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Margaret Cavendish (née Lucas), Duchess of Newcastle upon Tyne

(1623?-1674), Writer and second wife of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Sitter in 20 portraits
The Duchess of Newcastle was a prominent aristocrat with a keen interest in science. She wrote critiques of Descartes, Hobbes and Hooke and an early foray into science fiction, The Description of a New World, called the Blazing-World (1668). Her proposed visit to the Royal Society in 1667 caused much debate among Fellows as to whether a woman's presence would damage the Society's reputation. Her elevated social status won the day and she became the first woman to attend a Society demonstration. Pepys records that she was 'all admiration' for Boyle's air-pump.

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Laurie Pettitt

22 March 2017, 14:04

Margaret was Lady in Waiting to Henrietta Maria and met Sir William Cavendish when he came to pay his respects to Queen Henrietta Maria. She then shared Cavendish's exile which proved to be a rocky road. Their time consisted of finding people who would lend them money (Cavendish's fortune was spent helping Charles I defend his crown.)
They were so skint at one point that Margaret had to ask her servant if she would sell the dolls that she had given the servant to buy Dinner. Cavendish just didn't know how to be 'poor'. His life still revolved around great entertainment and horses.
Margaret gained the name 'Mad Meg' because she eschewed society and found the Ladie's conversation boring. She was religious but did not spend hours in prayer. Her reason was that God was far too busy to be constantly prayed at.
This is a woman who deserves to be read about and they should make a film about the Exile. Mr Micawber, shift over, here comes Cavendish!

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