The Maud Allan Affair

what is the truth behind
‘the libel case of the century’?

by Russell James
published by Pen & Sword Books
ISBN 978-1-84468-041-2
Also available for KINDLE

Click to see more: The Maud Allan Affair

“You’ll be hooked by this book…
…Brilliant.” – Daily Express

Was there a lesbian relationship between Maud Allan and Margot Asquith, wife of the previous Prime Minister? What was the plot against the government? How far were the government and secret service involved? Was the ‘Black Book’ genuine and, if so, what secrets did it contain? And at the trial, who was the surprise witness, the shadowy woman whose evidence caused a sensation and came close to bringing down the government?

These questions and more are tackled in The Maud Allan Affair, a ‘fictography’.  (A ‘fictography’ is a fictionalised biography, a story that blends the lives and actions of fictional characters with those of real and well-known people.) The Maud Allan Affair begins in 1908 and ends after the dust has settled, in 1919. Much of the novel is set during the First World War, and it climaxes with several chapters based on transcripts from the trial.

In 1908, a hundred years ago, Britain rocked to stories of the King’s mistress dancing a striptease on the London stage. Maud Allan was an ‘artistic dancer’ and rumour had it that her affair with King Edward began after a private performance in Marienbad at which she danced before him naked. Now, at London’s Palace Theatre, she would perform her notorious Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome, and once again she would reveal everything – to the general public!

But Fate was waiting to take revenge on her. A decade later, in the dying months of the First World War, she became embroiled in what for years was called ‘the libel case of the century’. So shocking – and for the public, so entertaining – was the case that for several days it shared newspaper headlines with worrying war news from the Front in France. She had been libelled, she said, by a maverick right-wing MP, Noel Pemberton Billing, who in a small-circulation paper, the Vigilante, had named her in a boxed paragraph headed The Cult of the Clitoris.

What she didn’t know was that Billing, desperate for publicity, had deliberately courted the trial and that he meant to use it to expose so-called sins and traitors among the highest in the land, including the late King’s mistress, and the wife of the last Prime Minister. He had a ‘Black Book’, he said, from the German secret service, naming names. Maud didn’t know it, but Billing’s intended targets did – and were determined to stop him.

Maud Allan found herself caught up in a tangled series of plots and counterplots involving on the one hand the royal family and two prime ministers, and on the other a series of bizarre and unreliable ‘witnesses’ called by the MP – including two supposed ‘agents of the secret service’, a ranting preacher, and the notorious Lord Alfred Douglas. Presiding over the case was a famously erratic judge. Behind the scenes, the government wanted to stifle Billing’s publicity. More importantly, Lloyd George had become aware that a plot was in hand to unseat his war cabinet and to effect a take-over by a military cabal. All of this intertwined with and quickly took over what should have been a simple straightforward trial.

‘No lawsuit of modern times has attracted such universal and painful interest as the deplorable libel action which terminated yesterday at the Central Criminal Court,’ declared the Times. ‘Every well-proved canon of British fair play was frankly disregarded.’ Special interests, behind-the-scenes conspiracies and judicial incompetence made a travesty of the trial. The villain became the hero and the abused, Maud Allan, became the victim.

Now read her story . . . Click The Maud Allan Affair


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