The Duchess of Kenford held the title in her own right, being the only daughter and only surviving child of the 5th Duke of Kenford.

Before her younger brother died of scarlet fever, when there was every reason to believe that she would recieve nothing but a dowry from Kenford, she was betrothed to a young fellow she met at Cambridge whilst studying herself at Newham. He was something of a rake, a passionate man of letters who wrote her poems and was working on the first draft of a promising novel.

He was also one of the first over the top at the Somme in 1916, just a few months before the wedding scheduled for October. The Duchess’s brother died in December of that same year, followed not long after by her father in early 1917. In her grief, the new Duchess found herself in posession of lands and estates that ensured her wellebing for life.

Devoted to her dead fiancee, she refused all further suitors and offers of marriage and instead devoted herself to the literary legacy of the man that death had torn from her. She collected his personal papers and drafts, and took it upon herself to finish and publish everything that her would-be husband had ever scratched in ink.

The problem, insofar was there was one, arose from a clash of values. The young rake had written poems and a lengthy novel draft that were on the bleeding edge of literature, suffused with taboos: raw sexuality, homosexuality, violence, and adultery. His quasi-widow took it upon herself to expunge every last shadow of impropriety from the works without compromising their character.

In her later years, relatives who visited the estate around 1960 commented on the warrens of papers, the drafts upon drafts upon drafts that surrounded the Duchess, whose nicotene-stained fingers were gnarled from years behind a pen. By then she was editing drafts she had copied by hand years ago, and the originals lay under lock and key in the mater bedroom, left to moulder.

One wonders what might have happened had not the manor been consumed by fire in July of 1976, a fire sparked by cigarette embers and fed greedily by the volume of paper.

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