Mrs Langtry - born a provincial in 1853, died rich and lonely in 1929 - was surrounded by scandal, luxary and gossip, but this new book goes beyond these outward trappings to lift the masks that Oscar Wilde, her friend and mentor, taught her to wear. It is not so much a life as a series of lives - each one distinct from the next - as Lillie reinvented herself. At its centre are the love letters written by Lillie to Arthur Jones, her childhood friend and secret lover, at the time of her fall from Society, her near-bankruptcy, and the birth of her illegitimate daughter at a hidden address in Paris. Laura Beatty captures exactly the spirit of the age, and reveals a passionate woman for whom the charge of opportunism was by no means the whole story.
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