ROSA LEWIS: An Exceptional Edwardian by Anthony Masters

ROSA LEWIS: An Exceptional Edwardian

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Rosa Lewis, inspiration for the Public TV series The Duchess of Duke Street, was a chef to royalty (""Prinny,"" soon to become ""Kingy,"" not to mention the Kaiser), the keeper of a house of assignation for Edward and favored ladies, and subsequently the owner of the Hotel Cavendish, a London cafÉ society resort before and between the two World Wars. But her tale, retold without relish, rarely rises above the interesting facts of her life: her humble beginnings as a kitchen maid, her social climbing via the servant halls of England's stately homes, her noble and royal friends and their numerous consorts, her marriage of convenience (probably never consummated) to Excelsior Lewis, butler of one of Prince Edward's buddies. On her lovers, male and female, Masters is discreetly noncommittal. Her ambiguous position, as neither servant nor Mrs. nor gentry, is discussed rather than dramatized. In the same way, historical periods are turgidly summarized: ""Very quickly the dusty conservatism of the Victorian age was over and with relief in came the hectic gaiety of the Edwardians."" But insatiable collectors of Edwardiana will find some piquant minutiae among the minutely detailed social doings.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's