'No-one probably, ever felt himself to be more alone in the world than our old friend, the Duke of Omnium, when the Duchess died.' Her death leaves to the Duke the care of his three wilful children and to the children the continuing social education of their father. The eldest, LordSilverbridge, has been sent down from Oxford; Lord Gerald Palliser is doing indifferently well at Cambridge; and Lady Mary Palliser, the only daughter, is set on what seems to her father an unsuitable marriage. While the Duke must learn to accept that 'nothing will ever be quite what it used to be', his heir must acquire, his father hopes, a respect for justice, self-sacrifice, and honour, and a suitable wife. The rival claims of Lady Mabel Grex and Isabel Boncassen, the American granddaughter of adock-worker, are emblematic of the claims on the Palliser family: tradition against progress, duty against natural feelings. The Duke's Children is the sixth and last of the Palliser novels (1864-80), which together provide an exceptionally rich expose of the British way of life during its most prestigious period.