Ophelia will be speaking on THE FAVOURITE in Sturminster Marshall on Saturday 14 March - DUE TO COVID, THIS WILL BECOME AN ONLINE EVENT IN AUTUMN 2020
Ophelia will be teaching a workshop on life writing (memoir and biography) on 12 May 2020 - DUE TO COVID, THIS EVENT WAS CANCELLED
Ophelia will be in conversation with Anne Somerset, biographer of Queen Anne, about the lives of Anne and Sarah, at the Festival on Friday 11 October, 3-4pm. If you can't make it, catch it on SKY ARTS!
Ophelia will be giving a talk on THE FAVOURITE: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough at the Georgian Society on 11 November 2019
Alistair Macaulay has shared some beautiful notation of a dance called THE FAVOURITE danced by Anne, before she was queen. He says: "This dance notation was published in 1706, but Anne probably danced it in 1690. It was a duet, with her partner moving in a kind of mirror fashion to her, as this floor pattern shows. We don’t know who her partner was; since same-sex dance duets occurred in the baroque era in both England and France, it’s possible her dance partner here was Sarah." To see the dance notation, and to read more about it, please go to www.alastairmacaulay.com
On 29 November 2018, Weidenfeld & Nicolson published a revised edition of Ophelia's first book, THE FAVOURITE: SARAH DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH. ORDER HERE
READ THE HISTORY BEHIND THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz (as Sarah) and Emma Stone
For the 80th anniversary of the Kit-Kat Bar, Nestle made this short film explaining the history of the name. The film, featuring Ophelia, was shot at Simpsons on the Strand, which stands on the site of the Fountain Tavern, one of the Kit-Cat Club’s meeting places. The link between the famous confectionery and the original 17th-18th century Kit-Cat Club has been confirmed once and for all, thanks to collector extraordinaire, Joe Dickinson. Mr Dickinson’s collection of Kit-Kat memorabilia includes an original chocolate box lid, supposedly showing Christopher Catling and his shop at the Cat & Fiddle.
News reaches London of the 'Kit-Cat Club Restoration' - a club founded in the autumn of 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area by Stephen Whitehead, a classical musician and collector of Tonson original editions, pictured in full costume in the image illustrating this page.
A Kit-Cat toasting glass has been found in the Harding Collection of the Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford (Ophelia's old college, by happy coincidence). The glass is engraved with two verses, the first to Mrs Dunch, and the 2nd to "Harriott D" and dated 25 June 1724, so believed to refer to Edmund Dunch's second daughter Harriet, who would have been about 20 years old at this date. It is signed, mysteriously, "H--y H--y" --
Anyone with any thoughts on who this could be, please do email Ophelia via the contact page of this site.
The catalogue entry for the glass is as follows:
'A colourless two-piece wine glass'. The trumpet bowl, enclosing an air tear, with a tapering drawn stem is supported on a folded conical foot. The base of the foot has a pontil mark. The bowl is engraved in diamond-point with two verses.
The first reads:
Fair Dunch's Eyes such
Radiant glances dart
As warm ye coldest bosom
Those heavenly orbs must
needs attract ye heart
Where Churchill's sweetness
Softens Godfry's fire.
The second inscription, added later, reads as follows:
Dear Harriot D-
Look on the fairest Glass that's
fill'd the most,
And Harriott you will find the
Look on her eyes if you their
Light can bear
And love himself, you'll find
sits toasting there -
It is signed 'H---y H---y' and dated 'June ye 25th. 1724'
English c. 1700-20 / Height: 18.3cm / W. G. Harding gift
In 2010, the first known drinking glass to have survived from the Kit-Cat toasting rituals was sold at auction at Bonhams, New Bond Street. It is inscribed '29 June 1716 - To Mrs Walpole' which must refer to Robert Walpole's wife, and a previously unrecorded meeting of the Club.
See Ophelia speaking about Anne and Sarah on BBC iPlayer series, 'Fit to Rule' (Episode 2) presented by Lucy Worsley, about how the physical and mental health of British monarchs has shaped history.
Listen to Ophelia speaking about the relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.
March 2022: Ophelia has contributed an entry on The Kit-Cat Club to DIGITENS, a new open-access encyclopaedia on Sociability in Europe throughout the long eighteenth century
See Matthew Storey (Kensington Palace curator) and I being interviewed about the fact vs fiction of THE FAVOURITE
Fun piece by NPR.com, including quote from our interview, on Queen Anne and her hot beverages!
Interview with Ophelia by Dr Janina Ramirez at Blenheim Palace, about the Duchess of Marlborough and THE FAVOURITE
Ophelia is interviewed by Lucy Worsley for BB4, first showing 3 March 2020, 9pm about the relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough
Ophelia's piece on the political essay form in English Literature is now available in ON ESSAYS - eds. Thomas Karshan and Kathryn Murphy (OUP, 3 September 2020)