My Darling Herriott is the story of a lively, cultured and well-bred woman, Henrietta St John, who was born in the last year of the seventeenth century, and lived until 1756. She was the much-loved half-sister of Harry, Viscount Bolingbroke, the high Tory who fled to France in 1715, at the Hanoverian succession, just before he was charged with treason, and also great-granddaughter of the Sir Oliver St John who was Lord Chief Justice in Cromwell’s day. Henrietta, who was known to Bolingbroke as ‘Herriott’, had the misfortune to make a loveless match, and was then banished to Barrells House, in the muddy depths of the Warwickshire countryside, after her husband, Robert Knight (later Lord Luxborough), suspected her of a dalliance with a poet. She insisted that the relationship was ‘platonick’, and although Knight himself took mistresses, he would not divorce her, yet denied her access to her two children and kept her on a tight rein financially. She was shunned by a number of the beau monde.
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'Auden ... was a monstrously sloppy and unhygienic housekeeper, who was once astounded to hear that not every adult male pees in the kitchen sink.'
In April's cover article, Kevin Jackson roots around the houses of writers and artists.