Sir Winston Churchill's paternal grandmother and the mother of Randolph Churchill, the 7th Duchess of Marlborough, has been a slight figure in many other people's biographies yet her own story as a member of a remarkable family has never been fully told, until now.
Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest-Stewart's family background, as well as her own life, is steeped in great historical names and occasions. She was the eldest daughter of the 3rd Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry, two well-known, glamorous individuals: her father was a military hero, second in command to Wellington in the Napoleonic wars, and her mother one of the wealthiest women in England. Her godfather was the Duke of Wellington, her uncle Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary, Queen Victoria was a lifelong personal friend and contemporary and her political circle included both Disraeli and Gladstone. Tsar Alexander I of Russia was a mysterious, romantic figure among the shadows of her childhood.
Frances' arrival at Blenheim Palace in 1843 as the bride of John Winston, 7th Marquess of Blandford resulted in the great ancestral seat's regeneration as a family home, as a social and political focus for the life of the nation and for the neighbourhood of Woodstock in Oxfordshire. Frances the Duchess gave loyal support not only to her husband but also her younger son, Randolph, in his political career, and became a stable and abiding influence on her famous grandson, Winston Churchill, shaping his character, ambitions and later achievements. Her own crowning achievement, fully and dramatically told in this book, is her humanity, leadership and skill, through her Famine Relief Committtee, in averting the effects of the Irish potato famine of 1879, which threatened to repeat the wholesale loss of life of the famine of the 1840s, when she was Vicereine of Ireland.
Margaret Elizabeth Forster has found new, original material and unpublished family photographs from the Marlborough personal archives to recount this absorbing, remarkable biography and to restore a most gracious woman to her proper place at Blenheim. AUTHOR: Margaret Elizabeth Forster is married to the archivist at Blenheim Palace, who is continuing to work on the Duke of Marlborough's personal family archives. The author has been granted exclusive access to the Blenheim archives for her book. 30 b/w illustrations