March 25, 2012

{To Marry an English Lord}

In light of the popularity of the BBC costume drama, "Downton Abbey," authors Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace have re-released their wonderfully entertaining and well-researched book, To Marry an English Lord. I discovered the original book from 1989 when I was researching a presentation I gave at the Atlanta Historical Society. And now it appears that the book was also one of the inspirations for Julian Fellowes, author of "Downton Abbey."

Here is what was said when the book was first released:

In 1895, nine American girls, including a Vanderbilt (railroads), LaRoche (phamaceuticals), Rogers (oil), and Whitney (New York trolleys), married peers of the British new money, among them a duke, an earl, three barons and a knight. It was a peak year of a social phenomenon that began when the entrenched members of Old New York snubbed these "new money" families following the Civil War, sending them off to England in quest of class and bequeathing to us Anglomania, Preppy, the Jet Set, and even Princess Di.

And here is what is said about the re-released 2012 version of To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery:

Consuelo Vanderbilt,
later Duchess of Marlborough
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.

So before the new Season Two of "Downton Abbey" begins next fall, treat yourself by reading a copy of To Marry an English Lord. As well as tiding you over 'til the next season, you'll also learn the real story of this lavish American-English connection! ~

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