The heroine of this intriguing first book by Chloë Schama was a Victorian adventuress, the inspiration behind a number of the 'sensation' novels of the 1860s, which had female characters who were often censured as being both immoral and unbelievable. Wild Romance is the true story of Theresa Longworth, whose legal battles provided material for Wilkie Collins's 1870 novel Man and Wife and whose appearance, personality and circumstances were used by Mary Braddon: her innocent blonde looks in Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) and her masculine conversation and behaviour in Aurora Floyd (1863). Theresa was quite as spirited and unconventional as any character in fiction.
Theresa, one of the daughters of a Manchester silk manufacturer, was educated at a convent school in France. On her way home to England in 1852 she met a dashing army officer on the channel ferry, and they spent the night talking on deck. William Yelverton was older,