Ishbel and Empire


Lady Ishbel, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, was born into an affluent and politically active London family. She came to Ottawa as the wife of Lord Aberdeen, newly appointed Governor General, in 1893.

A born leader leader of women, she lent the weight of her position to a multitude of causes – both political and social. Her ardent support for the Leader of the Opposition, Wilfrid Laurier, and the controversial role played by the Governor General in the selection of Canada’s seventh Prime Minister remain intriguing questions today.

The Aberdeens served a second viceregal term in Ireland during the troubled years from 1905 to 1916. On their return to England, despite declining family fortunes, Lady Aberdeen continued to work determinedly for both political and social reform.


French’s book is exhaustively researched and vividly written and from her work emerges a portrait of a woman who was unique in her time and certainly no mere decoration at her husband’s side.

Monarchy Canada

A REAL find for Canadian history buffs, Ishbel and the an engrossing biography of Lady Aberdeen. ..Soundly researched and vividly written.

The Hamilton Spectator

A warm and compassionate biography of Lady Aberdeen... French’s book is an engrossing account of Ishbel’s eventful life from the cradle to her death...the description of many social and political events bound up in the life of this outstanding woman adds further charm to the biography.

Canadian Materials

Doris French has given readers a detailed, colourful portrait of the life of Lady Aberdeen. The accomplishments of this seemingly Victorian lady were surprisingly modern.

Glebe Report

We feel that we travel with French as she got to know and love Lady Aberdeen and this is one of the ways that the book gives us Lady Aberdeen as a living woman. Do read it. Ishbel was quite a gal and Canadians should get to know her.

The Beaver

[French] has an eye for detail, a grasp of the nuance of drawing-room behaviour and conversation, and an appreciation of innuendo both substantive and unsubstantiated.

American Review of Canadian Studies

To the student of 1890’s Canadian cultural history, there is much interest here.

Canadian Literature

About the Author