By David Painting
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Additional resources for Amy Dillwyn
Vigorous commitment was what she now needed and wanted, some kind of exceptional activity that would give her life a meaning it had hitherto lacked. For the moment, however, Amy had to be content with the skirmishes of polite society and the gossip of the day. In the long hot summer of 1864 the main talking point was that Lady Florence Paget, who was engaged to be married to the wealthy Mr Chaplin, had bolted with and married the disreputable Marquis of Hastings despite her fiancé’s having paid all her debts to the tune of £12,000.
Not to be an heiress was one thing but not to be beautiful as well was another. Whereas Minnie and Harry had inherited their father’s handsome appearance. Amy was more like her mother who for all her artistic talents could never have been called a beauty. What Amy had inherited was an unusual degree of intelligence which combined with a determined personality to make her a difficult child for her many private tutors to handle. Years afterwards Amy invited one of her former governesses, Susannah Beer, to lunch at her London home and after Miss Beer had gone recollected with total candour what an awkward pupil she must have been.
Like you I cannot understand that I shall never see her again here, though I feel very miserable and lonely indeed. I don’t think I shall be able to realise it till I come home and see you all. ’ Even in her early teens Amy was already showing that special kind of awareness that set her apart from many girls of her age and social class and even from her own closest friends and relations. But like any other family the Dillwyns had their good times as well as their bad and Amy never missed an opportunity of enjoying the ordinary pleasures of life.