Randolph Stewart was lobotomized as a teenager after a crude diagnosis of schizophrenia. When the operation went wrong, he was hidden away by his aristocratic parents in a mental institution and then taken in by a sect of monks. By the time Lily Budge met him in 1975, he appeared a shy and lonely tramp. In reality he was the future Earl of Galloway, heir to a fortune and a title considered to be linchpin of the Scottish establishment. Lily, an extroverted character from a working-class family, would join him in a powerful bond of love that challenged conventions, made national headlines, and led to enormous heartache. A vibrant portrait of 20th-century Scotland, ‘An Unlikely Countess’ is also a profile of two unforgettable characters, and the doomed love that they shared.
Reviews of An Unlikely Countess
‘A spirited and sensitive account of one of the strangest lives imaginable. Louise Carpenter’s portrait of the life of Lily Budge is a classic of its kind: elegantly written, with a rare eye for detail and a shrewd and warm understanding of its extraordinary subject.’ William Boyd
‘Louise Carpenter tells this sensational story without ever exaggerating its more eye-catching excesses. She is sensitive to all sides…a serious and profoundly moving book.’ Independent on Sunday
‘An entertaining and moving memorial to [Lily’s] indomitable, colourful character. Wonderful.’ Telegraph
‘Louise Carpenter is a biographer of real promise…Her account of this oddly matched couple struggling to get along in Britain’s high society is often amusing, sometimes touching…Painstakingly researched and very readable.’ Scottish Herald