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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Vita Sackville-West and Lady Diana Cooper are among the wellknown wives of diplomats who represented Britain in the far-flung corners of the globe. Yet, despite serving such crucial roles, the vast majority of these women are entirely unknown to history. Who was Mrs Vigor, gossiping from St Petersburg in the 1730s about the intrigues of the imperial court, or Miss Tully, incarcerated in the British consulate in famine-torn Tripoli on the eve of the French Revolution?
Drawing on letters, private journals and memoirs, as well as contemporary oral history, Katie Hickman explores not only the public pomp and glamour of diplomatic life, but also the most intimate, private face of this most fascinating and rays mysterious world. Far from leading pampered lives of luxury and privilege, many women endured harsh, isolated circumstances that they continuously met with remarkable resourcefulness and strength: journeys could take many months to complete, medical facilities were often primitive or nonexistent and young children frequently died due to the conditions, not to mention wars, kidnappings and assassination attempts.
Katie Hickman balances stories of high drama with detailed recollections of domestic life in which women faced such daily challenges as getting their husbands' shirt fronts suitably boiled and starched in the wilds of Xinkiang or finding the right size bulletproof vest in which to do the gardening in Beirut. Touching on the lives of nearly a hundreddiplomatic wives (as well as sisters and daughters), "Daughters of Britannia" is a brilliant and compelling account of more than three centuries of British diplomacy as seen through the eyes of some of its most intrepid but least heralded participants.
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