Long before the feminist movement emerged, a woman at the height of nineteenth-century English society determined to live her life in a way she saw fit, casting aside boundaries usually judged suitable for a "mere woman." Her name was Hester Lucy Stanhope and her "crime of being independent" took her from 10, Downing Street, where she ruled with biting wit as her uncle Pitt the Younger's official hostess, to a self-imposed journey into exile, which ended in a fortified ex-convent upon the slopes of Mount Lebanon. It was from here that she established herself, by mixing political intrigue with the occult, as the region's third power.Many biographies have covered aspects of the paradoxical life of this extraordinary woman. However, all but the first (written under family censorship by her niece, the Duchess of Cleveland) have been undertaken in the hope of achieving commercial success, and thus have suffered from a tendency to ignore "inconvenient" facts. Moreover, many collections of correspondence have surfaced since the last serious biography by Joan Haslip in 1934, which throw new light on almost every aspect of Lady Hester's life.