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To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
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To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,997 Ratings  ·  500 Reviews
From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles--just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period deta ...more
Paperback, 403 pages
Published January 9th 1989 by Workman Publishing Company (first published 1989)
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Feb 12, 2014 Hannah rated it really liked it
5 stars for content. Great information. Loads of pictures. Kept me turning the pages (my anglophile-ecstasy-meter was in overdrive). Extra brownie points to the authors for their fulsome praise over how awesome American girls are were. Well, duh...

1 stars for the literary sadist formatting this book. Very frustrating layout. Annoying as all get-out.

Giving it 4 stars since the content won out over the format. Plus, who doesn't like a trans-Atlantic romance with a titled Englishman?

Julian Fellowes
It's only three stars because, while I really enjoyed the majority of the book, the format and constant interruptions to the text took away some of the enjoyment. I also didn't technically read the entire thing since I just skimmed the bios and locations at the end. I want a book like this about the women but without the asides. It did make me finally purchase Five Sisters though.
Noran Miss Pumkin
The lack of editing, the mis-spellings, the lack of flow, the disorganization of information, the repetition, the too small illustrations, the repetition, and the boring writing style--really ruined a possible 4 star read! This books explains the set-up of Downton Abbey. The wealthy young American girls, that fled snobbish NYC for titles, and society. Many found poor marriages and despair. Yet, they had their daughters marry the same way as well. The topic is fascinating, but this book is just a ...more
Jun 05, 2013 Chelsea rated it did not like it
I am so disappointed in this book. I went looking for it (and it was later given to me as a gift) in part because Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, cited it as an inspiration. Now, I love Downton Abbey because of the well-spun insights into characters whose lives are only 100 years removed from mine, but seem so dramatically different, and was excited to see if I could find hints of Cora or Mary or Bates in any of the real people MacColl highlighted.

This book contains lots of informati
Apr 08, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
Fans of Downton Abbey and other Anglophiles will enjoy this book, which tells the stories of the American women who married into English aristocracy in the late-1800s. (Usually because the titled British families needed the money from wealthy Americans.) It's filled with photographs and interesting facts about their lives, such as how much it really cost to maintain a country estate, how difficult it was to run a household with servants and how wives adjusted to cold English society. It may spoi ...more
Austen to Zafón
If you want to better understand the novels of Edith Wharton and Henry James, to get the jokes of Charles Dana Gibson and Oscar Wilde, or just to enjoy the highbrow soap opera that is Downtown Abbey more deeply, this book will help. Covering the years between the end of the American civil war and the death of King Edward VII in 1910, this book gave me a fairly good understanding of why American heiresses were marrying titled Englishmen in droves (more than 100 did, including Winston Churchill's ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Elena rated it it was amazing
On November 6, 1895 at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in New York City, a groom waited at the altar for a bride who appeared to be delayed. The groom was no ordinary groom, but Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough; the bride he waited for was the American railroad heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt. The wedding was considered a triumph for both families, since the Duke would be delivered from his debts by Consuelo's millions, while Consuelo would gain a noble title. It was all the work of ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Holy cow, was this book fascinating!

Contrary to what bodice ripping romance novels would have you believe, it was NOT easy to marry an English Lord in the Victorian/Edwardian age, especially if you were an English girl! You had better luck if you were a rich American girl whose uber-wealthy (and not just by today's standards, either- these people were spending some MEGA MONEY) father was willing to open the purse in order to gain a bit more cachet at home.

Really, this book has so much to offer
Jun 23, 2014 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
This book, a cultural history of American heiresses marrying English Lords, is just plain fun and fascinating. The Kindle version is currently on sale in the US, but To Marry an English Lord is so lavishly illustrated with photos and drawings on every page that I can’t imagine reading an ebook copy.

By the late 1800’s--early 1900’s there was a growing number of young ladies in the US who had lots of family money, but who couldn’t break into proper American “Society” because being nouveau riche t
Julia Reed
Jun 09, 2012 Julia Reed rated it really liked it
What fun! I was thrilled to see this book, which was the original inspiration for Downton Abbey, pop up in the Amazon Kindle store. This is a breezy, easy to read history of the generations of American heiresses who took Europe, and especially England, by storm. Full of beauty, charm, American confidence, and most all, American money, these women re-shaped the political and social landscape of Europe in ways that echoed well into the 20th century. From the original Buccaneers (including Winston ...more
May 16, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book 5 stars, not because it is an example of outstanding literature, but because this book is like crack for anyone who can't get enough of the Mitfords, Langhorns, Curzons, et al. This book was full of lots of interesting pictures, trivia and info about the American heiresses who migrated to Great Britain at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries to marry into the British aristocracy. Their money enabled this old aristocratic (but short on cash) families to ref ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining, gossipy look at the phenomenon of American heiresses marrying titled British aristocrats, which took place from the 1870s to the early 1900s. Shut out by the old money society of New York epitomized by Caroline Astor's "400," these nouveau riche families sought out social acceptability across the Atlantic instead. They launched their pert, pretty, privileged daughters into a hidebound British society which at first balked at the girls as little more than savages, but soon came t ...more
Elaine Ruth Boe
Any Downton Abbey fan worth his or her salt would salivate at the chance to understand the backstories of the real women who inspired Downton’s popular character Lady Grantham. And so, my mom and I drove south toward the gulf as the lives of past American heiresses unfolded before us.

Before listening to this book, all I knew about the hordes of American women who married into the British aristocracy was that hordes of American women married into the British aristocracy. This I ascertained from D
Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.
-Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay
I wasn't really sure what I was going to get here, since I just grabbed it off the shelf off the library because it looked interesting. The cover claims it's an inspiration for Downton Abbey, but I haven't seen that, so it didn't influence my reading of the book.

But I did really like it. It was much different than I was expecting--instead of a dense text packed wi
The book is chock full of facts about ostentatious wealth and extravagance, about huge dowries of American money which protected many a broke English noble family from bankruptcy, about obscene amounts of money spent on clothing, interior decoration, and entertaining the Prince of Wales (who eventually became King Edward VII).

The presentation of this abundance of information was not well-organized. Overall, the chapters seem to move forward in chronological order, but within each of the chapter
Feb 03, 2013 Marilyn rated it really liked it
This book was packed full of info and quite readable, and I'm sure that my interests in Downton Abbey and Philippa Gregory novels would indicate to friends that I'd likely enjoy this sort of stuff. I had no idea the 1800s brought such a huge rush of newly rich Americans seeking royal or noble husbands for their heiress daughters, thus the huge numbers of young women off to Europe/UK. Interesting to note reasons why: ultra-snobbery NY society wouldn't accept the newcomers and so they found other ...more
Tracie (March Hare)
I loved this book! It was an Anglophiles dream! The text was so informative and gave us not only a fun and snappy version of the time, but a great narrative into he lives and outcomes of these American women. The loads of pictures also made me so happy because I got a better sense of the time and as everyone knows I enjoy loads of pictures in my histories. In addition I liked the directory at the end which gave us brief profiles of the many women featured. It helped me to separate and remember w ...more
Lauren Albert
Sep 18, 2012 Lauren Albert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-american
Fun and remarkably thorough history of "American heiress meets impecunious British lord." MacColl really seems to know the period--sharing gossip and warning of possible faux pas. At the end is an alphabetical list of heiresses with their background (ie how their fathers made their money) and who they married. Notable divorces and remarriages are included. Then, we are treated to a walking tour of the places that are notable in their relation to the women on the first list. Very well researched ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating, interesting look into the mass move of rich American heiress to marry into English families for title and social status. A broad view of life for the American "aristocracy' of the 1880s through the early 1900s gives a window into a lifestyle that many of us cannot fathom or truly understand today. This book is full of interesting tidbits, sidenotes and pictures. While it is an easy read, it was not a quick read so plan on spending some time with this book to really soak i ...more
Just after the Civil War, New York City was run by an exclusive group led by Mrs Astor called the Knickerbockers, descendents of the original Dutch settlers. Though very wealthy, they chose to live relatively modestly. Any women who had an up-to-the-moment dress from Europe would put it away for a season or two, as wearing it during its first season was considered gauche. Society was a closed group, comprised solely of Mrs Astor's Four Hundred (the total that could fit into her ballroom), so tho ...more
Christopher Hicks
Dec 28, 2015 Christopher Hicks rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. Actually my favorite book I read this year. It's the book that the television show Downton Abbey was inspired from. True stories of American Heiresses seeking European titles and the near destitute European Aristocracy in need of American fortunes. Extremely fascinating. I want to read more about these women and their lives.
Feb 03, 2012 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, edwardian
This was a fun pictorial/anecdotal history of the wealthy young American women who traveled abroad to find love and marriage among European aristocrats. Filled with tibits of trivia involving fashion, etiquette, entertaining, courting, and other interesting topics related to the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
1/12 - finished the text portion (at 53% of book) the rest is a listing of heiresses and an extensive index (at 68% of book). This barely gets 2 stars.

1/10 - I've commented on a couple of reviews below, which have said it well: this book is disappointing. It's poorly organized, there's no continuity to the stories, and the photographs are far too small. I'm going to try it on my larger tablet, but I don't have much hope to see the details.

I've just been looking at this up to about 30% of the b
Katrina Atienza
Jan 22, 2014 Katrina Atienza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I read D.V. by Vogue editrix Diana Vreeland in college I've been in love with this milieu: turn-of- to mid-20th Century continental Europe, and llarger than life personalities that inhabited it. I picked up French courtesan Liane de Pougy's My Blue Notebooks and Colette's works because of it; and this is also the reason why I loved Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

So yeah, what I'm saying is I really liked this book: an exhaustive, well-research, gossipy account of the American heiress
Aug 21, 2014 Jeannie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
I enjoyed the was eye opening to the world of the rich.Most of them led very shallow purposeless lives.They seem to center their lives on senseless pleasure.But well researched and written.
Upwardly mobile and newly rich Americans, shut out of New York society by the established and numerically restricted social register, turn to England as a source of social position and titled husbands for their daughters. Impoverished English noblemen are glad to oblige because not only do these girls outshine their English sisters (having been intensively schooled in the social arts and in how to dress stunningly), but they are really, really, rich. After elaborate and expensive weddings, are s ...more
Rosalind M
Apr 14, 2010 Rosalind M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, reference
This is one of my favorite reference books because of the wealth of images that are included.
Mar 09, 2015 A B rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anglophiles
Shelves: goal-books

It was not Downton Abbey that brought me here.

Rather, it was a delightfully spry 90+ year old English nobleman featured in a documentary about the great British estates. He played the Moonlight Sonata and then spoke eagerly about his beloved American grandmother, Leonie Jerome. I wanted to know more about her, and there you go.

This is a very informative and often quite tongue-in-cheek book about the "cash for titles" phenomenon from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Several hundred wealthy American
The subtitle of this book is: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery and there is another blurb on the front that says An Inspiration for the Popular Television Series Downton Abbey. Truth: this last bit is why I read the book :)

I love Downton Abbey. I don't care that it's all drama and soap opera happenings. I love the historical period, I love the things I'm learning and the way the show makes me think. As a regular follower of the show, I will say that this book gave me so much insigh
Oct 15, 2013 Pam rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For those of you enamored with all things Crawley and Grantham, this book is a delight. Providing a history of the more than 100 women who married into the British aristocracy, the book endeavors to explain the who's, how's, and why's. Despite the extreme lightness and fluff of the material, I did actually learn a few things and was engaged for most of it. The book highlights Edward VII's role as the linchpin in this phenomena,starting with his US visit in the 1860, and dissects the waves of hei ...more
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Gail MacColl Jarrett is a writer who lives in England.
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“Any aspirant who deviated from the standards laid down by Mrs. Astor and Ward McAllister was doomed. A big house, tasteful parties, fine horses, a reasonably presentable husband guaranteed nothing. If Mrs. Astor refused to know you, you might as well be living in Cleveland.” 2 likes
“Being perfectly turned out, from kid slippers to lace parasol, including pearl-embroidered petticoats and the third new pair of gloves that day, was the exclusive province of the American woman. More, it was her patriotic duty. The daughters of dukes could indulge in loose-waisted “pre-Raphaelite” dresses, but Americans had to look like aristocrats.” 1 likes
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