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  • Writer's pictureFiona McNeill

Hooked on Drama

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

When I was a child, my dad thought I watched too much TV. He was worried it would stunt my intellect. I think my brain survived just fine, but I will admit that too many telenovelas have left a love of over-the-top acting and drama. I love soap operas that include a dramatic confrontation over a man.

So, it comes as no surprise that I was immediately hooked by the story of a confrontation that involved the Countess of Coventry. A gossipy letter from the 1750s reported an altercation between Lady Coventry and her husband’s mistress in Hyde Park.

I was then startled when I read that the mistress, the famous courtesan Kitty Fisher, also died of lead poisoning from her make-up. A man’s wife and his mistress were both fatally poisoned by cosmetics?

This seemed far-fetched to me. It made me question whether stories about lead poisoning from make-up were true. Was white lead make-up really so toxic that young women were regularly dropping dead from wearing it?

I had to find out, and so a research program was born.

For more on the story of the confrontation between Kitty Fisher and Lady Coventry in 'The Park', please see a new page that I have added to the main website: 'Kitty Fisher'. The pages is a menu item under the Lady Coventry tab.

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