Mistress of the Elgin Marbles
A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of ElginBook - 2004
An exploration of the British aristocracy during the Romantic era as reflected by the life of Mary Nisbet, the Countess of Elgin, discusses her history-making work as the Ambassador Extraordinaire to the Ottoman Empire.
Filled with romance, danger, and scandal, Mistress of the Elgin Marbles is the intriguing story of Mary Nisbet, the Countess of Elgin -- one of the most influential women of the Romantic era whose exploits enriched world culture immeasurably. The richest heiress in Scotland and the wife of accomplished diplomat Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, she traveled to Turkey when Elgin was appointed the Ambassador Extraordinaire to the Ottoman Empire -- a journey that would change history.
Interweaving extensive details gleaned from primary sources and excerpts from the countess's own letters, Susan Nagel draws a vivid portrait of this formidable woman who helped bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East, financed the removal and safe passage to England of classical marbles from the Parthenon, and struck a deal with Napoleon that no politician could have accomplished. Yet, as Nagel shows, those achievements were overshadowed by scandal when Mary's passionate affair with her husband's best friend flamed into the most lurid and salacious divorce trial in London's history. Lively and informative, this is an engrossing story of an astonishing woman who both defined and shaped an era.
Though the Earl of Elgin and his artists are blamed for stealing the statues from the Parthenon, it was his 21-year-old bride Mary (1777-1855) who financed the project; cajoled a captain to carry them back to England on a British naval vessel, directly disobeying Admiral Nelson who had ordered all ships ready for battle; and maybe even seduced the Ottoman sultan Selim III into letting her take them. These are among the revelations that Nagel (humanities, Marymount Manhattan College) makes in her biography. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An exploration of the British aristocracy during the Romantic era as reflected by the life of Mary Nisbet, the Countess of Elgin, discusses her history-making work as the Ambassador Extraordinaire to the Ottoman Empire, from her efforts to bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East to her safe removal of classical marbles from the Parthenon.