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To Marry an English Lord [Paperback]

Gail MacColl , Carol McD. Wallace
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 15 2012
From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles--just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details--plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette--To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.

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To Marry an English Lord + Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey + The World of Downton Abbey
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This delightful account of how American heiresses in the post-Civil War era packed up their trunks and went husband-hunting in England demonstrates that our national infatuation with British aristocracy is nothing new. The young women had good looks and big bucks; the often debt-ridden Brits had titles, castles and a society that was "more stimulating and more permissive, more leisurely and more sophisticated than Old New York." MacColl and Wallace (editor of and contributor to, respectively, The Preppy Handbook ) chronicle the lives of the rich and famous on both sides of the ocean, dishing up spicy gossip, pithy social commentary (by 1910, "Society in America became more sure of itself. Social climbers no longer needed titles for legitimacy") and obscure historical tidbits (because they were almost never allowed to sit in Queen Victoria's presence, her ladies-in-waiting "habitually bought shoes a size too big since their feet swelled so badly"). The book also includes witty profiles of leading American ladies and their British lords, piquant period photographs and handy tips on proper etiquette, such as "Any man who reverses changes the direction in which he's spinning his partner during a waltz is a cad." BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Large fortunes were made in post-Civil War America. Young heiresses, cold-shouldered by an entrenched aristocracy that scorned new money, looked across the sea to find husbands among titled young Englishmen who were long on status but very short of cash. Nancy Astor and Jennie Churchill are the most famous of more than 100 of these trans-Atlantic brides. This light-hearted bit of social history is lavishly illustrated and bedecked with sidebars and boxes of charts, lively quotes, and other supplementary material. A full register of these enterprising young ladies and a "Walking Tour" are included. Not only fun, but a definitive round-up of the players. Recommended.
- Nancy C. Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My very favorite history book! July 2 2004
By Megan
Who says that history is boring and stuffy? This well-researched book is chock full of anecdotes, pictures, and facts to make the period and the subject come to life.
This book discusses the phenomenon of the "dollar princesses": American hieresses who married into titles abroad, particularly England. Amongst them were Winston Churchill's mother; a woman who was the second-highest ranking woman in the British empire (after only the queen); and maybe the most famous of all: Consuelo Vanderbuilt, who begrudgingly became the Duchess of Marlborough in a marriage aranged by her social-climbing mother.
Written informally, with lots of pictures, this might be a great book to buy a teenager who is just transitioning into "grown-up" non-fiction, but finds most of it dry and uninteresting. It is also a must-read for anyone who plans on traveling to country-houses in England, as it gives a more accurate view of what it was like to actually have to live in one of those monstrosities! Anyone who is interested in the history of class in America, or of the British Aristocracy, would also be interested.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a World! What a World! Jan. 18 2004
Those few of us who have wondered why in the world a comfortable, cosseted American girl would want to marry an Englishman and live in a cold climate in an even colder stone castle will find answers here, even if the answers aren't satisfactory to the modern ear.
Think of it: wealthy American society girls, products of generations of men and women who gave lives and fortunes to escape a Royalist society, thought it a worthy investment of their lives, loves and wealth to buy an English title in the form of a husband. It's understandable that men who have no money and are saddled with huge estates and titles with no way to support themselves "in the manner to which they have become accustomed" would search out these women. It's another matter to understand the women, especially if they were bright and energetic (like the fabled Jenny Jerome).
Of course the first women to get involved in this weird method of social climbing didn't realize what was involved. (Though why American society decided that an English title was important in the United States, especially if it could be bought with money, still escapes me.) The problems included loveless husbands who paid little attention to their wives and carried on affairs; cold and drafty castles into which Papa sank tons of money to no avail as far as comfort was concerned; families who refused to accept them in spite (or because) of the fact that they provided the money to keep the lifestyle intact; servants who often were sulky and rebellious ("but we've ALWAYS done it that way"); children they handed over to nannies. The first brides must have kept the hardships and loneliness from the succeeding generation, for the rage for English titles prevailed from the mid-19th century almost through the mid-20th century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating view into a world gone by... Nov. 8 2002
Every time I read this book it becomes more and more interesting. Meticulously researched, with great little anecdotes and etiquette tips.
This book is a lot of fun! I especially liked the many photographs of the designer gowns (most by Worth, if you please!) that are liberally scattered throughout.
If you're ananglophile you'll want to get this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read--fun and light history July 8 2002
By A Customer
Every time I picked this book up--just to browse for a few minutes--I found myself pulled in to the story of all of those girls and their families, and the men they were after, who were also after them, to the point where I'd have to force myself to put the book down when it was time to do something else. The book is a light read, with lots of side-boxes explaining everything from the background of a Worth gown, to calling card etiquette, to the cost of running an English country estate. I have bought dozens of books from Amazon and have never felt compelled to write a review before. This book gets my 100% endorsement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun history book you will ever read! Sept. 28 2002
"To Marry An English Lord" may sound like a how-to guide, but it is really one of the most fascinating history books on the English Peerage ever written. This book specifically follows the migration of rich American girls to England and, subsequently, to marrying a member of the English peerage. It also reveals life in both England and America at the dawn of the 20th century. This book contains the most fascinating and seldom-explored facts from the period, and really takes an in-depth look at the everyday lives of the privileged during the Gilded Age. If for nothing else, buy this book for the pictures! With cartoons, photographs, maps and paintings, you get a visual guide to the period. This book is so well organized that practically every page gives you detailed information on a specific subject, and a picture to illustrate it. Most pages also have small factoids that are some of the best parts of the book. Certainly the best part of the book is how it follows a few American heiresses throughout the book, which really makes you care about the 'characters' and gives you the full story: from start to finish. If you love Victorian/Edwardian history, or the English Peerage, you will absolutely love this book. I refer to it almost once a week and enjoy re-reading it whenever I have some spare time!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars All you ever wanted to know about marrying into the aristocracy
A delightful book, mixing history with a humorous look at social mores. Its sub-title - Tales of Wealth, Marriage, Sex and Snobbery perfectly describes its contents. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Valerie Fletcher Adolph
3.0 out of 5 stars My kingdom for an editor!
Enjoyable stories, but very sloppily copy edited and uneven writing. Some names were spelled four different ways, and that lack of attention spoiled it for me.
Published 6 months ago by Barbara Holmes
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely from a different time
This was a different book to read. It was somewhat disconnected in that it jumped all over the place. But overall, it was a good book to read.
Published 9 months ago by Zoogirl2
5.0 out of 5 stars Ladies to England
Absolutely fascinating and even more so because it's true. Smart American ladies (for the most part) marrying wastrel English "royalty" who never had to work at anything... Read more
Published 15 months ago by James G Frey
1.0 out of 5 stars A book for those with little or no knowledge of 19th early 20th...
for those who know some history, a far better read is "Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey". The book is written and the content is very interesting.
Published 18 months ago by Vera
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting
Extremely interesting covering the love lives & customs of marriage & courting on both sides of the Atlantic
Lots of photos , easy read
Published 19 months ago by danusiaf
4.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Fun!
If you have ever imagined yourself married to a duke or even just an earl, this is the book for you! It's wonderful. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2002 by A. Lord
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun to read and very informative
Even if you're not a fan of Edith Wharton or Henry James novels, there is something for everyone in this book. Read more
Published on July 28 2002 by Lover of Mysteries
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