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Fortune's Many Houses
Simon Welfare

A Victorian Visionary, a Noble Scottish Family, and a Lost Inheritance

Atria Books
February 2021
On Sale: February 16, 2021
352 pages
ISBN: 1982128623
EAN: 9781982128623
Kindle: B08BZWS6MJ
Hardcover / e-Book
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Historical

A unique and fascinating look at Victorian society through the remarkable lives of an enlightened and philanthropic aristocratic couple, the Marquess and Marchioness of Aberdeen, who exhausted their vast fortune buying homes around the globe where they entertained the rich and famous while also campaigning for the poor and disadvantaged.

As the Marquess and Marchioness of Aberdeen, John and Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon enjoyed wealth and privilege that many in Victorian times could only imagine. They counted Queen Victoria, the authors J.M. Barrie and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the showman P.T. Barnum among their many distinguished acquaintances. Unlike other aristocrats of the time, however, the couple spent most of their money helping others.

Ishbel—social reformer, political activist, health campaigner, and advocate of women’s rights—personally transformed lives not only in her native Scotland, but in Canada and Ireland where her husband was appointed Viceroy by Queen Victoria. The couple ran their charitable campaigns from the homes they bought on their travels in Britain and North America, including a mansion in the Scottish Highlands, grand townhouses in London’s most fashionable square, a fishing lodge in Quebec, and ranches in British Columbia and Texas.

Yet Ishbel’s passion for reform was a double-edged sword, doing as much good for others as it did reckless harm to her family’s fortune and John had to sell almost all of his vast estates. When he died in 1934, their coffers were all but empty and Ishbel faced eviction from her home in the Scottish hills.

A moving and colorful exploration of Victorian society through the eyes of an inspirational couple who did their best to change the world for the better, often at great personal cost, Fortune’s Many Houses is a feast for history lovers.

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