Sarah Jennings, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744)

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      Sarah Jennings Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, (1660-1744) The influential and opportunistic Duchess of Marlborough entered court as a maid of honor for Anne Hyde, the Duchess of York, and eventually advanced to become an intimate and influential confidante to Queen Anne.

      Sarah and her husband, John Churchill, hid the former princess Anne during the exile of Roman Catholic James II (1688) and thus secured high positions in court for a time. Unwise political moves and inattentiveness to the Queen later led to the Duchess' disfavor and ejection from court (1710). Her courtly ambition and outspokenness contributed to her illustrious public reputation. Samuel Johnson and Robert Walpole were highly critical of her. Pope unattractively modeled his character 'Atossa' from Ethic Epistles (Moral Essays) on her life, which led the Duchess to arrange for the work's suppression. However, Henry Fielding did publish in her defense A Full Vindication of the Duchess-Dowager of Marlborough (1742). During the end of her life, she authored An Account of the Conduct with the help of Nathaniel Hooke.

      An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from Her First Coming to Court, to the Year 1710. In a Fetter from Herself to My Lord—. London: Printed by James Bettenham, for George Hawkins, 1742.

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