Scandalous Society: Passion and Celebrity in the Nineteenth Century Nick Foulkes
From his first appearance in London in 1821 until his death in Paris in 1852, Count D'Orsay dominated and scandalised the whole of European society. For three decades he was the ultimate arbiter in matters of taste and style - what D'Orsay wore today, society would wear tomorrow; what he ate, his sayings, his beliefs and manners were copied by the Establishment in both Paris and London. Simultaneously he enthralled Society with the thirty-year soap opera of his relationship with Lady Blessington whose daughter he married and with whose husband he was suspected of having had an affair. Bisexual, flamboyant, outrageous, D'Orsay was said to have ruined the cream of British aristocracy. He toured Europe on an enormous spending spree (using Lord Blessington's funds); paid homage to a dying Byron in Italy, and set up a racing course in Notting Hill and a gambling den in St James's. But the end of his life, his world of duels and dares, of extravagance and flamboyance was at an end. Victorian England had no time for him and neither did post-Revolutionary France. Embittered and frustrated, he died alone - the last of the dandies.