Georgette Heyer’s BATH TANGLE

July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am (books, british royalty, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Now, I was rather pleased to see the portrait of Spencer Compton (Emma’s cousin; later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton) gracing the cover of a recent edition of a Georgette Heyer novel. Even so, it was a bit of a curious find when, searching for Lady Smith-Burgess, I stumbled upon this serialization of Miss Heyer’s Bath Tangle in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY, 3rd installment of 6 in the issue dated 13 April 1955. Heyer mentions the rumor of the marriage of Lady Smith-Burgess to Lord Poulett!

heyer_smith burgess

Lady Smith-Burgess was the widow of Emma’s great uncle Sir John (brother to Emma’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park). Indeed the couple married in the summer of 1816, the time period for this novel.

But why on earth would Heyer chose this couple?

You can see through my new Smith&Gosling Timeline what was happening in the Smith family c1816.

Susannah Praed Smith also made note of the upcoming events in her diary:

Thurs:y 18th Mr Smith was obliged to go to Town on business – and we received a letter from Lady Smith Burges to tell us the day was fixed for her Marriage with Lord Poulett and to desire us all to be present at the ceremony = on account of its taking Place the 23d – we thought we had better go to London the day before – &

Mond:y 22d we left Bersted very early – got to Norfolk St before five OClock – found Mr Smith at home expecting us –

Tues:y 23d The Duke of Clarence dined with us – and in the Evening H: R H: went with us to Picadilly – as he was to give her Lady Burges away….

Ah, ha! The Duke of Clarence, of course, was the future King William IV; undoubtedly, their marriage was BIG news in 1816, and Heyer used it to advantage.

heyer_bath tangle

You can read the entire serialization at TROVE:


  1. Jess Farrant said,

    Hello, I wonder if you can help me.. I have some letters dated from 1812 to 1825. They are sent I think to Elizabeth Compton. But I have so many questions about how she fits in. I think she was the daughter of the Marquis of Northampton, at least they are mostly addressed to him at 13 Downing Street though they begin ‘My dearest Elizabeth’ . A couple are addressed to Castle Ashby. I would love to show them to you. In one there is mention of Emma.. Though they are really hard to decipher and I have only just started.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Dear Jess –

      Major O.M.G.!!!

      Letters would typically be addressed to the “man of the house” (in this case, Lady Elizabeth’s father). She married in the 1829 (to Charles Dickins), and would therefore be addressed with her maiden name — yes, Compton. Castle Ashby of course the family’s main estate.

      Can you send images? I can decipher, transcribe and send back to you.

      Will send same via email.


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