Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Wellington by Jane Wellesley Summary
A highly personal, anecdotal family memoir of the Wellington legacy. Jane Wellesley is a member of one of Britain's most illustrious families. Her father, the 8th Duke of Wellington, was born in 1915, a hundred years after the first Duke's momentous victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, but only a little over sixty years after the death of his celebrated ancestor. When the 'Iron Duke' died Queen Victoria wept with the nation, mourning the loss of 'the greatest man England has known'. A million and a half people swarmed London's streets to watch his cortege pass on its way to St Paul's. Few facts can now be added about the public man, but Jane's family memoir animates the First Duke as husband and father, as brother and several degrees of grandfather. Her journey through this richly compelling family history begins and ends with the first Duke, visiting the battlefield of Waterloo with her father to set her fascinating tale in motion. Through her parents she reaches back to earlier generations, weaving together characters and places, establishing connections, and exploring in greater depth than usual the Wellington women, who are often reduced to footnotes in conventional histories. She unearths memories, visits places from her parents' past, and discovers much about the lives of her grandparents and the generations before them. Most of us view the First Duke of Wellington as an iconic figure, whose name has been claimed by pubs, squares, streets, and, of course, rubber boots. In this highly personal account, the public man gives way to the private, and Wellington's legacy is seen through the eyes of those who have followed in his footsteps. Jane Wellesley triumphantly succeeds in wresting the Duke from his lonely column to reclaim him for his family, and so for the reader.