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New Book: 'A Noble Affair' by Rebecca Probert
Brought up in the stately grandeur of Burghley House as heir to the earldom of Exeter, Henry Cecil seemed to have made a suitable match to the heiress of Hanbury Hall, but their marriage was to end in disaster when Emma eloped with Henry's friend, the local curate. Heartbroken, Henry turned his back on aristocratic life, taking up residence in a remote Shropshire village and marrying a farmer's daughter - without having obtained a divorce from his first wife.... The story of Henry Cecil's matrimonial entanglements became an overnight sensation in the 1790s, and even through into the twentieth century was still being told and retold in poetry, song, ballet and prose. 'A Noble Affair' untangles fact from fiction and explores the difficulties Henry faced in extricating himself with honour from the situation. Written by three scholars who have carried out extensive research into marriage, adultery, bigamy and divorce in eighteenth-century England, this new account illustrates just how limited the options once were for those who experienced marital breakdown, and discovers that in some respects Henry did indeed behave nobly.