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Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Lady Georgiana Spencer (June 7, 1757 - March 30, 1806) was the first wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire. Her father, John, 1st Earl Spencer, was a great-grandson of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Georgiana was a celebrated beauty and a socialite who gathered around her a large circle of literary and political figures - a salon. She was also an active political campaigner in an age when women's suffrage was still over a century away.

Georgiana married the future Duke on June 6, 1774. It was she who introduced him to his mistress and second wife-to-be, Lady Elizabeth Foster. "Bess" was Georgiana's best friend, and she tolerated the menage-a-trois for many years. Georgiana herself formed a relationship with Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, by whom she had a daughter. When the Devonshires eventually divorced -- on the grounds of her adultery -- it was acceptable for her ex-husband to re-marry, but not acceptable for Georgiana.

During her years in the public eye, Georgiana was painted by Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds. Gainsborough's famous painting of her in a large French hat was lost for many years.

Later members of the same family as Georgiana include Lady Caroline Lamb and Diana, Princess of Wales, (Georgiana was the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana -- who was known before her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales as Lady Diana Spencer).

Biography



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