Lady Mary Coke was born on 2 February 1726, the youngest daughter of John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich. In 1747 she married Edward, Viscount Coke, only son of Thomas, Earl of Leicester. After two years of constant disagreement they separated, after which he died in 1753. A wealthy widow, Lady Mary moved to Notting Hill in 1767, where she took up residence at Aubrey House, close to Holland Park. Nicknamed the ‘White Cat’ on account of her albino colouring and passion for gossip – the cattier the better – she remained here for 22 years. Apart from court gossip and politics, Lady Mary dearly loved her garden, which in those days extended almost as far as Holland Park Avenue. These interests, together with such familiar topics as disputes with neighbours, vandalism, the ill health of royals, flooding and the inconveniences of having builders in the house, are reflected in these extracts from her letters and journals. Lady Mary remained in Aubrey House until 1788 and died, still a widow, in the Manor House at Chiswick in 1811. She is buried in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey. The four volumes of her writings from which these extracts are taken were edited by the Hon JA Home and published in 1889–96.