The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Having entered the world on the eighteenth birthday of the soon-to-be-Queen Victoria, Georgina Thomas felt herself “born to greatness.” Indeed, her parents, snobs of staggering proportions despite their relative poverty and lack of social position, continually if unlovingly impressed upon their otherwise ordinary daughter (short, plump, singularly without humor) the extraordinary nature of her destiny. That she never questioned this sense of her superiority and uniqueness throughout the course of seventy-seven turbulent and , yes, disastrous years certainly says something about her tenacity and will, but less about any finer sense of self-awareness. Never mind that her grandeur consisted principally of a galloping vanity, breathtaking arrogance, and unrelenting contentiousness—she would not be deterred; she would have her fame. And she got it, though it was of a species—notoriety and scandal—most people would prefer not to have.

When she rejected a suitable prospect and impulsively married the penniless but romantic Hussar, Harry Weldon, it seemed like a typically rash error in judgment, an act guaranteed to keep Georgina out of the social sphere she felt entitled to. And in fact the first years of this comically mismatched couple’s life together were a patchwork of roughing it abroad and scraping by at home. But a turn in their fortunes brought them to London and to Tavistock House, once the residence of Charles Dickens, where a dramatic new...

(The entire section is 559 words.)