The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse❮BOOKS❯ ✻ The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse ✴ Author Piu Marie Eatwell – In 1898 an elderly widow Anna Maria Druce came to the British court with an astonishing reuest She stood among the overflowing pews of St Pauls Cathedral claiming that the merchant T C Druce her late Duke, His eBook ☆ In an elderly widow Anna Maria Druce came to the The Dead PDF/EPUB or British court with an astonishing reuest She stood among the overflowing pews Dead Duke, His PDF É of St Pauls Cathedral claiming that the merchant T C Druce her Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, MOBI :¿ late father in law had in truth been a secret identity for none other than the deceased and enormously wealthy th Duke of Portland Maintaining her composure amid growing agitation from the clutch of lawyers journalists and curious onlookers crowded into the church Mrs Druce claimed that Druce had been the duke's alter ego and that the duke had in faked the death of his middle class doppelgänger when he grew tired of the ruse Mrs Druce wanted the tomb unlocked and her father in law's coffin exhumed adamant that it would lie empty proving the falsehood and leaving her son to inherit the vast Portland estate From that fateful afternoon the lurid details of the Druce Portland case spilled forth seizing the attention of the British public for over a decadeAs the Victoria era gave way to the Edwardian the rise of sensationalist media blurred every fact into fiction and family secrets and fluid identities pushed class anxieties to new heights The th Duke of Portland had long been the victim of suspicion and scandalous rumors; an odd man with a fervent penchant for privacy he lived his days in precisely coordinated isolation in the dilapidated Welbeck Abbey estate He constructed elaborate underground passageways from one end of his home to the other and communicated with his household staff through letters TC Druce was a similarly mysterious figure and had always remained startlingly evasive about his origins; on his arrival in London he claimed to have sprung from the cloudsDrawing from revelations hidden within the Druce family tomb in the chilly confines of Highgate Cemetery Piu Marie Eatwell recounts one of the most drawn out sagas of the era in penetrating gripping detail From each thwarted investigation and wicked attempt to conceal evidence to the parade of peculiar figures announcing themselves as the rightful heir Eatwell paints a portentous portrait of England at the dawn of the Edwardian ageFew tales—be they by Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins The Importance of Being Earnest or The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde—could surpass the bizarre and deliciously dark twists and turns of the Druce Portland affair A mesmerizing tour through the tangled hierarchies of Edwardian England The Dead Duke His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse illuminates the lies deceit and hypocrisy practiced by genteel society at the time—and their inevitably sordid conseuences. This story of the British case surrounding the 5th Duke of Portland certainly illustrates that truth is stranger than fiction The unmarried eccentric and reclusive Duke died without issue in 1864 and the Dukedom passed to a distant cousin At the end of the 19th century a woman came forward who stated that her late father in law Mr Druce was in fact the above mentioned Duke and that the Duke had been leading a double life When the Duke tired of his alter ego he killed him off and that Mr Druce's grave was empty since he was buried as the Duke his true identity later in the century; therefore she claimed that her husband Mr Druce's son was the rightful heir to the Portland titles and estates She petitioned the court to have Mr Druces grave opened to prove that it was empty And thus it beganThe DrucePortland case was a cause celebre at the end of the Victorian Age and dragged on for years To make matters even confusing another man stepped forward who announced that he was the rightful heir as an out of wedlock son of the Duke and that the Druce case was balderdash It couldn't have been confusingThe author did some amazing research on this case and keeps as unbiased as possible in her reporting It was a legal nightmare and a very complicated state of affairs literally There are many characters to keep track of and this can sometimes be a problem for the reader but it is a minor complaint I certainly won't give away any of the results of the legal battle or the rather amazing postscript to the narrative It can be a slow read but an interesting one indeed I round up the rating to 35 stars Piu Marie Eatwell has chosen an extraordinary title and it suits her wonderfully written and researched telling of a true story that unfolded in late Victorian and early Edwardian England wonderfully wellIt’s readable it’s accessible and its utterly grippingIn 1898 a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father in law Thomas Charles Druce Her claim was that he had faked his death 1864 death because he had been the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland who had chosen to live a different life under a different nameUnder that name the Duke had worked as a furniture dealer married and raised a family Eventually he decided to end his double life and return to the ducal seat Welbeck Abbey in Worksop Nottinghamshire until his death some fifteen years laterThe Duke had never married a distant cousin inherited the title and everything that went with itAnna Maria said that her son was the true heir to the Portland estateIt sounds ludicrous but the truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction and there was much that made Anna Maria’s assertion sound entirely plausibleEach man could be described as eccentric The 5th Duke of Portland was reclusive he rarely went out in daylight hours and he had constructed a labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath his estate where he disappeared for extended periodsWitnesses testified that T C Druce looked exactly like the Duke and that he had never spoken of his early life; it emerged that the tastes and patterns of behaviour of the two men were strikingly similarOf course if Anna Maria’s claim was unfounded the executors of the Druce estate had simply to permit the exhumation to prove that T C Druce had died and that his body was in his tomb to bring all of the legal proceedings and all of the public interest and speculation to an endThey refused and so a long and complex legal battle that would become a cause célèbre beganPiu Marie Eatwell brings that case to life She is a wonderful guide to the times and to the places where her story will play out making it easy to understand how contemporary observers would have viewed the case with reference to newspaper reports to other cases they would have known novels they might have read and the legal framework and the world that they knew She introduces everyone who had a part to play carefully with their history their character their connection to the case; that made the human drama that played out fascinating relatable and so very engagingYou might think that you were reading the finest of Victorian sensation novels; such is the uality of the storytelling the drama of the plot and the sheer page turning uality of the whole thingThe uestion at the centre of the case – whether T C Druce and the 5th Duke of Portland were two men or one – was beautifully balanced and as the case twisted and turned as new claimants and new evidence emerged I could never uite make up my mind I knew that I could go away and look up the case and I so wanted to know what would happen but I resisted because I knew that this was too good a book to spoilI also knew that the answer to that uestion would not be the end; because whatever that answer was there would be uestionsThe resolution of the case comes before the end of the book and it as that point the author moves smoothly from dramatic storyteller to interested researcher offering answers to some of the unanswered uestions and suggesting what might be answers to othersThat was fascinating the depth of her interest was evident and I continued to think of everything I had read long after I put the book down This was an interesting read that I was looking forward to getting my hands on I'm being picky but there was a mistake on page 88 ueen Victoria did not die in March of 1901 it was in fact January 22nd of that year Having facts correct in non fiction is important to me when I'm reading it Piu Marie Eatwell has chosen one of the most fantastical of legal trials that spanned the late Victorian to the Edwardian period for another entry into the genre of turning well researched historical crimes into an accessible book for non academicsThe journey the author takes us through started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father in law Thomas Charles Druce Mr Druce had been a furniture dealer owning the Baker Street Bazaar a forerunner of what we know as a department store but Anna Maria believed that he had been the alter ego of the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland Her claims meant that Tomas Druce had faked his death in 1864 and spent the next fifteen living at the ducal seat Welbeck Abbey in Worksop NottinghamshireThis real life drama ended up spanning an entire decade after Anna Maria’s reuest for the grave in Highgate Cemetery being refused but with the discovery that Thomas Druce had been married before Both men were eccentrics Thomas Druce refused to reveal any details about his early life he had fixed habits and moved his family freuently from property to property whereas the Duke was rarely seen in public had an aversion to sunlight and spent his time at Welbeck Abbey constructing a series of tunnels and rooms underground Who can deny that fact is often stranger than fiction?The beauty of this book and others of its ilk like The Suspicion of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale or The Magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the Brides in the Bath by Jane Robins is that they give a real feel for the time as well as providing us with well researched historical evidence This tale is complex particularly as it is full of claim counter claim hypothesis and on the flip side lies and forgeries but the chapters are divided up to give background to the next part as well as the new revelations that kept the courts and the media busy A story running for so long had the public eager to find out the latest especially as the revelations uncovered some behaviour that was definitely against the morals of the timeThe story doesn’t end when the mystery is resolved the police were also kept busy following up some of the claims made including Inspector Dew who became known for his apprehension of Dr Crippen which meant for me this story had links to other true crimes committed in the same period presumably so few were the members of the newly formed CID that his career saw a wide variety of criminals Mentions are also made of the love of Sherlock Holmes but without it feeling like the author was trying to cram every detail into the bookApart from in the first chapter where the author gives us a potted history of the ownership of Welbeck Abbey the book couldn’t read less like a history book so well thought out is the structure making it an immensely readable and enjoyable piece of what must have been months of researchI’d like to thank Midas PR or allowing me to read a copy of this book for review purposes it will now stand next to the rest of my historical crime selection on my bookshelf The Dead Duke His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse was published by Head of Zeus in hardback in September 2014 and the author will be on tour in the UK during the summer of 2015 The premise of this book was interesting as were the bizarre events that unfolded However the reason I only rated it 2 stars was the writing This book needed editing significantly The author included so much irrelevant detail that it became mind numbing and tedious to read Every time a new character was brought into the plot there were pages about that character's history that didn't help at all with understanding the main events and in fact made things confusing Similarly the author would give every detail of an event that wasn't part of this plot but may have some similarities to illustrate that these things were possible While I understand the need to set the stage for legal precedence this could have been done in a much concise way so that it didn't detract from the main events This would have been an interesting book if about 23rds of it were edited out I probably wouldn't have finished it but for the fact that I was reading it for a book group discussion Rating this as a 3 but closer to a 35 The author deserves thanks and praise for researching and presenting this fascinating case A few strikes though; there were some mistakes that could have been easily caught such as a scandal that took place in the 1890s that several times is mentioned as having happened in the 1870s In addition one of the most obvious uestions is never even touched on that of genetic testing While it doesn’t prove everything it’s strange that the possibility of DNA research is not at play even if just to say that so and so have been asked but have refused HAVE they been asked? HAVE they refused? Thus a story that is bound to still leave some uestions unresolved is made opaue than necessary in my opinion Having said that I did not feel my time wasted This sounded like such an interesting book but I found myself basically trudging through it And it all felt like a pointless exercise by the end I did enjoy learning about late Victorian England but my main takeaway was that it was another example of how being ultra rich can lead some people to become weird recluses who spend vast uantities of money on the most ridiculous things like an underground ballroom I was pretty eager to read this book and the first 12 was really interesting But the second 12 was just boring material that felt like filler To uote Tim Gunn it needed an editing eye I was contacted by the lovely John over at The Last Word Review to review this brilliant novel by Piu Marie Eatwell and I am so pleased he did I thoroughly enjoyed The Dead Duke with its fascinating history and wonderfully engrossing storyThe extraordinary story of the Druce Portland affair one of the most notorious tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian erasIn 1897 an elderly widow Anna Maria Druce made a strange reuest of the London Ecclesiastical Court it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father in law TC DruceBehind her application lay a sensational claim that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland and that the – now dead – Duke had faked the death of his alter ego When opened Anna Maria contended Druce’s coffin would be found to be empty And her children therefore were heirs to the Portland millionsThe legal case that followed would last for ten years Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian EnglandThis era is one of my favourites mainly because of the mystery that shrouds it the secrets that lie behind Victorian manners and society Murderous governesses mad wives in attics wily prostitutes and of course dead dukes This story revolves around the 5th Duke of Portland and the insinuation that he was also a Mr TC Druce a businessman mainly living in London It all starts with one woman presenting to the court for permission to open Druce’s grave which would she insisted contain no body And so began one of the longest legal battles in historyEatwell provides us with an insight into another time and place meticulously researched and wonderfully written The Dead Duke is for all intents and purposes non fiction But it is also a story beautifully told and woven together by Eatwell’s fabulous prose I found myself lost between the pages for days puzzling out the mystery of The Dead Duke His Secret Wife and The Missing CorpseAbout the authorPiu Eatwell was born in India of mixed Anglo Indian descent She studied English at Oxford University graduating ‘summa cum laude’ with a starred First Class degree She subseuently worked as a lawyer and television producer for the BBC and other TV companies She now lives in France and writes full time on French themed subjects as well as true crime When not delving in history archives or writing about her adopted country Piu divides her time between London and Paris She is married with three childrenThe Dead Duke His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell is available on httpsdracaryawordpresscom20150 Could have been a fun book if not literally every other sentence was another tangent

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse
  • Hardcover
  • 352 pages
  • The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse
  • Piu Marie Eatwell
  • English
  • 16 November 2016
  • 9781631491238