The Unlikely Countess.

By Louise Carpenter

Printed: 2004

Publisher: Harper Collins. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

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A vivid and moving portrait of the inimitable Lily Budge, who overcame poverty and class to become the 13th Countess of Galloway, and one of Scotland’s most colourful eccentrics.Randolph Stewart was lobotomized as a teenager after a crude diagnosis of schizophrenia. When the operation went wrong, he was hidden away by his aristocratic parents in a mental institution and then taken in by a sect of monks. By the time Lily Budge met him in 1975, he appeared a shy and lonely tramp. In reality he was the future Earl of Galloway, heir to a fortune and a title considered to be linchpin of the Scottish establishment. Lily, an extroverted character from a working-class family, would join him in a powerful bond of love that challenged conventions, made national headlines, and led to enormous heartache. A vibrant portrait of 20th-century Scotland, ‘An Unlikely Countess’ is also a profile of two unforgettable characters, and the doomed love that they shared.


————-   ‘A spirited and sensitive account of one of the strangest lives imaginable. Louise Carpenter’s portrait of the life of Lily Budge is a classic of its kind: elegantly written, with a rare eye for detail and a shrewd and warm understanding of its extraordinary subject.’ William Boyd

————-   ‘Louise Carpenter tells this sensational story without ever exaggerating its more eye-catching excesses. She is sensitive to all sides…a serious and profoundly moving book.’ Independent on Sunday

———-    ‘An entertaining and moving memorial to [Lily’s] indomitable, colourful character. Wonderful.’ Telegraph

————-   ‘Louise Carpenter is a biographer of real promise…Her account of this oddly matched couple struggling to get along in Britain’s high society is often amusing, sometimes touching…Painstakingly researched and very readable.’ Scottish Herald

Review: I lived for two years in the same community as Randolph Galloway and was extremely fond of him. I have two or three of his paintings, which are unique, and to me, quite beautiful.. Nobody who knows Randolph could fail to be moved by this book. It tells the story of how he and Lily Budge came together, which I did not know about except through hearsay when we lived in the community.( Certainly by that time Randolph and Lily were not together.) Lily may have been unstable and unpredictable, but she clearly had a good heart, and Randolph needed that more than anything. His childhood must have been a complete nightmare for him – mainly because nobody could possibly understand the way he was experiencing and processing the world around him. Randolph was a sweet and eccentric person who almost certainly suffered from the hypersensitivity that comes with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was a bit worried that the author might not be accurate or respectful towards Randolph or his story, but I am very moved to see that she has captured his character and his manner of speaking so very well. I was also expecting that the book might not be very well written, but it is in fact, beautifully written and researched to the minutest detail. Well done Louise Carpenter! Please read this lovely book if you want a story about meeting differences with tolerance,respect and appreciation.


Randolph Keith Reginald Stewart, 13th Earl of Galloway, Lord of Garlies, Baronet of Corsewell and Burray (14 October 1928 – 27 March 2020) was a Scottish nobleman. Stewart was born in October 1928, the only son of the 12th Earl of Galloway and his American wife Philippa Wendell. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic (this diagnosis later rejected as having been hastily made and inaccurate) at a young age, and subjected to insulin coma therapy. It is possible that had he been born today his behaviour would have been recognised as autistic. He was educated at Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar, and at Harrow School in London. In 1952, at the age of twenty-three, his parents had him lobotomised in an attempt to control his behaviour. The lobotomy changed him forever; “I was never the same again” he told an interviewer.  After this surgery, he spent the next 15 years in the mental wing of the Crichton Royal Infirmary, in Dumfries. In 1970 his parents placed him in the Monastery of the Transfiguration, in Roslin, Midlothian.

On 17 October 1975, he married Lily May Budge (b. 1916), from a working-class family from Duns, Berwickshire. Her father was a groom; her mother wove blankets. Budge had been married twice before, and already had four children, one of them adopted. His parents strongly disapproved of the marriage, and his father, the 12th Earl, went so far as to attempt to buy Budge out of the marriage. He died in 1978, leaving Randolph the title and little else, having written him out of his will. With his wife’s support, the couple moved to London and Randolph claimed his seat in the House of Lords. However, due to his mental condition and subsequent surgery, Lord Galloway proved to be an inept politician, and the couple soon moved back to Edinburgh, where the Earl’s mental state continued to deteriorate. At this point he started to become violent, twice attacking members of the public and once his wife the Countess. Looking back on these acts he described them as “A disgraceful, disgusting, dishonourable and downgrading performance on my part”. The Countess died in 1999 with the marriage childless. On his death, the Earldom and its associated Lordships and Baronetcies passed to Andrew Clyde Stewart, who is the great-great-grandson of the 9th Earl and thus Randolph’s second cousin once removed. Stewart died in March 2020 at the age of 91. His death was not announced until the following month.

About the Author – Louise Carpenter was born in 1970 and grew up in Essex. She read English Literature at the University of London and worked as assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph Magazine, where she is now a writer and contributing editor. She lives in Bath with her family.

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