Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace

Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: the private diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale

From Kate Summerscale, the author of The Queen of Whale Cay and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, comes a brand new true story of Victorian scandal, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace. See the entry for this biography on our catalogue here (click on “A Look Inside” to see summary and reviews) and check out the book website (which includes a e-sampler of the book, videos and podcast interviews of the author).

From the publisher’s summary: On a mild winter’s evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her  carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town  and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone house lit by gas lamps. This  was the home of the rich widow Lady Drysdale, a vivacious hostess whose soirees  were the centre of an energetic intellectual scene.

Lady Drysdale’s  guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the  ladies in dresses of glinting silk and satin, bodices pulled tight over boned  corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats, neckties and pleated shirt  fronts, dark narrow trousers and shining shoes. When Mrs Robinson joined the  throng she was introduced to Lady Drysdale’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Edward Lane. She was at once enchanted by the handsome Mr Lane, a medical  student ten years her junior. He was ‘fascinating’, she told her diary, before  chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man’s charms. But a wish had  taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake…

A compelling  story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy, and the boundaries of privacy  in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian  wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.

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