Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin

Mistress of the Elgin Marbles A Biography of Mary Nisbet Countess of Elgin The remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess of Elgin in Romantic era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey she changed hist

  • Title: Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin
  • Author: Susan Nagel
  • ISBN: 9780060545550
  • Page: 305
  • Format: Paperback
  • The remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess of Elgin in Romantic era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey, she changed history She helped bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East, struck a seemingly impossible deal with Napoleon, and arranged the removal of famous marbles from the ParthenonThe remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess of Elgin in Romantic era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey, she changed history She helped bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East, struck a seemingly impossible deal with Napoleon, and arranged the removal of famous marbles from the Parthenon But all of her accomplishments would be overshadowed, however, by her scandalous divorce Drawing from Mary s own letters, scholar Susan Nagel tells Mary s enthralling, inspiring, and suspenseful story in vibrant detail.

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      Published :2019-02-07T05:11:51+00:00

    1 thought on “Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin”

    1. There were some things that the author did very well in this book, including painting a vivid portrait of the social vivaciousness of Mary Elgin, illustrating the character of Lord Elgin, and developing a solid story of a failing marriage. But still, this book left me wanting more—more about the marbles themselves, more about the legacy and relevance of the marbles today, more about Mary as a woman after her return to England. I also found myself thinking that maybe Nagel's portrait of Mary wa [...]

    2. This biography of Mary Nisbet was so delightfully readable that I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't fictional. I am grateful that this well spoken, charismatic, intrepid, young heiress Scotswoman consistently engaged in copious amounts of correspondence which survived her. Author Susan Nagel has successfully structured her book as to give the reader plenty of context for the circumstances under which Mary crossed paths with numerous notable personages , Lord Nelson of Trafalgar fame, Napole [...]

    3. Via the Bookperk email. I totally am mainly interested in this based on all the reviews that are like, "Too much about her fascinating life and divorce and groundbreaking for women's legal rights! Not enough about marbles!"Okay so I had to Wiki what the marbles are about, but still.Anyway, the deal was sealed by this fabulously incorrect line in Nisbet's own article:"Bruce divorced Nesbit in either 1807 or 1808, and went on to marry Robert Ferguson of Raith (1777–1846)."HA

    4. A little disappointing in that it was somewhat slanted in Mary's favor and didn't discuss the antiquities themselves as much as I had hoped. However, I learned a lot and am overall glad I read the book, so around a 3.5.To start with, if it hadn’t been for the mention of the Elgin Marbles in the title, I probably wouldn’t have added this to my reading list or sought it out. Unfortunately, there wasn’t nearly as much about the Elgin Marbles themselves as I had hoped, although an appendix rep [...]

    5. Nagel paints a fascinating image of Mary Nisbet. Many facets of Mary's life are intriguing: her wild success as an ambassador's wife; her mastery of the art of letter writing; her benevolence as a land owner and land lord; her early advocacy for vaccinations; her interactions with Napoleon and succes in procuring the release of her husband imprisoned by the tyrant; finally, her failed marriage and estrangement from her children, both which were, allegedly, due to Lord Elgin. Reading this biograp [...]

    6. great biographyever wonder what life was like in 1800 as a super rich British young woman married to a politician? Me either, but I sure know now! Well worth reading, and learning about historical 'STUFF".

    7. The life of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin, later Mrs. Ferguson, whose fame rests on two very different facts : 1. while living in the East with her ambassador (first) husband, she was responsible for the logistics of the removal and shipping of the Parthenon friezes (the so-called Elgin marbles, currently the object of a heated debate about whether they belong to the UK or to Greece) and 2. she was sued for divorce by her first husband after he found out about her adultery with family friend Fe [...]

    8. The writing was good and you got a vivid picture of this family and this woman's life and personal battles, but there was a sense of distance that kept me from loving it as much as it deserved. I can't quite put it into words, but while some books might put you right up beside the biographer's subject to experience everything with them, Nagel only manages to get you in the same room as them, watching the proceedings as just another party guest.

    9. Nagel, Susan. MISTRESS OF THE ELGIN MARBLES: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin. (2004). ****. This is a fascinating look at Miss Nisbet who came from a family that was one of the richest in all of Scotland, and later married Lord Elgin (RememberIt’s a hard “g”) and went on to become one of the most famous women of her time. When her husband was appointed as England’s ambassador to Turkey, Countess Elgin so impressed the sultan, Selim III, that she was allowed access to areas [...]

    10. Mary Nisbet Ferguson was a Scottish lass albeit a wealthy one. Her first husband, Thomas Bruce, Lord Elgin, married her for her money. He squandered part of it as he made bad business decisions and became a British Diplomat. However, a preponderance of his success as a diplomat was due to Mary, a vibrant breeze of fresh air who endeared herself to nearly everyone, aristocracy and commoner alike. Lord Elgin expected to use her fortune and that she was to inherit to pay off, debts, rebuild his est [...]

    11. I really enjoyed this fascinating & insightful look at Mary Nisbet's very unusual & very full life. The particulars of her time spent as the wife of the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople was especially worth reading, as Mary's access to the lives of the upper classes of this society was almost completely unique - at the time, no Western woman, & indeed hardly any Western man, was permitted nearly as much freedom to see all the inner workings of the Seraglio. [...]

    12. I'm re-reading this book while reading Karen Essex book "Stealing Athena" for the first time. I'm fascinated with the story of the Elgin Marbles and Mary Elgin's role in this affair. There is terrific source materials on this topic, in the form of detailed letters and journals written by Mary Elgin. Susan Nagel's book stays close to this source material, she quotes from it liberally and tells a chronologically correct, if emotionally undeveloped tale.Essex does more to give Mary warmth and perso [...]

    13. Audiobook. This is the story of the infamous Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. Long debated as a rape or rescue of the artwork of the Athenian acropolis, the story of how the marbles got to England, who paid for them, and what Lord and Lady Elgin suffered in their procurement is not often told. It is a fascinating story of love, obsession, money and disease intersperced with the story of the ancient commission of the artwork. Told from the perspectives of Lady Elgin and Aspasia, the cortesan [...]

    14. The history presented in this biography is interesting but I could tell from the first page that it was almost an ode to Mary Nisbet. Susan Nagel spent a lot of time letting me know just how amazing Mary Nisbet was and that is all well and good, but her most significant influence on history, the acquisition of the Elgin Marbles is briefly skimmed over and then only mentioned again in the final chapter of the book. I also felt that the only reason that I could get through the book at all is becau [...]

    15. Very interesting biography. Mary Nisbet was an exceptionally wealthy Scottish woman who married the Duke of Elgin and became ambassadress to the Ottoman Empire and lived in Constantinople during French-British hostilities and during a very wealthy era. She met Pashas and Grand Viziers and all the most wealthy and influential and politically important people of the day including Napoleon. She was resourceful and engaging and beautiful and had amazing adventures. Good snapshot of a very different [...]

    16. I enjoyed this biography of Mary Nisbet, who was spunky, clever, and an early feminist. This book focused less on the admittedly controversial acquisition of the "Elgin" marbles, turned out to be more of a straight biography of her life. She married a man whom she initially adored, bore him many children, and devoted herself to helping him succeed as a diplomat. His true character was revealed after nine years when her husband betrayed her while in captivity at Napoleon's command. The resulting [...]

    17. While the beginning was a bit slow-going, the middle and end make up for it by providing a wonderful read about a charismatic and often forgotten women who made a huge contribution to British and Greek history. During a trip to London two years ago, I marveled at how a statue from one of the friezes of the Parthenon is in London when it should be in Athens and the head of it is in Copenhagen? Yes, I read that correctly on those cute little placards. After reading this bio, I know why. I heart Ma [...]

    18. Very interesting, but what makes it so is the presence of Mary's letters. She wrote extraordinarily well and very descriptively. The letters can teach you much about the state of mind during the time, and what people wore, how they livedc. It also shows how very similar people are, no matter the time period.Mary and Lord Elgin's story is really sad in the end. Which goes to show, no ones life is perfect. But I felt weighted down by the story, not uplifted. There wasn't much hear to it, just fact [...]

    19. Mary Nisbet wrote many letters while in the Mideast so there is lots of interesting historical information. Mary and her first husband (Lord Elgin) were responsible for preserving and bringing back many Greek sculptures and pieces of the Parthenon and they are now on display in the British Museum. It is relevant because of the controversy over whether they should be returned to Greece. It also portrays clearly how women had no rights at this time and were treated as a chattel of the husband.

    20. This is a biography and details the Elgin's collecting of Greek Marbles and treasures which they later sold to, and are now in, a British Museum. Mary was quite a personality--would have been tabloid fodder in our day and age. I found the book focusing more on her personal life and less on the treasures collected, which was the reason I picked up the book in the first place. I would have been more satisfied with more details and history about the treasures themselves and the later controversy ab [...]

    21. I read this because I'm going to actually see the Elgin Marbles this summer, and I like to read about places and things I'm going to see. I've read plenty of these biographies of minor European aristocrats, but Mary Elgin is not a very compelling subject. She seems to have been a personality with some flavor, but I'm not sure she merits 258 pages where you mostly read her letters that fluctuate between self-congratulating and desperate.

    22. An amazing woman and how she put up with Elgin is beyond understanding. Yet, she lost her children - women had no say about themselves or their children, but kept her own "self". Just another biography to remind us how far women have come since civil rights for women have so recently - in terms of history - come into rights denied them for thousands of years.Learned so much - which is what I like.

    23. Fascinating biography of Mary Nisbit, whose money procured the Parthenon's marbles for England. The books is about the woman, not the marbles themselves and she was fascinating. Although she had no power under British law until late in her life she nonetheless fashioned her own way of doing things and was a proponent for the right not to reproduce for women. Great read. Also, Elgin marbles should perhaps be renamed the Parthenon marbles, as Lord Elgin certainly doesn't deserve the credit.

    24. This book is more about the Mistress, than the Elgin marbles. It took me a while to get into this book and it suffers a bit from the author presuming that one knows the significance of any one event or meeting but overall is an interesting read. One cannot help at cringing the author's description of using mercury to cure any number of ills, the cavalier attitude of Mary's first husband toward 5 pregnancies in 5 years.

    25. This was a long read and I didn't find the book to be overly fascinating. The remarkable Mary Nisbet was interesting and played a huge role but was disgraced by her divorce. So much for love. Her love affair with Ferguson put her on the back shelf of history.She helped bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East, stuck a deal with Napoleon and arranged the removal of famous marbles from the Parthenon which are in the British Museum today.

    26. A wonderful story! An easy read, without being a 'fluff' book. The story is dynamic, with Mary being such an interesting woman surrounded by so many interesting people. She was so progressive, especially when you consider this was two hundred years ago, yet she was still very much a woman who loved her husband and children.

    27. Interesting subject, but as far as biographies go this one was less than thrilling. It just didn't pull me along as others. The author seemed to be bogged down in details without making them enlightening. At times, it felt like one deta after another. On the other hand, the history of England's acquiring the Elgin Marbles is fascinating.

    28. Seldom do I read Biographies and feel so intimately close to the subject as I did with this skilfully researched piece of work. I felt as if I had lived right along with Mary through her travels, adventures, exploits and tragedies. Packed with Romantic locals and historical people. It's an intimate peek into a fascinating life, who was Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin.

    29. Fascinating story, gave new insight to me into the the history of the discovery and "capture" of the Parthenon antiquities. It also brings to light another woman who was so influential in the political and cultural history of the 19th century.

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