Author(s): Lyndsy Spence
Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (1912-1993) was an international celebrity in her youth, adored and observed by millions. But in 1963, the year of the Profumo Affair, the 11th Duke of Argyll shocked the country when he alleged that his adulterous wife had slept with over eighty men behind his back. He produced, as his evidence, a set of sexually explicit Polaroid photographs and explosive love letters. The duke won a divorce, but this had a dramatic effect on Margaret's life. On the verge of financial destitution, she fell from grace and was abandoned by most of her friends prior to her death in a nursing home in Pimlico in 1993. Lyndsy Spence tells a tragic story of the life and downfall of this fascinatingly complex woman, and shows how she fell victim to a cruel husband, harsh social mores and an unforgiving class. It uses hitherto unpublished sources, including taped conversations, an unexpurgated transcript of her divorce trial, interviews and letters. The Grit in the Pearl is a meticulously researched and powerful biography, which acts as a potent lens on various themes in the last century: fame, privacy, the media, sex, power, and relationships between classes.