A Scandalous Life (Richard Cohen Books, London) Publication date 1995 Hardback
ISBN 1 86066 001 0
A Scandalous Life (Fourth Estate, London) Publication date 1996 Paperback
ISBN 1 85702 469 9
Rebel Heart (W.W. Norton, New York) Publication date 1995 Hardback
ISBN 0 39303 895 5
Jane Digby has been called 'one of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century'. A celebrated beauty, she was married at seventeen to Lord Ellenborough (later Viceroy of India). He was twice her age and within a few years she left him for an Austrian prince resulting in one of England's most scandalous divorces. When the Prince deserted her she became the mistress and confidante of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, marrying for convenience a German baron who worshipped her. Subsequently she fell in love with a young Greek count who fought her husband in a duel while eloping with her.
After discovering that her Greek husband was unfaithful, and heartbroken at the death of her six-year-old son, she became an inveterate traveller in the Orient. For a time she became the mistress of an Albanian general and was thrilled to share his rough outdoor life as queen of his brigand army, living in caves, riding fiery Arab horses and hunting game in the mountains for food; until she found that he too was unfaithful and left him on the spot.
Middle-aged but still stunningly beautiful, and vowing to renounce men, she headed for Syria where she met and married the love of her life, a Bedouin nobleman, Sheikh Medjuel el Mezrab who was twenty years her junior.
During the remainder of her life she adopted for six months of each year the exotic but uniquely harsh existence of a desert nomad living in the famous black goathair tents of Arabia; the remaining months she spent in the splendid palace she built for herself and Medjuel in Damascus. As wife to the Sheikh and mother to his tribe this passionate woman found not only genuine fulfilment but further adventures, all of which she committed each year to her diary
Bestselling biographer Mary S Lovell has produced from these diaries not only a sympathetic and dramatic portrait of a rare woman but a fascinating glimpse into the centuries-old tradition of the Bedouin that is now almost lost.
What the reviewers said:
"Enthralling tale of a nineteenth century beauty whose heart - and hormones - ruled her head."
Harpers and Queen.
"A rollicking good tale. Mary S. Lovell has researched widely and gves a rich picture of this remarkable women's life."
"If ever there was a female equivalent of Byron, Lady Jane Digby was she ... hugely entertaining"
"Few romantic novels could convincingly tell so astonishing a story."
Good Book Guide.