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Katharine 'Kitty' O'Shea
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Mistress
    (January 30, 1846-February 5, 1921)
    Born in Braintree, Essex, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was Katharine Brown
    Also known as Katie O'Shea
    British gentlewoman and aristocrat
    Daughter of Sir John Page Wood, 2nd Baronet (1796–1866)
    Granddaughter of Sir Matthew Wood, former Lord Mayor of London
    Married Captain William O'Shea, a Catholic Nationalist MP for County Clare, (1867)
    Later separated from Captain O'Shea, around 1875
    Carried on a decades-long adulterous affair with Irish Parliament leader Charles Stewart Parnell
    Secret affair led to a widely publicized divorce (1890) and the eventual downfall of Parnell's political career
    Known after her second marriage as Katharine Parnell
    Long known as the 'Most Hated Woman in Ireland'
    Portrayed by Francesca Annis in the BBC Drama miniseries, 'Parnell and the Englishwoman' (1991)
    Her nickname is Victorian slang for 'lady of the night' (a prostitute).
    In some circles of Irish society, she was a more loathed figure than Charles Trevelyan.
    She had an affair with a Parliamentary leader - the 'uncrowned King of Ireland' no less - and the affair ruined his reputation.
    Parnell called her his 'wifie' even when she was still legally married to another man (she, in turn, called him 'my king').
    Her husband knew of the affair and used her wealthy aunt to finance his political career.
    Because Parnell had come closer than any other leader to securing Irish independence, through the Irish Home Rule Bill, she received most of the blame for the bill's failure.
    A running joke among members of the Irish Parliament, after Parnell's political demise, was 'who is going to be the mistress of the party' in response to the question as to who would be the 'new master' of the party.
    She lost custody of her children with Parnell to her ex-husband.
    The release of her 1914 memoirs reignited scandal when she revealed that she had intimate and first-hand involvement in Parnell's political affairs.
    Her affair with Parnell inspired a biopic starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy that was included in the Medved brothers' book 'The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time.'
    She is the namesake for numerous pubs, bars, and restaurants throughout England and the United States.
    She died both in virtual poverty and in relative obscurity, as a jilted old recluse.
    Her affair with Parnell had been a poorly kept secret and common knowledge in high society. The subsequent outrage over the affair being made public revealed the hypocritical nature of the Victorian upper class.
    Their love story, and the letters they exchanged over a ten year period, has become the stuff of legend.
    She reportedly acted as a liaison between Parnell and Prime Minister William Gladstone during early negotiations for the Irish Home Bill.
    She gave birth to hers and Parnell's first child, Claude-Sophie, while he was a political prisoner in London.
    That the child died shortly after he was born had to be tremendous injury piled on injury for the two of them.
    Her first husband married her primarily for her money, as he believed that her rich aunt would die soon and bequeath her money to Katharine.
    When her aunt died, so did their marriage, especially after Captain O'Shea discovered he would inherit nothing. He filed for divorce, naming Parnell as a correspondent, setting off a scandal at the most inopportune moment.
    She was subjected to gross misogyny in the press, even for a politician's 'mistress.'
    Despite the scandal, she and Parnell still were married. He died less than one year later from cancer, allegedly passing away in her arms.
    Its a bit of a stretch to argue that she was the sole obstacle preventing the creation of an independent Irish nation (not the least because Parnell's own single-minded stubbornness presented a problem).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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