An Apology for the Life of Major General Gunning - New Annotated Edition by Gerrish Gray

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Gunning's reputation and finances collapsed after a scandal concerning correspondence between his daughter Elizabeth (whose charming translation of Plurality of Worlds is also published by Tiger of the Stripe) and the Marquess of Blandford. After more than 200 years, Tiger of the Stripe's new annotated edition gets to the truth behind the 'Gunning Mystery'

Gunning cover picture

An Apology for the Life of Major General Gunning

an hoary, abominable, degraded creature

Mentioned in despatches at Bunker Hill, brother to the Duchess of Argyll and the Countess of Coventry, John Gunning occupied an enviable position in Georgian society, but in 1792 his whole life started to unravel…

It all started with forged correspondence between his daughter Elizabeth and the Marquess of Blandford. Was Elizabeth, her garrulous mother, her dissipated father, the sinister Essex Bowen or someone else responsible?

The Apology, published in 1792, gives a first-hand account of Gunning's many seductions (including apparently 2 duchesses, 14 countesses, 4 viscountesses and 7 baronesses) and purports to explain the so-called 'Gunning Mystery' - the story behind the correspondence but fails to do so.

The book also tells how the General, described by Lord Kenyon as 'an hoary, abominable, degraded creature,' betrayed the man who had rescued him from a debtors' prison by seducing his wife.

But is the Apology itself a forgery? Although there are indications that it may be, this memoir displays an extremely good understanding of the Gunnings, perhaps too good to be the work of an outsider.

In this new, annotated and illustrated edition, Gerrish Gray delves into the fascinating world of Georgian society which is refined and seedy.

In this new, annotated edition, Gerrish Gray unearths prosecutions for other forgeries (and capital offences at that) perpetrated by one of the suspects in the Gunning Mystery. These point to the true identity of the culprit in the Gunning Mystery.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of mysteries left: What led Gunning to marry the foolish Susannah Minifie? What was the bond between Gunning and James Duberley,the man who supplied his regiment's uniforms?

Gerrish Gray is a retired historian who prefers to remain pseudonymous.

Tiger of the Stripe, 50 Albert Road, Richmond, Surrey, UK. Telephone 020 8940 8087. Email: peter@tigerofthestripe.co.uk. Web: Tiger of the Stripe is a small publishing company founded in 2003 by Peter Danckwerts who has worked in publishing since the 1970s.

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Peter Danckwerts
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