A FOUR-page, colour illustrated feature in the April 25 issue of The Sunday Times Magazine will have done nothing to harm the saleroom prospects of a collection of 13 love letters written in the period January 1881-June 1882 by the actress Lillie Langtry, “the adored pin-up whose affairs rocked Victorian Britain”, and on May 13 Cumbrian auctioneers Mitchells of Cockermouth sold the lot for £5000.
These passionate letters – discovered quite recently in a suitcase in the attic of a house in a Lake District village – were addressed to Sir George Chetwynd, a racing friend of the Prince of Wales and a member of the Marlborough House set. Also part of this lot was a telegram sent by Lillie from New York on December 30, 1882, in which she pours scorn on the comments of another woman and chides Chetwynd for believing her lies. By this time their affair must have been near its end or over, for a second lot, which sold for £1400, contained not just a letter from the Prince of Wales in which he offers extensive comments and opinions on Lillie, but one from an anonymous correspondent (but quite obviously another of Lillie’s conquests) which tells Chetwynd that she is only making use of him to cover up the scandal of having had a child by the Prince of Wales.
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