Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “To Marry an English Lord” as Want to Read:
To Marry an English Lord
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

To Marry an English Lord

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  4,882 ratings  ·  706 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
Kindle Edition, 365 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by Workman Publishing Company (first published 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about To Marry an English Lord, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Johannes Yes, it is, Actually, it's quite easy to read and then google the characters to inmerse in their life, go back to the fonts mainly. Buy the books the …moreYes, it is, Actually, it's quite easy to read and then google the characters to inmerse in their life, go back to the fonts mainly. Buy the books the author used to write this, etc.
I just found one (minor) mistake, a photograph actually, they showed the Prince of Wales, "David", then Edward VIII when it should have been his grandfather, "Bertie", Edward VII. If you set that aside, it's both easy and light yet well researched, plus it leaves you eager to read more about their lives. On top of everything, the whole book's art is good, some readers disagreed on this for it was designed to represent the layout back then, some liked it, others' hate it. I have to agree that some notes were confusing and you have to go back, the remars on the side distracted you from the reading but you can go back without a trouble.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Johannes I bought it through bookdepository.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,882 ratings  ·  706 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of To Marry an English Lord
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
“The almighty dollar will buy, you bet
A superior class of coronet;
That’s why I’ve come from over the way, From New York City of U. S. A.”

This was interesting, informative and fun. No wonder it inspired Julian Fellows in creating Downton Abbey.

Full review to come.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jill Hutchinson
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
I read this book 8 years ago and forgot all about it. That's what happens when you read too many books......just kidding. There isn't such a thing as reading too many books. I am going to stick with my original review which follows:

"The American heiress gets her man!! This history of the glut of rich young American women invading Britain during the last decade of the 19th century in search of a titled husband is humorous, informative and gossipy. The bride had the money and no standing in Briti
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
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rating: 4 stars

With all the media hype over Megan Markle and Prince Harry being from separate continents, I thought I would read this book. Surely marriages between the English peerage and American ruling classes happened in the past?

Of course.

The book explains how Princess Diana's grandfather was American. And for those who don't know, Winston Churchill's mother was also an American. In fact, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, American heiresses made countless marriages into the British
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
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

... Or Heiress Moneybags, meet Lord Empty-Pockets.

I've always thought the Gilded Age American heiresses chasing English Titles a fascinating phenomenon. I mean, really, what ever the fuck for? Dear Heiress, he's just gonna spend your money, and be a snob while doing it.

Oh right, snobbery all around.

Anyway, To Marry An English Lord has a whole lot of information, and it's an easy read that gives a fairly comprehensive picture of the period. That said, it's a very episodic book. Since there
Emilia Barnes
Informative and entertaining, this is an account of the American heiresses (Wharton's Buccaneers) that invaded Britain in search of titled husbands. It's thoroughly researched and yet presented in so entertaining a way that you don't really feel like you're learning. It feels more like reading a Victorian gossip magazine. I wish there had been more, along the way, about where the authors have sourced their information (a bibliography, footnotes etc.), but that's my only gripe.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book contains some pretty fascinating facts about the history of society life! I found this especially interesting since I lived in New York City for a few years - you kind of take for granted that something is called "Astor Place" but then to read about the actual Astor family that it is named after is something pretty cool.

The photography was such a great enhancement of the facts, I loved putting faces and locations with the names.

My only complaint would be that it jumped around chronol
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I actually enjoyed this more than I remembered. This is light and quirky.
Must read for fans of Downton Abbey and 'Cash for titles' history.
Once upon a time there was a world when a young girl lived a stable, secure and predictable life. "The débutante, daydreaming in the dark parlor, could easily envision her future: two or three seasons of paying calls with Mama, looking at albums of Venice with young men at parties, blushingly sharing a hymnal at church, having her hand pressed meaningfully on the dance floor. A proposal, and marriage to an upstanding young banker or lawyer. Her own brownstone on a side street, and managing the h ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
A history and social examination of Anglo-American alliances, including the fate of such heiresses as Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother), Consuelo Vanderbilt (Duchess of Marlborough), and Nancy Langhorne Astor, who later became the first woman to ever sit in Parliament.

In the manner of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, this book contains a wealth of information about what life was like for the American heiresses (many dubbed 'Buccaneers' after the Edith Wharto
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 wit
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
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenn "JR"
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
So much data

This book seem to rely heavily on historical data and facts, more than primary sources. Some primary sources were used and that provided great context in spots. Mostly it felt like reading an almanac for the rich and famous, lots of names, dates and tidbits of the cost and value of dresses and houses and such.

It felt like there could have been more context and continuity to weave a story -- there are so many characters involved it was really easy to lose track.
Robin P
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who said this book was hard to find, you'll be happy to know it is newly reissued and highly marketed since Julian Fellowes said it was part of his inspiration for Downton Abbey.(He wondered what life would be like 20 years later for the American brides.) It's full of photos and facts about society life on both sides of the Atlantic and written in an entertaining style.
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
Jan 12, 2016 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
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's well documented that this was the book that inspired Downton Abbey. So, what can I say? If you like digging into the real life history behind the entertainment you'll probably enjoy this book.

It explains why Anglo-American marriages were such a trend at the turn of the 20th century. It has to do with the Prince of Wales, the impoverished state of many British nobles, the perceived value of social status for the nouveaux riche, the snobbery of New York, and the cultural freshness of American
Lauren Albert
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Official Hist...: First Novel - March 2018 Book Choice 16 120 Mar 06, 2018 02:03PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey
  • The Glitter and the Gold
  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
  • The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago
  • Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants
  • The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York
  • Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor
  • The Buccaneers
  • Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800
  • The Age of Decadence: Britain 1880 to 1914
  • Behind Palace Doors: My True Adventures as the Queen Mother's Equerry
  • Final Curtsey: A Royal Memoir by the Queen's Cousin
  • The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern
  • The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters
  • What in the World Is Going On?: 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore
  • Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star
  • Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-1944
  • Escape the Coming Night
See similar books…
Gail MacColl Jarrett is a writer who lives in England.

Related Articles

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
53 likes · 30 comments
“When out driving with his mistress, a gentleman places her at his left hand so that everyone he meets will know she is not his wife.” 3 likes
“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.” 3 likes
More quotes…