Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire Teacher’s Guide

By Amanda Foreman

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Georgiana emerged into the world with considerable poise and charm, but she was desperately needy and easily manipulated. How much can her lack of emotional balance be attributed to her mother, Lady Spencer’s, influence?

2. The Duke of Devonshire was a shy man who had hardly known his parents. He craved affection but did not know how to receive or give it. Was his marriage to Georgiana doomed from the start?

3. Georgiana clearly adored the attention of the press. How much of her celebrity was self-created and how much was foisted upon her because of her style and status?

4. Lady Elizabeth Foster was considered to be so "artificial, it almost seemed natural." Was her friendship for Georgiana pure calculation, or did she share Georgiana’s feelings?

5. By 1782 Georgiana had become the most powerful woman in the Whig party. Do you think she wanted power for herself?

6. After her triumph at the Westminster election in 1784, Georgiana wrote, I hate myself " She displayed classic symptoms of bulimia; she resorted to alcohol and drugs to find relief-, and, worst of all, she became a gambling addict. Was this behavior a form of protest against her unhappy marriage, an expression of anger against a society that favored men over women, the result of childhood trauma, a demonstration of character weakness, or an amalgamation of all of these?

7. When Fanny Burney met Georgiana she assumed that blackmail had to be at the heart of Georgiana’s continuing friendship with Bess. What kept the two women together by the 1790s?

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