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Business Ventures

A Duke for Diana’s Elegant Occasions isn’t as farfetched as you might think. Although it was frowned upon for aristocratic women to be “in trade,” certain types of business ventures were tolerated in such ladies. A well-known one was hiring oneself out to “sponsor” a young lady for her debut. Normally, a woman’s mother or other close relative presented her at the Queen’s drawing room for the first time. But what if the young lady is an orphan and all her female relations are dead or not interested? Then she could actually hire a respectable lady of rank to present her. I just chose to . . . expand the practice a bit. Of course, there were the usual impoverished ladies who became governesses or companions, but there were also ladies who supported themselves by designing for Wedgwood (Lady Templeton, Lady Diana Beauclerk), along with novelists (lots of those), artists (a surprising number of those), and even a sculptor or two. I stumble across them so often that I keep a list!