Courtiers, By Lucy Worsley

If tittle-tattle from the sober court of Elizabeth II is oddly compelling, it is watery stuff compared to her 18th century forebears.

From this sparkling compendium of Georgian gossip, we learn that Mary Deloraine, George II's mistress, literally fell from favour when someone pulled her chair away as she was about to sit down at cards.

This would not have mattered had the King not found the incident so amusing that she did the same to his haemorrhoid-plagued posterior. Perhaps the saddest of the weird bunch is Peter the Wild Boy, found in the Hanover woods.

After receiving an invitation to meet Princess Caroline, Swift joked that her obsession with "the Wild Boy from Germany" extended to "a wild Dean from Ireland".

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