Margaret the First: A Biography of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, 1623-1673
Published: December 1957© 1957
272 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.53 in, glossy B&W plates throughout
Margaret Cavendish was one of the most original, loveable and eccentric of women writers. Pepys called her "mad, ridiculous, and conceited" but when she paid her famous visit to London in 1667 he ran all over town to see her. And many of her other contemporaries were no less fascinated. Posterity has continued to feel the attraction; to her many admirers she has always been "the incomparable Princess," and Lamb enthusiastically praised her as "the thrice noble, chase, and virtuous—but again somewhat fantastical, and original-brain'd, generous Margaret Newcastle."
This biography is the first full-length study entirely devoted to the Duchess of Newcastle. It shows Margaret's metamorphosis from an imaginative, bashful child into a romantic public figure, and how, after living at home among a family unusual in its loyalties, she served as lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria during the Civil War and in exile married William Cavendish, the "Loyal" Duke of Newcastle, before emerging as the first woman writer of her times—"Margaret the First" as she wished to be known.
Her poetry, fiction, drama and natural philosophy, along with her many other writings, are treated as facets of her extraordinary personality delightful in itself and also valuable as an illustration of the spirit of the age. The illustrations are unusually good and include a fine unpublished portrait of the Duchess, a photo of her effigy in Westminster Abbey and reproductions of several of the ornate engraved title-pages of her works.
"...compiled with sympathetic and attentive care for Margaret's life and writings...a full and thoughtful picture." Times Literary Supplement
"Mr. Douglas Grant has drawn a full-length portrait of this eccentric. It is an excellent survey, in which narrative is skillfully blended with commentary and sympathy with sense."
Harold Nicolson, the Observer
"It is refreshing to pass a few hours with so original a figure; and this Mr. Grant enables us very pleasantly to do in his humane and well-documented study." The Times