Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style
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Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  28 reviews
"If people turn to look at you in the street, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable." -- Beau Brummell

Long before tabloids and television, Beau Brummell was the first person famous for being famous, the male socialite of his time, the first metrosexual -- 200 years before the word was conceived. His name has become synonymous with wi...more
Hardcover, 393 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Free Press (first published 2005)
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An engaging biography of the Beau, the famous fashion arbiter of Regency England, and the man responsible for the modern men's suit. He's the reason that men are considered most formally dressed in a black tuxedo and a white tie.

The writing is shaky in the early chapters, when the author is relating what little is known about Brummell's youth, but the narrative becomes more confident when Brummell enters society. At this point the book assumes an interesting structure: the story of Brummell's 15...more
First: Do not be frightened by the apparent length of this biography. Nearly 100 pages are citations and indexes. In my edition, the actual biography clocked in at 312 pages.

This is probably the most complete biography of Beau Brummell -- the first celebrity famous for being famous and for dressing really really well. Of course, Brummell was more than that - he actually created modern dress for men, ruled the British social scene for a few short years, and his wit was as sharp as his dress sense...more
Bill  Kerwin

This biography of George "Beau" Brummel, is well-planned and elegantly written, and I believe tells you everything you need to know about the abiter elegantarium of the Regency, the first of the dandies, the inventor of the modern men's suit, and precursor of today's metrosexual. It begins with his early years, with an emphasis on Eton and the Prince's Dragoons (the uniforms of both influenced the Beau's sartorial creations) and ends with his final years as a French exile, chronicling in painful...more
Oh, I loved this book! It's nearly impossible to put down, it has great descriptions of places, everyday life, food, morals and people who were shown with great compassion and, ultimately, as much less shallow and uncaring than they seemed - not only the hero of the book, but also his friends and acquaintances, well maybe except the prince regent.

I didn't know a whole lot about Beau Brummell, apart from the fact that he was the real arbiter elegantiarum of Regency England and that his rise and f...more
This impressive tomb is as every bit informative about the life of Beau Brummell as it is an entertaining story of the rise and fall of celebrity. It is stunning to see history repeat itself constantly after this man of fashion. Brummell, a style icon, ultimately a celebrity for no real reason is worshiped and then discarded like many stars today.

I found that this book was not just a story about Brummell's life, the beginning and end of which seemed most researched opposed to the height of his f...more
Beau Brummell was a fascinating and influential character in Regency England but sadly ended up in prison and then in an asylum in France. However, his fame lived on and his friends rallied to his cause even at the end.

This is a brilliant biography of the man, beginning with his rise to dandyism from a relatively wealthy background. He was known as 'Buck' Brummell at Eton, rather than the George with which he was christened; thankfully this later became the more fashionable 'Beau'.

He quickly est...more
Ian Kelly's Beau Brummell is a fantastic biography, painstakingly researched and dissected, but never entirely disconnected. Brummell is portrayed in a light that is alternately harsh and sympathetic. Though the novel praises his genius and wit in rising above his station to the very firmament of London society, it also censures his inability to live economically and his slavish devotion to his image, as well as his cruel little bon mots. It gives us an enchanting glimpse of the sparkling ballro...more
Excellent research, A Regency Legend

The life of George Brummell, is truly amazing in its scope. He begins as a commoner but with high connections as his father was Secretary to Prime minister Lord North. In fact he seems to have been born at 10 Downing street. The book carefully documents his rise through Eaton, a short pause in Oxford and then a place in the Prince Regent's Light Dragoons, where he soon became a Captain. Even more important, he became close friends with the Prince, even standin...more
Janine Southard
If you're looking for an example of an exciting story which flow from lower-class origins to outrageous celebrity (in Regency London) to insanity... don't look here.

How Kelly manages to make Beau Brummell boring is a mystery of our age. Is it that he favors the most milquetoast of quotations, perhaps? Or simply that he lacks Brummell's own wit?

I can't even try to be nice about this one. Such a disappointment.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Wonderful stories of rakes, dandies, three bottle men and, most of all, the slender elegant figure of the Beau - which makes his ruin, physically and mentally, so much more tragic - from the Pavilion, with the fat, hateful, Regent, to a locked cabinet in the asylum outside Caen - earlier, greeting invisible guests in his hotel room, the servant standing on the stairs, introducing them ...

Loved this comprehensive bio and found Kelly's incorporation of the history & culture surrounding/informing Brummel's life & style fascinating. Anyone interested in what set the tone, line, dictates of men's and much of women's fashion for the past 200 plus years, will get a fine & fun education about the man who made it so - the Dandy of them all, Beau!
I have always had a soft spot for a man in a finely cut suit and now I have insight into the life of the man, the arbiter of manly fashion, who single-handedly conceived the modern suit. The man is intriguing, rising from humble birth to be the celebrity of Regency London, friends with the who’s who of the period (from the Prince Regent to Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire), a figure dictating to the fashionable what was acceptable in dress, entertainment, and style. The description of the cu...more
I had no idea who this guy was until I got this book as a gift.

Turns out Mr. Brummell was a man who lived during the late 1700's - early 1800's and was the most famous man in England for a time. He is the inventor of the man's suit, tie and collar. I would think that most fashion designers today know of this man and his contributions to modern men's wear.

This book chronicles his life from birth through death. Right now I am only about 1/3 of the way through and just getting into his early 20's...more
Among the worst-written bios of all time. There must be an alternative biography of the man who invented fop.
Elyse Mady
A thorough biography that develops Brummell beyond the cutout character of Regency lore. It discusses Beau's early life and development as a male style icon but the man himself still stays maddeningly unknown.

A sad, pitiful end to Brummell's life makes the last third of the book difficult reading if you are in the least squeamish - suffice it to say that tertiary syphilis has moved up to the top of *my* list of ways I definitely don't want to expire.

Kelly's writing is solid and clear but at tim...more
Rachel Knowles
This is a comprehensive biography of the man who ruled the ton in the opening years of the 19th century. The book traces his upward journey from his birth in Downing Street, where his father worked, through his time in Eton and in the army, to his place in the heart of the ton where his approval meant everything.

But it does not stop there. It goes on to describe Brummell's flight to France to escape his insurmountable debts and his tragic end in an asylum in Caen.

It is well-researched, but I did...more
Lauren Albert

This is neither an overly serious or overly “pop” account of a man who was interesting less for himself and more for the phenomenon he represented. Kelly demolishes the stereotype of the dandy as the wear of frivolous and gaudy clothing—Brummell was, if anything, austere in his habits. His extremism took the form of a fanatical (and time consuming) attention to detail. I hadn’t realized how much of an influence he had on the history of men’s fashions. A sad but interesting account.
This might be interesting reading for a fashion theorist or serious student of fashion history. I, however, found it utterly inane and terribly boring. I was expecting a more global picture; an analysis of the why of Beau Brummell in late Georgian and Regency London society. Instead I got repetitious extolment of Brummell’s fashion sense, his emulation by the idle moneyed class, and a view of a very narrow social milieu.
Very interesting and informative. One could compare Beau Brummell with the "A" listers today - if he wore (or they wear it) it is a hit. So sad that his life ended the way it did; that a man who had been an icon among British Society and with a large fortune could lose it all from various excesses and eventually dying in poverty from the ravishes of syphilis - tragedy.
If you're interested in Regency England this is a wonderful book. If you're interested in Beau Brummell this is a wonderful book. Who knew anyone could write so much on men's fashion.

Beau Brummell was the quintessential upperclass Englishman of the early 19th century. This book tells his rise and fall in an exciting and sobering manner.
Beau Brummell was one of the most famous Englishmen of his day and one of the founders of men's fashion as we know it.

Ian Kelly's biography of Brummell is dense with occasional bursts of color. But, because so few books documenting Brummell exist, this is the best source I could find.
Ace Wall
It took some time to get going but this book about the life of Beau Brummell was fun to read. Weather it be his famed attention to the detail of his clothing or his gambling problem the author does a great job at telling the story. A great historical bio.
Dec 27, 2012 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in 19th century fashion.
Enjoyable biography about London's first modern celebrity. Brummell was much like the Kardashian's-all he did was dress well and party...Let's hope the Kardashian's are better with their money and avoid STDs!
This is an entertaining piece of history - lots of history, but "covered up" in great story telling about Beau Brummell. How painless! A fun read.

Except . . . his life was so heart breaking.
Absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended. As an avid follower of The Sartorialist, I definitely was interested in someone known for their style 150 years ago.
Th best bio on the subject yet written. As a columnist for, I should know.
Beau Brummell was a fascinating read. He lived life on his own terms.
Joanna Hancock
its amazing what you will buy when its on sale for \500.

Joan marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2014
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Fashion Book Lovers!: Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style by Ian Kelly 6 15 Feb 06, 2011 11:27PM  
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  • Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana
  • 1700
  • Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People's Princess
  • Martha Washington: An American Life
  • Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King
  • Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century
  • Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
  • The Sun King : Louis Fourteenth at Versailles
  • George III: A Personal History
  • An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England
  • Byron: Life and Legend
  • The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce
  • Georgette Heyer's Regency World
  • Our Tempestuous Day: History Of Regency England
  • The Victorian Underworld
  • Dr. Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education
Ian Kelly is a multi-award-nominated actor, writer and presenter of TV documentaries. He is the Sunday Times Biographer of the Year 2008-9 (Casanova). He is currently filming the last of the Harry Potter films as Hermione's father, he transfers in the National Theatre's production of The Pitmen Painters to Broadway in 2010.
More about Ian Kelly...
Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, the First Celebrity Chef Mr Foote's Other Leg MR Foote's Other Leg. by Ian Kelly Mr Foote's Other Leg: Comedy, tragedy and murder in Georgian London

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“He keeps us waiting rather than wishing for him. I feel it a matter of perfect indifference whether he arrives at any moment or not at all.” — Lady Harriet Cavendish of George Beau Brummell” 0 likes
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