Adrian Tinniswood

Romance Story

Read My Heart: Dorothy Osborne and Sir William Temple – A Love Story in the Age of Revolution


HarperPress 416pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘Can there be a more Romance Story than ours?’ wrote Dorothy Osborne to William Temple. And reading this engaging biography of two of the seventeenth-century’s best-known lovers, you can see what she meant.

When they met and fell for each other in 1648, William was twenty and Dorothy twenty-one, and they were the archetypal star-crossed lovers. Dorothy was the daughter of an impoverished Royalist; William’s lawyer father had been jailed for his Parliamentarian sympathies. Dorothy’s family was determined that she should restore their fortunes by marrying money; the Temples were equally determined that William should do the same. William was sent abroad, where he managed, like so many seventeenth-century males, to reconcile his love for Dorothy with a string of casual sexual encounters. Meanwhile she was kept at the Osbornes’ family seat in Bedfordshire, looking after her ailing father, fending off more eligible suitors (including a deaf-mute) and coping with her unmarried brother Henry, whose possessive behaviour bordered on the abnormal. ‘I cannot but tell him sometimes’, she confided in William, ‘that sure he mistakes and sends letters [to me] that were meant to his mistress.’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,
    • Here's @epkaufm's Whiteshift, reviewed in this month's magazine by ,