The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York by Anne de Courcy - review by Anne Sebba

Anne Sebba

Rank & Style

The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 307pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Between 1870 and 1914 approximately 450 American girls married titled Europeans, more than a hundred of them bagging British aristocrats. Gossip columnists considered this an invasion, not so much because of the numbers but because these young women were better educated, better dressed, sassier, often sexier and certainly wealthier than their British sisters. It was a phenomenon that magazines such as Titled Americans, a New York quarterly with a list of eligible noblemen at the back, and enterprising marriage brokers in cities from New Orleans to New York latched on to in the lucrative scramble to help the girls find their perfect match. What was going on?

As the landed classes in England suffered from repeatedly poor harvests, falling revenues and insufficient income to run their estates, with entailment preventing them from selling off even parcels of land, capturing a wealthy American heiress offered obvious benefits. This was especially true before the Married Women’s Property Act of

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