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William Thomas Beckford: Author, Architect and Rogue

You certainly must have heard before I can tell you that Col. Orde has married our cousin, Margt. Beckford, the Marchess. of Douglas’s sister. The papers say that her father disinherits her, but I think too well of an Orde to suppose that she has not a handsome independence of her own. Jane Austen to Cassandra May 29, 1811 William Thomas Beckford (1 October 1760 – 2 May 1844), usually known as William Beckford, was an English novelist, art critic, travel writer and politician. He was Member of Parliament for Wells from 1784 to 1790, for Hindon from 1790 to 1795 and again from 1806 to 1820. Beckford was born in the family’s London home at 22 Soho Square. At the age of ten, he inherited a large fortune from his father, a former Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Beckford consisting of £1 million in cash, land at Fonthill (including the Palladian mansion Fonthill Splendens) in Wiltshire, and several sugar plantations in Jamaica. This allowed him to indulge his interest in art and architecture, as well as writing. He was trained by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in music. Thirteen years later he married the fourth Earl of Aboyne’s daughter, Lady Margaret Gordon on May 5, 1783. However, Beckford was hounded out of polite English society when (probably unfounded) gossip accused him of “sexual irregularity”- at that time a capitol offense. Beckford chose exile, in the company of his young wife, whom he grew to love deeply, but who

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