The extraordinary story of the Druce-Portland affair, one of the most notorious, tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. In 1897 an elderly widow, Anna Maria Druce, made a strange request of the London Ecclesiastical Court: it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, T.C. Druce. Behind her application lay a sensational claim: that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the - now dead - Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce's coffin would be found to be empty. And her children, therefore, were heirs to the Portland millions. The legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England.
'A lively account of the light shone on the lies, deceit and hypocrisy of Victorian society' The Times. 'A brilliant forensic analysis of the intriguing Druce case, and wonderfully revealing of the many layers beneath Victorian respectability' Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, judge on Richard III reinterment case. 'The Druce-Portland case gripped Edwardian England, and you can see why. An eccentric Duke, a mysterious claimant to the title, a long legal battle to open a grave in pursuit of a huge fortune - it's a thoroughly engrossing story, in the best traditions of Mr Whicher' Nicholas Best, author of Tennis and the Masai and Five Days that Shocked the World. 'The story of the Duke of Portland and his fortune makes compelling reading' M.J. Trow, author of the Inspector Lestrade detective series. 'A meticulous examination of a late Victorian/early Edwardian cause celebre ... The rigorous research is the book's strength. Eatwell often digresses to insert background, enriching the narrative with juicy details from the time period, or to note other sensational cases' Publishers' Weekly. 'An astonishing mixture of formidable research and great storytelling' Tim Bentinck, actor, voice of David Archer in BBC series The Archers, 12th Earl of Portland and distant cousin of the 5th Duke. 'We can't recommend this enough' All About History.
Piu Marie Eatwell studied English at Oxford and is a trained barrister. Her first book, They Eat Horses, Don't They, was published by Head of Zeus in August 2013.