User:AndrewRT/Dorothy Wellesley (Wikipedia)

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Dorothy Violet Wellesley, Duchess of Wellington (30 July 1889 – 11 July 1956[1]), styled Lady Gerald Wellesley between 1914 and 1943, was an English socialite, author, poet, and literary editor. She was born Dorothy Violet Ashton at Maidenhead.


She was the daughter of Robert Ashton of Croughton, Cheshire (himself a second cousin of the 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde) descended from wealthy cotton manufacturers, and his wife (Lucy) Cecilia Dunn-Gardner, later Countess of Scarbrough, and stepdaughter of the 10th Earl of Scarbrough.


As Dorothy Wellesley, the name she took after her marriage to Lord Gerald Wellesley, was the author of more than ten books, mostly of poetry, but including also Sir George Goldie, Founder of Nigeria (1934), and Far Have I Travelled (1952). She was editor for Hogarth Press of the Hogarth Living Poets series. She also edited The Annual in 1929.

According to W. B. Yeats, Wellesley was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.{{Fact|date=January 2009}} "Within two minutes of our first meeting at my house he said: ‘You must sacrifice everything and everyone to your poetry'"[2]. Yeats scholar R.F. Foster, however, has written that she was "a moderately accomplished if minor poet" though adding that "the quality of some of her work has been vindicated by time".[3]

She was introduced to Yeats in 1935, and he eventually would edit and revise her poems well as soliciting her comments on his works. Together they edited the second series of Broadsides in 1937, and she would be at Yeats's deathbed in 1939.


Dorothy Ashton married Lord Gerald Wellesley (later 7th Duke of Wellington), on 30 April 1914; they separated in 1922 but did not divorce.

They had two children:

  1. Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, b. 2 July 1915
  2. Lady Elizabeth Wellesley, b. 26 December 1918


Dorothy Wellesley became the lover of Vita Sackville-West, for whom she left her husband and children in 1922, according to a memoir published in 2009 by her granddaughter, Lady Jane Wellesley.[4] After that relationship ended, she became the lover and longtime companion of Hilda Matheson (1888-1940), a BBC producer with whom she shared a Sussex cottage called "Penns-in-the-Rocks".[5]


The Duchess of Wellington died at Withyham in Sussex. After her death, her widower proposed to her half-sister Lady Serena James (widow of his former brother-in-law the Hon. Robert James), but she refused him.[6]


  1. Vita Sackville-West, ‘Wellesley , Dorothy Violet, duchess of Wellington (1889–1956)’, rev. Clare L. Taylor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 22 Oct 2008
  2. Letters on Poetry from W. B. Yeats to Dorothy Wellesley (1940, Oxford University Press) edited by Kathleen Raine
  3. R.F. Foster, "W.B. Yeats" (Oxford University Press, 2003), page 530
  4. Lady Jane Wellesley, "Wellington: A Journey Through My Family" (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009)
  5. R.F. Foster, "W.B. Yeats" (Oxford University Press, 2003), page 528
  6. Obituary of Lady Serena James, nee Lumley


  • Letters on Poetry from W. B. Yeats to Dorothy Wellesley (1940, Oxford University Press) edited by Kathleen Raine