Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’

Written by Ian McIntyre
Review by Sara Wilson

This is the biography of Hester Thrale, nee Salusbury. Relying heavily on over thirty years of her own writings known charmingly as Thraliana, Hester paints a picture of an extraordinary and idiosyncratic lady. Although Hester was made famous by her relationship with Dr Johnson, Ian McIntyre ensures that she steps out from his shadow and into her own limelight.

Georgian England in general—London in particular—is brought into sharp focus along the way showing it for the gloriously cultured and spirited place it must have been. The reader not only follows Mrs Thrale’s ups and downs but learns a mass of 18th-century details along the way. The result is as captivating as the lady must have been herself.