Lily Price Hamersley became, with her 1888 marriage to the eighth Duke of Marlborough, the highest-ranking American peeress in England and the first American duchess in fifty years. The duke was one of three distinguished, but, alas, short-lived husbands of this beauty from Troy, New York. Her first husband, Louis Hamersley, was a patrician New Yorker who left her an affluent widow at the age of twenty-eight. Her second was the brilliant but "wicked," divorced, and socially outcast Duke of Marlborough—brother-in-law to Jennie Churchill, uncle to Winston, and father to the first husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt. Lily's third choice was an ebullient Anglo-Irish lord, William de la Poer Beresford, a horseracing enthusiast whose popularity has been likened to that of modern film stars. In the course of a surprising life, Lily knew triumph and heartbreak while proving herself a woman of self-confidence, optimism, and remarkable resilience. Lily’s “three marriages, her confident ease in moving into impossibly complicated and exalted social realms, and her decades of dealing with legal complexities related to wills, estates, and trusts make her story read like a newly discovered Edith Wharton novel. The history of the fairytale years when Lily became the Duchess of Marlborough and a dear friend of Winston Churchill is immensely readable and fascinating." Eric Homberger, emeritus professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia, and author of Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age "This entrancing portrait of a conventional American girl who made three extraordinary marriages draws on society papers and women's magazines as well as archives, court records and private papers to create a lively and vivid picture of social elites on both sides of the Atlantic during the late nineteenth century." Sally Mitchell, author of Daily Life in Victorian England and The New Girl: Girls' Culture in England, 1880-1915
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