Hester Thrale's relationship with Dr Johnson has been the subject of endless speculation. She was his sparring partner, his most intimate confidante, his 'Dear Mistress', and one of the most remarkable women of her time.Hester Salusbury was a child prodigy. Later, as Hester Thrale, her wit, learning and vivacity would attract the greats of the day, Joshua Reynolds, Fanny Burney, Boswell, David Garrick and Edmund Burke to the household at Streatham Park.
She published to great popularity and acclaim on Johnson, irritating the hell out of Boswell, and remains one of our most perceptive sources. One of our first female historians, a feminist without knowing it, she also broke new ground in politics and business.
When her husband died, rumours flew that she'd wed Johnson. Instead, she ran off with an Italian music teacher. The scandal consumed London society -- and her relationship with her daughters. But Hester was passionately in love (it was a love that nearly killed her).
This is a brightly lit portrait of an exceptional woman whose life, loves and letters make a vivid and important contribution to our understanding of Georgian England.
Praise for Ian McIntyre's Dirt &; Deity: A Life of Robert Burns
'If you read Burns, then buy this. If you don't read Burns, then start.' Economist
'A shrewd, clear, comprehensive and wonderfully readable portrait of Burns as fallible man and gifted poet.' A.C. Grayling, Financial Times
For Joshua Reynolds:
'Stunning and richly entertaining...superlative. Philip Hensher<i style="font-weight: bold">, The Times.