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New book by UNG history professor documents a social rebel

"Love, Madness and Scandal: The Life of Frances Coke Villiers, Viscountess Purbeck" is the new book by Dr. Johanna Luthman, a history professor at UNG.

Frances Coke Villiers was, by any measure, a stubborn woman. In an era where women were seen and rarely heard, she refused to be silenced by those in power attempting to subjugate her.

In 17th century England, women were treated no better than property, forced into arranged, often loveless marriages to strengthen ties between powerful families or form alliances between nations. But Villiers went her own way, enduring heartache, humiliation and betrayal in search of true love.

Dr. Johanna Luthman, a history professor at the University of North Georgia (UNG), documents Villiers tumultuous, but brief life (she died at age 43) in her new book, "Love, Madness and Scandal: The Life of Frances Coke Villiers, Viscountess Purbeck".

Luthman first documented Villiers' tale in a chapter in her first book, "Love, Lust and License in Early Modern England: Illicit Sex and the Nobility". Impressed by Villiers' stubbornness in resisting traditional societal norms for women in that era, Luthman spent four years researching and writing about "the drama that was her life."

"Her life story is very similar to Princess Diana's," said Luthman. "Both married at a young age, thrown into a situation with little control of their own lives, forced to grow up in the public eye, and died in what was the prime of their lives."

Luthman was the recipient of a UNG Presidential Summer Incentive Award in 2014, allowing her to complete the book, which, she said, has received mostly positive reviews. She teaches on the history of early modern Europe, English history, and the history of sex, love and marriage. Luthman has both a bachelor's and master's degree in history from Georgia State University, and a doctorate in history from Emory University.

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