Friday, December 16, 2011

Women in History--Daisy Brooke, Countess of Warwick

Daisy Brooke,nee Frances Evelyn Maynard, was born at Easton Lodge, with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth.  She was the darling of the "Marlborough Set" and conducted the most notorious love affair with the Prince of Wales, from 1889 to about 1897, for almost 10 years.  Daisy was a brilliant, beautiful socialite who married well--she married Francis Grenville (Lord Brooke), heir of the Earl of Warwick in 1881.  Like all of the "Marlborough Set", marital fidelity was not an issue, especially concerning the Prince of Wales.

Daisy had 3 daughters in the first four years of her marriage to Lord Brooke.  She also had a son, 17 years into her marriage, in the year 1898, shortly after the cessation of her affair with the Prince of Wales.

Her love affairs were notorious, even amongst the wealthy, titled and morally corrupt Marlborough set.  She was not discrete:  her nickname was, "the babbling Brooke", simply because she could not resist bragging about her titled conquests, among them not only Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, but also Edward VII, the then-King of England.

Lord Brooke remained married to Daisy through all this.  In 1893, his father died, and the family moved to Warwick castle; Lord Brooke had also succeeded to the title of the Earl of Warwick.

Daisy's lifestyle was lavish, beyond even the usual standards for the titled and privileged during that period.  She spent money lavishly, foolishly, on clothes and furs and jewels and entertainments and balls and dinners and pearls dissolved in champagne...all the costly fripperies, and some she invented herself.  She had no money sense at all.

Daisy Brooke (Grenville) also became, very oddly, a rabid socialist towards the end of her affair with the Prince of Wales, and it is for that reason that the affair ended.

Daisy was much influenced by a socialist writer named Robert Blatchford; she joined the Social Democratic Federation, a political organization of Socialist Democrats, in 1904.

Daisy also spent money on the cause:  she supported in particular its campaign for free meals for schoolchildren.

Daisy founded a needlework school at Easton in Essex; also, brilliantly, the Studley Agricultural College for Women.

Daisy created "Daisy's Folly" amongst the lavish gardens at Easton Lodge, where she also kept a small zoo.

The novelist H.G. Wells was a tenant of her estate at one time.  Daisy was running into money trouble.

She attempted to blackmail the royals by selling the love letters to the press.  That worked, to some extent:  she received 64,000 pounds from Buckingham Palace NOT to publish the "darling Daisy wife" letters from Bertie, aka, the Prince of Wales, which almost went to an American publisher.

It wasn't enough to erase her debts, and she couldn't seem to stop spending.  The long-suffering and many-times-cuckolded Earl of Warwick died in 1924, on the verge of bankruptcy, and Daisy's assets were just about nothing.

Daisy Brooke (Grenville) said:

     "When they write my obituary notice, it is the record of a woman who fervidly designed many things for the betterment of human lives, while the "Green Gods" sat smiling at the puny efforts of an imprisoned soul trying to find a way of escape."

Daisy died in 1938 on her beloved Easton Lodge estate, broke, an eccentric recluse, and all but forgotten by a society that had moved on.

Requiescat in pace