The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy by Anne de Courcy

The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy by Anne de Courcy
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A deliciously told group biography of the young, rich, American heiresses who married into the impoverished British aristocracy at the turn of the twentieth century – the real women who inspired Downton Abbey

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and for the first few years of the twentieth, a strange invasion took place in Britain. The citadel of power, privilege and breeding in which the titled, land-owning governing class had barricaded itself for so long was breached. The incomers were a group of young women who, fifty years earlier, would have been looked on as the alien denizens of another world – the New World, to be precise. From 1874 – the year that Jennie Jerome, the first known ‘Dollar Princess’, married Randolph Churchill – to 1905, dozens of young American heiresses married into the British peerage, bringing with them all the fabulous wealth, glamour and sophistication of the Gilded Age.

Anne de Courcy sets the stories of these young women and their families in the context of their times. Based on extensive first-hand research, drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters, this richly entertaining group biography reveals what they thought of their new lives in England – and what England thought of them.

These women wanted to find husbands and they were willing to stop at nothing to get them.

I picked up this book because I wanted to know more about the women who desired to marry up at the turn of the century. I’m glad I read this. It’s informative and fascinating how these women went looking for men to marry, but it’s also fascinating how the men didn’t stop until they found the one they wanted, too. It’s entertaining because there’s so much wealth being tossed around, but sad because many of these women didn’t know what they were getting into. They were destined for lives of loneliness and running a household instead of being lavished with luxury. I liked how some of the women figured out how to make this work for them and even made the situation even better.

I have to admit there is a lot of excess on display among these people. They knew how to travel to the hilt and how to showcase their wealth. At times, it was over the top. I mean, disgustingly so. But it was how they were raised and of the times. One really did wear a necklace with a gigantic sapphire on the end that was essentially kicked when they walked…because luxury. Show the wealth. I don’t blame the author, but the topic. The people in this book were essentially disgustingly rich.

If you’re interested in a snapshot of times gone by with a lot of wealth and vivid descriptions, then this book might be for you,

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.