When Sir William Temple (1628–1699) and Dorothy Osborne (1627–1695) began their passionate love affair, civil war was raging in Britain, and their families—parliamentarians and royalists, respectively—did everything to keep them apart. Yet the couple went on to enjoy a marriage and a sophisticated partnership unique in its times. Surviving the political chaos of the era, the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the deaths of all their nine children, William and Dorothy made a life together for more than forty years.
Drawing upon extensive research and the Temples' own extraordinary writings—including Dorothy's dazzling letters, one of the glories of English literature—Jane Dunn gives us an utterly captivating dual biography, the first to examine Dorothy's life as an intellectual equal to her diplomat husband. While she has been known to posterity as the very symbol of upper-class, seventeenth-century domestic English life, Dunn makes clear that she was a woman of great complexity, of passion and brilliance, noteworthy far beyond her role as a wife and mother. The remarkable story of William and Dorothy's life together—illuminated here by the author's insight and her vivid sense of place and time—offers a rare glimpse into the heart and spirit of one of the most turbulent and intriguing eras in British history.