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FORTUNE HUNTER: A German Prince in Regency England
Bibliophile price: £4.00
'As a German aristocrat in Regency London, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau engaged in legendary exploits. His taste for fine living was the talk of the town, his pursuits of rich heiresses equally so and throughout he behaved like the living antithesis of the stereotypical stiff Prussian nobleman. To call his adventures colourful would be a gross understatement.' - Thomas Keilinger, Die Welt. Two decades after Waterloo marked the great age of fortune hunters in England and each year brought a new influx of impecunious Continental noblemen to the world's richest country, and the more brides they carried off, the more alarmed society became. Today remembered as Germany's finest landscape gardener, Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871) turned his estate into a magnificent park which came close to bankrupting him. To save his legacy his wife Lucie devised an unusual plan - they would divorce so that Pückler could marry an heiress who could finance further landscaping and, after a decent interval, be cajoled into accepting Lucie's continued residence. Drawing on daily letters sent from England to his ex-wife and other manuscript sources from the Pückler Archive in Brandenburg, Bowman gives accounts of the courtships with the daughters of a physician, an admiral, a Scottish baronet, an East India Company stockholder and a retail jeweller. The story is enriched with details of his social life among the resident diplomats, his gambling and money troubles, his love affairs with a French seamstress and a German opera singer, and the hours he spent with capital's prostitutes. Pückler is a wry observer of the ball, country house life and dining rituals of exclusive society and an indefatigable tourist seeking out the most beautiful sights and portraying the manners and customs of all classes in England. He was brought into contact with such luminaries as Walter Scott, Beau Brummell and John Nash, and powerful enemies conspired against him. The object of many rumours and caricatures, the prince sticks doggedly to his task for nearly two years when England filled his coffers in the most unexpected way on a new career. 232pp in paperback, 16 pages of mainly colour plates including a wicked colour cartoon.

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