On Tuesday 10th April, there will be a NADFAS lecture presented by Anne Sebba BA (Hons), entitled The Dollar Princesses: American women who married into the European aristocracy and whose wealth helped preserve houses and estates.
The Gilded Age was the post-Civil-War period when a new generation of powerful industrial magnates emerged in America. These captains of industry became phenomenally wealthy. They could buy all the gold and the glitter for their families but not social status. In the 19th century, the nouveaux riches were not accepted in the old Knickerbocker New York society and soon turned further east to realise their social ambitions.
From 1870 until the First World War, throngs of incredibly rich, beautiful and smartly dressed American girls dubbed the ‘Dollar Princesses’ crossed the Atlantic in search of titled husbands. 454 landed their quarry but only 100 managed to marry into the British peerage. The rest settled for Continental European aristocrats.
The biggest catches were the British peers of the realm (in descending order of rank) either a Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, or Baron.
You’d think from all the romance novels there was an abundance of Dukes. But there are actually only 27 Dukedoms and at any one time, just 2-3 heirs are ‘available.’ Six American girls did marry Dukes- five were heiresses (the sixth was a showgirl). In turn, the peers not only gained wives to begat their heirs but more importantly, to refill their empty coffers. Keeping up appearances and owning a castle or two was an expensive business.
About Anne Sebba
Anne is a biographer, lecturer, journalist and former Reuters foreign correspondent. Her first job was at the BBC World Services in the Arabic Department. She has written eight books, several short stories and introductions to reprinted novels. She is a member of the Society of Authors Executive Committee and is working on a biography of Wallis Simpson.
Visitors are most welcome at this presentation. Other NADFAS Society Members & Students €5, Non Members €10. For further information please telephone Ali Durston 952 533 373
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