The Nympho and Other Maniacs

The Nympho and Other Maniacs - Irving Wallace [These notes were made in 1983:]. Not as dreadful as the title may suggest. A collection of ten to twenty-page biographies of women who fell into one of two "scandalous" categories - mistresses or radicals. I am sure Delia Bacon (who propounded the "Shakespeare is Bacon" theory) would be most upset to find herself in company with no fewer than three of Byron's mistresses, but there you have it. Wallace's prose is lucid and enjoyable, and his research seems reasonably thorough for a book evidently aimed at the popular market. The bibliography contains some interesting stuff, and I found the centre section -- women who formed the real-life models for fictional heroines - very instructive. The genesis of this collection is rather obvious, I'm afraid: the longest (and least entertaining) of these sketches is that of Lady Jane Ellenborough, the "Nympho" of the title. That piece of research is clearly the core around which the rest accumulated, and she is probably a personal obsession of Wallace's.