What started as a friendly conversation between a young girl, Theresa Longworth, and an army officer, William Charles Yelverton, on a steamer bound from France to England in 1852 would culminate nearly a decade later in one of the biggest public scandals the era had witnessed, with enormous implications for society at large. Seized upon by the Victorian press, the trials to legitimize Longworth's marriage to Yelverton before the law courts of Ireland, Scotland, and England brought to the fore several of the most disconcerting matters in the Victorian era: the inadequacies of female education, prejudice against single women, and problems with marriage law.
When Theresa Yelverton emerged victorious from her legal battles, she was paraded through Dublin's streets like a queen. Her victory, though, was short-lived, as she learned that life as a single woman?even the life of a well-known writer and traveler, as she became?would always be hard. Theresa Yelverton became an unwitting harbinger of the turmoil of her era and evoked timeless fears and fascinations: the fantasy of romance, the grip of obsession, the plight of unrequited love, the fear of abandonment. Chloe Schama brilliantly recaptures an ordinary woman caught up in an extraordinary affair, catapulted into fame and notoriety, forcing her society to confront some of its most unsettling issues.
Chloe Schama has written for the New Republic, New York Sun and the Guardian. She lives in Washington, D.C. This is her first book.
“Schama spins a fine story herself.” —New York Times Book Review
“Chloë Schama gives Longworth Yelverton her due in insightful and entertaining style. She is a star on the rise.” —Town and Country
“A nonfiction debut most writers only dream about … Chloë Schama's retelling of the history of one of Victorian England's most notorious scandals reads like a novel itself … history buffs and those who enjoy a good, old-fashioned scandal will find charm here.” —Library Journal
“Schama breathes new life into the story of one woman's dogged determination to salvage her tattered reputation and forge an independent life for herself in the aftermath of a publicly debated scandal and a failed marriage.” —Booklist
“Schama tells Longworth's story well, keeping a steady eye on the sources and placing her firmly within whatever extraordinary context she [Longworth] found herself.” —Bookforum
“Chloë Schama will delight her readers. She writes with confidence and passion, yet with a sensitivity for her subject which is wonderfully appealing. I finished the book with regret, wanting more and impatient for a sequel.” —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
“Wild Romance is a book that will take you for a whooping ride from the highlands of Scotland to the majestic beauty of Yosemite to the mystical power of Hong Kong Harbor. Our heroine, Teresina, is a woman who fights for a life of conventional marriage, yet in her struggle, discovers she is destined for much more. This is history that reads like quality, page-turning fiction. It is at once riveting and enlightening.” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author of Barefoot and The Castaways
“Bringing together a Victorian novelist's reach and richness with the discerning intelligence of a twenty-first-century literary biographer, Chloë Schama creates a thrilling narrative that locates the themes of Victorian scandal and adventure within contemporary feminist values of courage and autonomy. Schama's fine acrobatic grace enables her to tread the tightrope between the constraints of history and the wild romance of an unfulfilled life.” —Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University