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The common perception of Britain’s Victorian era as one of strict and strait-laced conformity has long been subject to rebuttal, and Robert Bernard Martin’s Enter Rumour (1962) was an early and distinguished endeavour in this line.
Herein Martin weighs the evidence of four scandalous incidents that aroused great public interest during the first dozen years of Victoria’s reign, each of them emanating from ‘what the Victorians might have called the higher orders of society.’ Martin recounts the sorry tale of Lady Flora Hastings, victim of Court gossip; Lord Eglinton, who tried and failed to revive the medieval tournament; the strange case of the St Cross Hospital Charity; and George Hudson, ‘Railway King’, whose rise and fall remains a story for our times.
Martin examines sources expertly and further explores how three of these scandals were transformed into fiction – by none less than Dickens, Disraeli and Trollope.
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