Random Amazon (US) Ebook Sale Alert!

Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin - Susan Nagel

As usual, price is probably only for the US website.

And as usual, this was on my price watch email alert and I have no idea where I found a recommendation - so check out a sample first.


Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin

by Susan Nagel

Current price: $1.99 (again, US website)

Amazon link


Background wikipedia link: Mary Nisbet

I note she was divorced by her husband in 1808 and went on to remarry, so there's a story there. Which isn't really told in the wikipedia. Which might be a way I got the book on my list - that kind of "this bit of history left out" usually catches my eye.


Why you may have heard the name bandied about - her husband, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin was the one who carted off what are now called the Elgin Marbles.

Note that there's a bit more about the divorce on Bruce's wiki - tucked in under Later Career - than Nisbet's. Interesting.


And because wikipedia pages can change, oh why not, I'll quote:

Mary Nisbet/Bruce:, under Second Marriage:

"Bruce divorced Nesbit in either 1807 or 1808, and went on to marry Robert Ferguson of Raith (1777–1846)."


And under footnote 3:

"...The deceased, George Charles Constantine Lord Bruce, who was eldest son of the Earl of Elgin, by his first marriage with Miss Nisbet, which marriage was dissolved by act of Parliament in 1808, was born the 5th of April, 1800."


Thomas Bruce, under Later Career:

"Elgin, who had been 'detained' in France after the rupture of the peace of Amiens, returned to Britain in 1806. Finding that he could not get the British Museum to pay what he was asking for the marbles, Elgin sued his wife's lover for an appropriately high sum. He divorced Mary, for adultery, by legal actions in 1807 and 1808 in the English and Scottish courts—and by act of parliament—which caused much public scandal. Then, on 21 September 1810, he married Elizabeth (1790–1860), youngest daughter of James Townsend Oswald of Dunnikier. Elgin moved to the European continent."


And under Family:

"After their marriage ended in divorce Mary later married Robert Ferguson of Raith (1777–1846) who had been cited in the divorce."


It's kind of amazing how little information there is considering what a BIG deal it was to get divorced in 1808, especially for adultery.


Oh and yes, I had to buy the book. If you look on Nisbet's wiki page you'll see how it stands alone as the only bio in the bibliography. And there are other interesting tidbits in her bio like:


"In November, with the permission of the Grand Vizier, she became the first woman to attend a political Ottoman ceremony. Despite being five months pregnant she was required to dress as a man."


And the source for that sentence? This biography.