Back in 2010, I published an article on Leafbox Tea about Anna Marie Russell, the Duchess of Bedford. In short, she is credited with creating the tradition of afternoon tea. In my article, I proposed that the longevity of the tradition is actually steeped in scandal, libel and gossip. In my article, I suggest that British afternoon tea cemented itself in culture, not because of Anna’s charms, but more because of her harsh, delinquent and celebrity attitude in general.
More interestingly, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, I’ve recently discovered some original source material online (in the form of various London newspapers and broadsheets, specifically from October 1839) that highlight the scandal, criticize Queen Victoria, even to the extent of mentioning Anna by name (well, by title really, Lady Tavistock).
The new research has prompted me to dig into the articles and writings to get more out of it to get a larger concept of the scandal. I think it will call for a followup article to prove my point that Anna was not the demure Victorian lady that afternoon tea parties make her out to be and that afternoon tea and high tea holds its origins more in gossip and scandal, than in civil niceties.