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To Marry an English Lord [Kindle Edition]

Gail MacColl , Carol McD. Wallace
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (412 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

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.

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 8100 KB
  • Print Length: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Reprint edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078X2LMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
196 of 201 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes you into Another time.... March 10, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I already own the 1989 out-of-print version of 'To Marry an English Lord' in my collection and its one of my absolute favorites! So when I saw that it was going to be republished I thought that there was going to be new information or pictures (and possibly a color section), but I was mistaken, the only thing new is the lovely cover of Consuelo Vanderbilt-Balsan. On the flip side, I am happy to have it nonetheless, and thanks to the great success of Downton Abbey and Julian Fellowes, this gem may have never been back on the shelves.

Without giving too much away, the book is full of pictures and information of everything you need to know about the many American heiresses who went across the waters (some by force)to marry a money-poor, land-rich English peer during the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. There is also plenty of background information and images of the American, Victorian, and Edwardian high societies, as well as enlightening and amusing facts concerning these Aristocratic American ladies and their British spouses. In the back there is even a directory of every American heiress (that is at least known) to have married into the English aristocracy.
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152 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun history book you will ever read! September 28, 2002
Format:Paperback
"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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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a World! What a World! January 18, 2004
Format:Paperback
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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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Glitter and the Gold April 22, 2012
Format:Paperback
On November 6, 1895 at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in New York City, a groom waited at the altar for a bride who appeared to be delayed. The groom was no ordinary groom, but Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough; the bride he waited for was the American railroad heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt. The wedding was considered a triumph for both families, since the Duke would be delivered from his debts by Consuelo's millions, while Consuelo would gain a noble title. It was all the work of Consuelo's mother Alva, who coerced her teenage daughter into agreeing to marry the Duke. Now there have been many arranged marriages between well-to-do people in the history of the world, but usually they were intended to form necessary political alliances. The Marlborough-Vanderbilt marriage had as its main purpose the exaltation of Alva's vanity by enhancing her social status. As for Consuelo, she kept her groom waiting at the altar for twenty minutes as she cried her eyes out in sheer misery.

In the re-release of their book To Marry An English Lord, Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace include the stories of many wealthy American girls who went to England in pursuit of a titled husband. Unlike Consuelo Vanderbilt, most were eager to marry into British high society and some, like Jennie Jerome, who married Lord Randolph Churchill with whom she had fallen in love, were very eager indeed. The book traces the tendency of American heiresses to marry abroad to the rigidity of the old New York Knickerbocker aristocrats who would not tolerate new money families like the Vanderbilts, the Jeromes, the Leiters, the Iznagas to join the ranks of the established Four Hundred. All the money in the world could not force certain exclusive doors to open.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars but dull in places
Really learned a lot about the rich American heiresses that were sent to Europe to marry a titled man. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lana23
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy turn of the century NYC trivia
A very elucidating book about turn of the century American heiresses and their parents' attempts to find titled Europeans for their marriages! Read more
Published 9 days ago by Katherine E. Irvine
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
very interesting and amusing.
Published 10 days ago by Shaina Pollack
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting if you like to read about people and history!
Very interesting from a social and historical perspective. Abundant photos and descriptions!
Published 19 days ago by G.A. Hankins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting read, especially if you watch Downton Abbey.
Published 21 days ago by N. L. H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 23 days ago by me
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Downton Abbey
Packed with interesting facts of society of the wealthy aristocrats of England and New York City. If you like Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this because it gives a lot of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by nancy hoesel
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as expected
The premise was interesting. It covers a time when American Heiresses were marrying English landowners. So many of the English Manor houses were on the verge of bankruptcy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Madonna J
4.0 out of 5 stars insight
While after a while I lost interest because it felt like the book was taking me in circles and reexplaining covered material, it was nice to get to peek into this era. Read more
Published 1 month ago by maturibooks
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
just not the best I've read
Published 2 months ago by cynthia pearcy
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