The spectacle of title-hungry women climbing up the greasy pole of society – and sliding right down – retains its fascination. Few ascended and descended as dramatically as Margaret Whigham, a legendary “society beauty” who bagged a duke only to find the prize not worth having. The duke, Lyndsy Spence writes in The Grit in the Pearl: The Scandalous life of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (History Press, £20; Tablet price £18) was a mean drunk, after her money.
Speed reading: Marcus Tanner witnesses three falls from grace
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