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Val Scully

My Name is Eleanor

Imagine being the only child of a powerful man: he adores you and wants only the best for you.  In a time when girls are raised to be decorative and submissive, he brings you the finest tutors, boasts of your intelligence, encourages you to be strong and healthy, independent and ambitious.  He wants for you the life you would have had if you'd been a boy.  But then he dies, leaving you bereft and making you the richest heiress in England when you are barely out of childhood.

Your mother, grief-stricken, takes you from your idyllic rural estate in the north and launches you on London society to attract an aristocratic husband. The earl you marry gets all your lands and money and expects a dutiful, submissive wife. You give him five children in quick succession and then he dies unexpectedly.  Suddenly, you regain all your estates and income:  at last you have the freedom to pursue your interests and live an independent life.

But your wealth and independence are resented: your high profile brings you to the attention of a charismatic Irish adventurer, a skilful con man who tricks you into marriage while appearing to be dying of wounds suffered in a duel fought in your honour. Having gained possession of your life and everything you own, he proceeds to beat and abuse you, isolate and shame you.  In a world where a man's right to physically chastise his wife is enshrined in law, where even the wife of a king can be locked up in an asylum, how will you survive?

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Read about the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes