Autograph MS letter of Elizabeth Craven to Her Son

The Elizabeth Craven Society has now acquired this original manuscript letter written by Elizabeth Craven in April 1802, from London, to the Comte de Perrégaux, a banker in Paris.

She describes herself devotedly looking after her son Keppel, who has suffered a riding accident. His horse crushed his leg against a tree, and although no bones were broken, he is so severely bruised and grazed that he has been laid up on a sofa for a fortnight.

Actually there was nothing Elizabeth enjoyed doing more than looking after Keppel. Her youngest child, he was now aged 23, and had travelled in Paris for a while after he left Oxford, but she loved him to return home to Brandenburgh House where she could molly-coddle him and warn him of every possible risk to his delicate health. She also loved him to invite his friends to stay and fill the house with high-spirited young people.

There are other surviving letters from Elizabeth Craven to this Parisian banker, who was probably the Margrave's banke…

The Ghost of Coombe Abbey

Coombe Abbey, the Warwickshire stately home owned for centuries by the Craven family, has always had a reputation for being haunted. 

The stories go back to its ancient origins as a Cistercian monastery in the 12th century. One ghost is supposed to be that of the Abbot Geoffrey, a monk who was murdered in the cloisters in 1345. And there have been other spectres reported too, including that of a stable-girl named Matilda who reputedly put a curse on the family. 

Nowadays the house has been converted into a hotel, but the stories linger, and staff and visitors have both told tales of the presence of a "poltergeist" - an invisible ghost who moves, or throws things. So this year, two mediums who call themselves The Shadow Warriors have visited Coombe Abbey to carry out a suitably-timed Hallowe'en investigation.

They claim to have communicated with Matilda, and stranger still, to have photographed a mysterious white-clad figure that looks like a woman, inside a room that was be…

Elizabeth Craven and Grace Dalrymple Elliott

We know for a fact that Elizabeth Craven was personally acquainted with Grace Dalrymple Elliott, the Scottish beauty who was famed in her lifetime for many reasons, not least for being at various times the mistress of the English Prince of Wales and of the French Duc d'Orléans.  If those two great connoisseurs of female beauty both paid homage to her, we can be certain that Grace was really very attractive and the portraits are not misleading.

In this portrait by Gainsborough, Grace emphasizes her magnolia-white skin by wearing a black ribbon tied under the chin and trailing down her long neck into the bosom.

Grace Elliott and Elizabeth Craven had a common acquaintance with George, Earl of Cholmondeley, the wealthy playboy who is said to have fathered one of Grace's children. They moved in the same circles. Yet Craven does not mention Grace Elliott in her Memoirs, nor does Grace Elliott mention Craven in hers. This leads to the conclusion that the two women probably did not li…

The Georgian Mile High Club, or Love in a Balloon

Who started the Mile High Club? Maybe you think that this is a twentieth century idea. Until recently, so did I. Aeroplanes were invented in the early twentieth century and quite soon after they were invented somebody came up with the idea of the Mile High Club. Sex in the stratosphere sounded like an original idea for adventurous people and so much more exciting than just a hotel bedroom. Of course that was before seat belts were made compulsory.

But it seems the Mile High Club was invented in Georgian times by the Earl of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chum-ley) one of the most notorious rakes and libertines of Elizabeth Craven's time. She undoubtedly knew him - she mentioned him in her Memoirs - and he mixed in the circles of the supreme rake, Georgie-Porgie the Prince of Wales.

Good-looking, clever and immensely wealthy, the young Lord Cholmondeley was notorious for womanizing and at one time was the lover of one of the most remarkable - and talked-about -  women of the era, Grace Da…

The Witch, and the Maid of Honour: A Lost Novel by Elizabeth Craven

The Witch and the Maid of Honour is a two-volume novel published privately and anonymously in London in 1799. It has a dedication to the Maids of Honour, signed "the Old Woman".


The writer of the following trifle requests the honour of presenting to you the History of a Lady who formerly held the same exalted situation that you hold now. Permit Isabella Markham to solicit your patronage for the Author, who has the honour of being,

                         With great respect,

                                        Your obedient humble Servant,

                                                                   The OLD WOMAN.

                                                                                    Maj i, 1799.

So, unless there is some hidden jest, whoever wrote it is apparently a woman. The Dedication is followed by a mock preface that refers in a light-hearted way to John Locke's Essay Upon the Human Understanding. Then the novel b…

Paperback edition of Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European

The book Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European, is now available in paperback:

To mark the availability of the paperback edition the publishers are offering a limited-time 30% discount for orders placed through their website. To obtain the discount please enter the following coupon code at checkout: VNCJFUDBHA
The offer expires in 60 days.

Elizabeth Craven: Myths and Fallacies

We've all come across articles we disagree with from time to time but some are just so inaccurate that the unwary public needs to be warned against them.

       Elisabetta Marino's article "Constructing the Other: Reconstructing Herself" - A Journey Through the Crimea to Constantinople by Lady Elizabeth Craven" in the book The West in Asia and Asia in the West: Essays on Transnational Interactions, edited by herself and Tanfer Emin Tunc (1)  is one of these. It is very inaccurate indeed.

      The blurb claims, "This collection of new essays examines the “transnational turn” in cultural studies between Asia and the West. Drawing on literature, history, culture, film and media studies, scholars from a range of disciplines explore the constructs of “Asia” and “the West” and their cultural collision."  Hmmm. Well, most of the collision I can find is with the facts.

       I will not carp too much about the assumption that Turkey is part of Asia - a…