By David Waller
Published Jan 2010
Gertrude Tennant’s life was remarkable for its length (1819-1918), but even more so for the influence she achieved as an unsurpassed London hostess. The salon she established attracted legions of celebrities, among them Gladstone and Disraeli, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Thomas Huxley, John Everett Millais, Henry James, and Robert Browning.
In her youth she had a fling with Gustave Flaubert, and in her later years she became the redoubtable mother-in-law to the explorer Henry Morton Stanley. David Waller recovers the lost life of Gertrude Tennant, drawing on a treasure trove of recently discovered family papers – thousands of letters, including two dozen original letters from Flaubert to Gertrude, dozens of diaries, and many other unpublished documents relating to Stanley and other famous figures of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries – to present Gertrude Tennant’s life in colourful detail while placing her at the centre of European social, literary, and intellectual life for the best part of a century.