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Read My Heart - the story of Dorothy Osborne and Sir William Temple by Jane Dunn

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Dorothy Osborne and William Temple met in 1648 when they were 21 and 20 at the end of the Civil War. Both were expected to make wealthy marriages, instead they fell in love with each other and despite the opposition of both families never considered anyone else. Dorothy and William first became famous when 70 of Dorothy’s letters to William, written during their long courtship were published in the 1880’s; not just merely romantic they are brilliantly written and were a sensation when they first came out.

It would be worth reading the book just for William and Dorothy’s love story but this is a complete biography, Dorothy the vivid star of the first part of the book fades slightly from notice once she gets married; like any respectable Carolean wife she does not put herself forward and the charming William takes centre stage. Cultivated, scientifically minded, country loving, William became a reluctant diplomat (he didn’t enjoy the amount of drinking he had to do with the dissolute Bishop of Munster) but achieved some notable successes, in particular paving the way for William and Mary to take the throne in 1689.

This is historical biography at its most readable, Jane Dunn tells us about her subjects and their times with an engaging and fluent style which has left me eager to read more about this fascinating period in history. Warmly recommended.

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