In early 1855, when R. R. Madden’s Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington first appeared, Rosina Bulwer was incensed. Finding Madden’s a “most disgusting and mendacious book,” Rosina retitled it the “Literary Lie of Lady Blessington” (Unpublished 147, emphasis added).1 Rosina hated Blessington for her friendship with “Sir Liar,” Rosina’s name for her estranged husband, Edward Bulwer (Bulwer, Letters 1: 230).2 And in her novels, notably the 1839 novel Cheveley and the more slanderous 1844 Memoirs of a Muscovite, Rosina had targeted Blessington for vitriol.3 From 10 February to 15 September 1855, Rosina filled her letters with “venom[ous]” libels against Blessington, creating an alternative scandalous biography for the late Countess to counter Madden’s laudatory one.4 In Rosina’s letters Blessington is the “blackest hearted

woman I ever heard of,” the “beau ideal of hollow, heartless humbugs,” a woman whose name stands for immorality (“neither a Blessington nor a Prude”), and a whore whose pimp (Captain Jenkins) “actually put her up to auction, en costume de Paradis (!!), on the public mess table, and after this creditable fashion she ran the gauntlet of the whole regiment-before that ass, Lord Blessington, married her.”5 For Rosina, the largely unblemished public reputation of Lady Blessington, even six years after her death, was an “infamy […] always recurring to me and keeping alive the irritation.”6 Alfred Chalon called Rosina’s obsession with Blessington an “idée fixe,” and Isaac Ironside found her complaints “nauseating repetitions” (Unpublished 133). Though Rosina worked to convert Blessington’s popularity into scandal and notoriety, she found herself thwarted by the “intense ignorance of a ‘British female!’”:

Rosina’s anger at Blessington’s still-positive posthumous reputation and at the “bridling” unwillingness of “British Females” to believe anything against the Countess gives us a specific historical moment from which to gauge Blessington’s celebrity. This anecdote, so galling to Rosina, calls into contrast the shift between Blessington’s lifetime and early posthumous reputation and her current reputation as a notorious and calumniated woman.