The 3rd Earl of Portsmouth voted in the House of Lords, took county positions, invited Jane Austen to his balls, counted William Cobbett as one of his Hampshire neighbours and had Lord Byron as his best man at his second marriage. Then, at the age of fifty-five, his own family launched a case citing him as a danger not only to the peerage but to himself.Historian Elizabeth Foyster invites us into the jury box for the lengthiest, most expensive and vastly controversial lunacy commission ever heard, including accusations of abductions, sodomy, blackmail and domestic violence. Presenting all the evidence heard by the jury, and uncovering private letters and personal testimony never examined before, Foyster goes beyond the fate of the Earl himself to deeper questions regarding the treatment of the mentally ill and societys need to qualify the abilities of those who are not normal. Innovative in its retelling of the case, both provocative and heart-rending, The Trials of the King of Hampshire is a truly original piece of narrative non-fiction.
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