Cover image for The first Lady Diana : the life of Lady Diana Spencer, 1710-1735
The first Lady Diana : the life of Lady Diana Spencer, 1710-1735
Massey, Victoria.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : London House, 1999.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA483.R87 M37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Lady Diana Spencer, of Althorp and London, tall and beautiful, a lover of music and the arts, treasured by every young aristocrat, earmarked for marriage to the Prince of Wales, haunted by the death of loved ones, and destined to die at a tragically early age. But this Lady Diana, in a life which was uncannily similar to the most recent holder of her title, lived nearly 300 years ago. In this entertaining and informative biography the reader watches Lady Diana grow up, follows her education, her training for the aristocracy and shares her passion for art and music. Her marriage to Lord John Russell; their elevation to the title of Duke and Duchess of Bedford; the sad death of Lady Dianas first child, and her subsequent miscarriages; her early death are all chronicled in this deeply researched and empathetic biography. This first Lady Diana was a captivating, caring beauty whose untimely death, after such a short, vivacious life, was deeply mourned. Readers will be as fascinated with the life of Diana of the early 1700s as they were with the late Princess of Wales and a study of this life can be the means by which many will be able to appreciate the history of eighteenth-century Britain.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Two new books are sure to appeal to royal watchers and readers fascinated with the late Princess Diana and her family. Massey's painstaking research into the brief life of a relatively minor member of the Spencer clan has revealed several eerie, if essentially vague, similarities between the first Lady Diana and her contemporary namesake. In addition to bearing a striking physical resemblance to one another, both Diana's lived at Althorp as children, both lost their mothers at age six, one through death, the other through divorce, both were touted as possible mates for the prince of Wales, and both died tragically young. To the author's credit she moves quickly beyond such superficialities, placing her primary subject firmly into historical context. What eventually emerges is a poignant portrait of a delightful early-eighteenth-century gentlewoman subject to the social mores and strictures of her own time and her own privileged social class. Definitely the meatier selection, Blood Royal traces the roots of the Spencer clan back to the fourteenth century. Renowned for their shrewd matchmaking efforts, the Spencer's steadily gained wealth, power, and prestige through a series of well-calculated marriages. Individual biographical sketches of particularly quirky, colorful, or distinctive Spencers are provided. This robust family history naturally culminates in their most significant dynastic coup: the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to the prince of Wales and the birth of the heir to the British throne. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

While many have been captivated by the story of Diana, Princess of Wales, few may realize that her life paralleled in notable ways that of an ancestor who bore the same name. Like her famous 20th-century namesake, the 18th-century Lady Diana Spencer was born into a prominent family of British aristocrats, made a brilliant marriage and died young. Massey (an artist and author and illustrator of girls' stories) draws on a wealth of letters and historical documents to reconstruct in detail the life of "dear little Di" (as her family called her, although she grew to be quite tall). Orphaned young, Diana was taken in and raised by her grandmother, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who saw to it that she was well married at the then late age of 21 to the Duke of Bedford. One of the most notorious figures of the day, the duchess was tremendously rich, politically powerful and brashly outspoken, and by this account, Diana grew up very much in her shadow--so much so that, despite Massey's efforts to keep her narrative centered on its ostensible subject, it is actually Sarah who becomes its most compelling and well-rounded character. Diana herself remains an enigma: described as warm-hearted and generous by some contemporaries and vain and insincere by others, she apparently died (at 25, of tuberculosis) before developing much of a personality in her own right. Since Massey commendably refuses to embellish upon the known facts of Diana's life by surmising her thoughts and feelings, she produces the story of an era in the history of the British aristocracy rather than of an individual. Photos. (Feb.) FYI: Another flamboyant 18th-century relative of Diana, Princess of Wales, is chronicled in Amanda Foreman's Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire (1999). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved