Okay. It's time to get down and dirty. If the tarts were having a party, this one would be the belle of the ball. So what better way to "celebrate" my most paranoid of days than to introduce a key player in the life of Georgiana, Lady Elizabeth 'Bess' Foster.
In 1782 on a healing trip to bath, Georgiana and the Duke met Bess, who would become a key player in the theatrics of their lives forever more. Instantly she analyzed them for what they were: lonely. Immediately she put a plan into action, and told her sob story. She was born to the notorious Herveys, an aristocratic family with barely any money. She married John Thomas Foster, whom she later claimed frightened her and consequently resisted the match. However, records show she was happy about it at the time. By the time she had her second son (her first son Augustus is an ancestor to Anna Wintour) the marriage was a disaster. Foster seduced Bess' maid and then shortly afterward kicked her (Bess) out, securing the custody of his two sons. I am sure she retold this harrowing tale with many embellishments to the Duke and Duchess who immediately took her in. So began 20 plus years worth of puppetry in the Devonshire home.
Bess manipulated everyone around her with her damsel in distress act (she was one of those, 'I know I am cute types'). Unfortunately the Duke and Duchess never seemed to see it. Many others did including Georgiana's mother Lady Spencer, who spent many years criticizing Bess verbally and through letters. Bess was even bold enough to add post-scripts on Georgiana's letters to her mother, the nerve! Bess quickly became Georgiana's best friend and a permanent guest in her homes. Given Georgiana's tendencies they could have been more than just friends, but thanks to Victorian ancestors censoring old letters, we will never fully know the truth. With the enthusiasm of a girl in Elementary school, Lady Bess would even attempt to dress like Georgiana (well who didn't) reusing her clothes. Just as quickly as a friendship developed with Georgiana, an affair developed with the Duke. Two children were the result of this affair that continued throughout the years in front of Georgiana. "Why would she put up with this shit?" you might be asking. Well my friends, that is the art of manipulation. I can tell you she didn't like it but her dependency on the friendship (Bess manipulated Georgiana through her insecurities) made her very forgiving of this fault.
Bess, like her Duke-lover, is said to have had affairs with many including Ercole Cardinal Consalvi (a man of the cloth), John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (well, who hadn't slept with him), Count Axel von Fersen (Marie's Man), Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, and Valentine Richard Quin, 1st Earl of Dunraven (married). She really lived in a fantasy thinking she was some sort of gift from God because she was bff with Georgiana and the Duke, but really that was the only reason people tolerated her. Once when she needed a place to stay in France, Georgiana wrote her references to her dear friends the Polignacs (who would do anything for her). The Polignacs, being a fun bunch welcomed Bess in but soon despised her. Bess left confused.
When Georgiana died in 1806 Bess quickly swooped in and forced the sad Duke to marry her, against his legit children's wishes. She then proceeded to bully him into making their bastards legitimate. When the Duke finally died (not in peace obviously!) Georgiana's children had to bribe Bess to just leave them alone finally. They never considered her a Duchess of Devonshire and just wanted to be rid of her and her nasty ways.