Hugh Massingberd

‘VVSITPQ’

Last Curtsey: The End of the English Debutante

By

Faber & Faber 281pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

In the 1960s, much against my inclinations, I found myself on the fringes of what still passed as ‘the debutante Season’ and formed a jaundiced view of the whole tawdry business. In my priggish way, I couldn’t fathom why my boss Peter Townend, a Northern card then editing Burke’s publications, elected to exercise his encyclopaedic knowledge gratifying the social aspirations of pushy debs’ mums and gormless debs’ delights instead of applying himself to serious genealogical scholarship. I remember shying away from his kind offer to put me on his ‘List’ of eligible escorts. Now, looking back from forty years on and having read Fiona MacCarthy’s perceptive, witty and stimulating social history of the deb Season, I realise that my narrow-minded prejudices and inverted snobbery may have cut me off from experiencing something of life’s rich pageant.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,