Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dance 'the Albatross!'

On a lighter note, it seems that no one really understood The Ancient Mariner when it came out.

Most of the people who bought the first edition were sailors, thinking it was a naval song book.


  1. Hey, it's Stephenie again - the Pitt fan girl:

    I apologise for this unrelated question to your most current post, but as you seem like a very knowledgable lady on Mr Pitt, I wanted to ask you a question. I've read that Pitt didn't come out of his rooms for several days after his one known "love affair" (if one can call it that) ended with Eleanor Eden. Do you think he loved her, or at least certainly had feelings for her? Also, do you think he truly died a virgin at 46? I just wanted to know your thoughts. Thanks :)

  2. Ah, the famous Eleanor Eden case. On January 20, Pitt sent a letter to her father explaining, "I am compelled to say that I find the obstacles to it decisive and insurmountable." One very popular theory for the insurmountable obstacle is that Pitt was secretly homosexual, given that all his close relationships were with men and that he behaved very oddly when his protege Canning was married. However, I've always thought that Pitt was more busy and asexual than closeted. I mean, it is a possibility, but I always theorized that his emotional development more-or-less stopped once he became prime minister. His most important adult relationships all seem to have been formed when he was at university.

    His niece, his best biographer, is a little ambivalent about this period of his life (understandably so, as, if Pitt had married, she would have lost her position) and gives a lot of different reasons as to why Pitt had not married. The one that strikes me as the most believable, is when Pitt, perhaps being a little facetious, says that he is simply too busy for a wife. It implies that a) the sexual relationship didn't occur to him and b) that he really was too busy (which is true-- he got up around 11 am and worked until 3am every day). I'm also inclined to agree with William Hague and say that Pitt enjoyed Eleanor Eden's company and may have had romantic feelings for her, but he didn't have sexual ones for her. On the LGBTQA etc scale, I am inclined to say Pitt was asexual and probably did die a virgin because it simply didn't interest him, or he felt he had better things to do.

    What are your thoughts on the matter?

    1. Hi Elyse

      I'm researching a TV history documentary about the Duke of Wellington, and am really interested in a post you wrote on the Duke.


      If you have a moment would you be able to drop me a line?

      Many thanks!

      Nick Tanner

  3. At the risk of being rare and taking a romantic (probably the first) and somewhat tragic interpretation of Pitt's sexuality and lack of a known love life, I'd say that Pitt was either heterosexual or bisexual, and that he sacrificed his own romantic life in favour of his services to his country. It seems to me that Pitt hada very powerful, almost extraordinary, sense of personal duty and integrity.

    He was also a very private man, and it's difficult to know whether he did have any romantic affairs of which the public will never discover. For example, in one of Ehrman's volumes on Pitt he mentions that Lord Holland had said that Pitt went to brothels, and there were rumours in the 19th century that Pitt had an "affinity" to one of his long-time servants, Miss Elizabeth Williams, who was with him in his employment at his decease, and who lived with Lady Hester Stanhope until Miss Williams died (in Syria, I believe).

    Also, I noticed that at the time of Canning's wedding Pitt was heavily prescribed with paragoric elixir (aka laudanum) by his physician Sir Walter Farqhaur, and - I'm probably just reading into this more than most people - the date of Canning's wedding in July 1800 was (I believe) on Eleanor Eden's birthday! He could have been heavily drugged at the time, or merely deep in his thoughts musing on what his friends could experience (marriage, children, domesticity) and what he himself had sacrificed. He could have been a virgin at 46 when he died, but the skeptic in me believes this is highly unlikely. Also, interestingly Pitt's father did not wed Lady Hester Grenville until he was 46. Now I'm rambling...it's great to discuss these theories with you. :)

  4. I love all the anecdotes about Pitt's personality in Lady Hester Stanhope's memoirs. She was a brilliantly clever lady, and she doesn't get the credit she deserves from most of Pitt's biographers. Do you remember reading in Hester Stanhope's memoirs that Pitt was so enamoured of a Miss W that he drank wine from her shoe! And how he had a real appreciation for a beautiful woman, and the style and cut of a dress? Lady Hester seemed to think Pitt was heterosexual, and she truly believed that he ardently loved Lady Eleanor Eden but gave her up because he did not want to be subject to the intrigues and political ambitions of her family - namely her father Lord Auckland. I just bought this great book called Letters Relating to the Love Episode of William Pitt on Abebooks which also has an account of some of Pitt's medical history. I'm a bit of a Pitt nerd.
    When did you first become interested in William Pitt?

  5. Hey Elyse, It's Steph again:

    I'm anonymous on here as I don't have a blog. Just thought you might find it interesting that I've been doing some research on Mr Pitt at a Kent archive centre, and I've managed to see two separate locks of his beautiful brown hair! I'm planning on returning in mid June to view more documents but here's the link to the Stanhope of Chevening manuscripts (of which there is a special collection of the Pitt MSS), which you may like to see:

  6. www.kentarchives.org.uk/CalmView/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=CKS-U1590%2F13%2F5%2F3