Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Wedlock

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The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore

by Wendy Moore

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  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 400 pages
    Mar 2010, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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Beyond the Book

Women and Botany
Before her husband forbade her from pursuing any hobbies or interests, Mary Eleanor Bowes devoted considerable time to studying botany and overseeing the gardens at her family estates. She even became the patron of Scottish naturalist William Paterson, funding his expedition to South Africa, from where he brought native plant specimens as well as the first giraffe remains ever seen in England. Unfortunately for Paterson, his scientific accomplishments were obscured by the debt that he found himself in when Stoney/Bowes cut off the funds that Mary had promised; the fortune hunter thus added "impeding scientific progress" to his list of iniquities.

In a strange parallel, another 18th century British botanical enthusiast, Mary Delany (1700-1788) found herself, at the age of 16, coerced into marrying an alcoholic squire in his 60s and living the next 10 years in quiet desperation. Although her husband did not display the flagrantly evil traits of Stoney/Bowes and ...

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