Behind her application lay the sensational claim that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the - now dead - Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce's coffin would be found to be empty, making her children the heirs to the Portland millions.
The legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England.
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse is available now in eBook and Hardback and on 7th May 2015 in Paperback.