the legendary beauties of Victorian high society. She became the mistress of Lord Hartington as he disentangled himself from a tumultuous affair with the famous society courtesan Skittles, and their loyalty to each other remained constant for 30 years. The Duchess was widely reputed to be the most powerful person in England outside the government and one of the great society hostesses of the age. She manipulated political events in favor of her husband through lavish house parties at the couple's Chatsworth estate—parties that were attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales (the King and Queen from 1901), and their fashionable set, of which the Duke and Duchess were at the center.

About the Author

Henry Vane is a writer and historian based in Eastern Europe.

Praise For Affair of State: A Biography of the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire

"Is this wonderful book a lost masterpiece by P.G. Wodehouse? Lord Hartingdon is almost like a major literary character, full of quirks and crotchets. I long to see him played by Peter O’Toole."  —Daily Express