THE TELEGRAPH: ‘He bought diamonds as an ordinary man buys cigarettes’: The story of Britain's most eccentric aristocrat

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Release date: 23/11/2017

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“He was a genuine oddball,” says Professor Viv Gardner, a performance historian at Manchester University, who is writing a biography of the Marquess. “From quite early on, he was thought of as beyond the pale.” High society shunned him, but in Anglesey he became a kind of local mascot. “He developed a relationship with the local community through his shows,” Gardner adds. “In 21st-century eyes, it’s very strange. But he created a sort of utopia. At the same time as all this was going on, there was Lord Penrhyn, over the straits, only five miles away, behaving abominably, like the arch-capitalist out of a melodrama, locking out the starving slate workers. Yet on this island utopia you’ve got an eccentric aristocrat being invited to kick off local football matches.”His quixotic fantasies ruined him. Once one of the richest men in the world, Henry Paget died bankrupt in Monte Carlo at just 29, of a broken heart. “Actually, it was probably a form of tuberculosis which brought on a heart failure,” Gardner corrects me.

Media contributions

Title‘He bought diamonds as an ordinary man buys cigarettes’: The story of Britain's most eccentric aristocrat
Media name/outletThe Telegraph
Media typeWeb
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date23/11/17
Description“He was a genuine oddball,” says Professor Viv Gardner, a performance historian at Manchester University, who is writing a biography of the Marquess. “From quite early on, he was thought of as beyond the pale.” High society shunned him, but in Anglesey he became a kind of local mascot. “He developed a relationship with the local community through his shows,” Gardner adds. “In 21st-century eyes, it’s very strange. But he created a sort of utopia. At the same time as all this was going on, there was Lord Penrhyn, over the straits, only five miles away, behaving abominably, like the arch-capitalist out of a melodrama, locking out the starving slate workers. Yet on this island utopia you’ve got an eccentric aristocrat being invited to kick off local football matches.”His quixotic fantasies ruined him. Once one of the richest men in the world, Henry Paget died bankrupt in Monte Carlo at just 29, of a broken heart. “Actually, it was probably a form of tuberculosis which brought on a heart failure,” Gardner corrects me.
URLwww.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/actors/bought-diamonds-ordinary-man-buys-cigarettes-story-britains/
PersonsVivien Gardner