A poor gamble: The disastrous elopement of the "Pocket Venus" (Lady Florence Paget)

Catherine Layton

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

Abstract

Lady Florence Paget “came out” in 1859 but received little press coverage until 1863 when it became known that eligible young men in Court circles dubbed her “the Pocket Venus.” Scandal erupted when she eloped with a notorious playboy, the Marquis of Hastings. Her intended (Henry Chaplin, another libertine) was a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Her relationships rapidly transformed into a vendetta and bankruptcies that led to untimely deaths. The drama played out on the racecourse; once the bridal race was run, horse racing, far more perilous than the roulette table, took over completely. Her position was representative of the lives of several brides in her social circle, where she was nothing more than another “manly pastime,” more akin to a fine thoroughbred than a companion. All the while, the public scandal of gambling centered on the lifestyle of the men who could afford it, ruining them—as Charlotte de Rothschild put it—“body and soul, mind and purse.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Victorian Scandals in Literature and Culture
EditorsBrenda Ayres, Sarah E. Maier
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Chapter13
Pages273-290
Number of pages18
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003286011
ISBN (Print)9781032259963, 9781032374147
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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