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The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau; Husband Hunting in the Gilded Age: How American Heiresses Conquered the Aristocracy

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In 1895 nine American heiresses travelled across the Atlantic and bagged themselves husbands and titles. Though this phenomena had been happening for many years, 1895 was undoubtedly the most successful one for the unofficial marriage brokers Lady Minnie Paget and Consuelo Yzanga, Duchess of Manchester. For the English gentlemen the girls married it was a way to sustain th ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 2nd 2017 by Aurum Press Ltd
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Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Million Dollar Duchesses focuses on the events of a single year – 1895 – in which a number of transatlantic marriages took place between wealthy American heiresses and not so wealthy but titled British aristocrats.   Unfortunately for the participants, very few were love matches but more akin to business transactions, negotiated by a select band of very influential society ladies, including the redoubtable Alva Vanderbilt, Consuelo Manchester and Minnie Paget.

Manoeuvring young American heire
Liz Barnsley
Julie Ferry covers a fascinating period of social history here, one to be honest I knew very little (nothing) about when I went into this. But I was utterly riveted by these American girls who left home to marry into the English aristocracy and by Minne and Consuelo who made it happen.

I can imagine anyone who watched and enjoyed Downtown Abbey as a fictional show would enjoy this book, which gives an insight into a time when rich girls propped up failing estates and bagged themselves a touch of
Roman Clodia
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
'Love is bourgeois; only the lower classes and fools marry for love. We are learning better in America - nowadays our marriages are arranged'

Following one year, 1895, this traces transatlantic marriages as wealthy American heiresses barter their wealth to marry into cash-strapped English aristocratic families. The names are familiar: Churchill, Cunard, Astor, Vanderbilt but while this is an interesting topic, the book is surprisingly dry.

As the author herself says in her epilogue, there are few
Karen Mace
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and lavish look at a year in which the world of Aristocracy in England was given an injection of money and glamour with the introduction of American heiresses who were looking to be part of the world of titles and history.

For many that lifestyle wasn't what they imagined it to be, and this book brought to life the stories behind high society and how the introduction of new money from America helped save many of the crumbling country piles across England and is an illuminating look
Joanne Robertson
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I was about 9 I watched an ITV series called Jennie starring Lee Remick which was based on the life of Jenny Jerome, an American heiress who married into the British Aristocracy and gave birth to Winston Churchill. I was quite an obsessive child and I immediately wanted to know everything about this woman and that period in time where so many rich American women were adapting to a different lifestyle here in the UK. And that was why I was keen to read more about the women who helped to set ...more
This was ok.
This is very much written like fiction with thoughts and feelings the author couldn't have been privy to.
In addition the research is faulty or the claims are greatly exaggerated.
The Commodore (Vanderbilt) grew up in a family wealthy enough that his MOTHER gave him $100 cash. At the time this exchange occurred the US was a fairly cash poor nation. That's a lot of money for a woman to have control of if the family was poor or lived poverty.
This is not to negate that The Commodore had a
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this, and learned things I did not know.

Kinda bursts the bubble of the romantic vision of marrying into royalty, which is probably a useful bubble to burst.
Juliet Bookliterati
As most of my regular readers know I love history, but it has been a while since I read historical non fiction, probably due to time constraints. The Million Dollar Duchesses was therefore a pleasure to read, plus I got to read it in my garden due to the recent good weather.

The Million Dollar Duchesses referred to in the title are the young American heiresses who came to England looking for marriage and a title at the end of the nineteenth century. To put this in context, between 1873 – 1896 the
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The American girl comes along, prettier than her English sister, full of dash and snap, and go, sprightly, dazzling, and audacious."

Written by Julie Ferry, The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau is a work of nonfiction centering on one specific year during the Gilded Age where transatlantic marriages--marriages taking places between American heiresses and English aristocrats--were at a fever pitch. In The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau, Ferry explains the impetus behind these marriages, how they
Hannah (TheSeferSisters)
"The hazy gauze of youthful innocence had been lifted, with the whole society scene crystal-clear to her now, yet none of that first flush of euphoria born from committing to and conquering London during the summer had disappeared."

The Million Dollar Duchesses by Julie Ferry is an exquisitely written account of the extravagant transatlantic marriages that swept through the Gilded Age to the rescue of financially ailing British society and America's emerging dynasties. Ms. Ferry masterfully weave
1895 was the apogee in transatlantic alliances, and this fascinating book covers that year in detail, following a group of American heiresses in search of, at least social standing, and more probably a title.
London's Season was THE one to be prominently seen, trumping the New York equivalent, and marriage was a constant preoccupation. Socially ambitious New Moneyed Americans found it easier to storm the citadel of London's society than the carefully guarded New York upper echelons lead by the fo
Brianne Moore
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at a pivotal year in the lives of many of the 'Dollar Princesses' who made the journey from the US to Britain in order to become part of (and financially prop up) the aristocracy. My only real issue is the book's sloppy editing: there were passages that were confusing, as the same person was referred to using different names/titles (which was odd, because this was before she even had a title), and in one case the same person seemed to be referred to as being both married and ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I don’t tend to read many factual books but I was fascinated by Julie Ferry’s The Million Dollar Duchesses. In a way the book almost felt like a story from a Hollywood script with its glamour, scandal, tragedy and nouveau riches. The book highlights a specific year, 1895, that started off the invasion of young American ladies; highly educated ladies with their own dowry seeking the employs of a ‘society matron’ to guide them into English society with the sole interest in wedding a member of the ...more
Rich and looking for a husband? Visit The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau Marriage Bureau

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau is the story of one year in the life of the English aristocracy. The names of these American ladies will be familiar –  Consuelo Vanderbilt, Washington society heiress Mary Leiter who married  Lord Curzon and became the Vicereine of India, Maud Burke, vivacious San Francisco belle with a questionable background.

Imagine travelling across the ocean to meet the man you would marr
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Goodreads for sending me this book. I really enjoyed this book. It was both interesting and fascinating. During the 1800’s American heiresses were very keen to gain themselves aristocratic titles and therefore travelled across the Atlantic to fulfil this need. Lots of the marriages were doomed to failure. The author has certainly done her research and because of this, has produced a book that is well worth a read.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A look at how young American women became part of the sometimes impoverished English aristocracy- and not always happily. In some cases, these women helped shape the future of their adopted country, not that they were probably aware of that then. Also interesting to note how far some families (or should I say mothers) would go to ensure a wedding.
Daniel Kukwa
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting & fascinating slice of Gilded Age history, but after the first 100 pages, it ends up feeling very much the same kind of story, repeated ad nauseum. Eventually, you can only tell the same story in a certain number of ways before the threat of boredom sets in. And why does Mrs Astor never get a first name? ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Fascinating, insightful and emminently readable!
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun!
Nada Al-Karmi
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting and informative. Sometimes, it dragged on. However, it contained a wealth of information about that period.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau chronicles a whirlwind year of the American heiresses:Consuelo Vanderbilt, Consuelo Yzanga and Minnie Stevens. After failing to impress the infamous Four Hundred and New York Society, the heiresses took their chances across the pond in London to secure marriages with a titled but indebted aristocrats.
The book off interesting but towards the end I got tired of reading about so and so’s daughter marrying lord so and so.
Helen Carolan
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting read focusing on one year 1895 and the gilded age heiresses who married into the aristocracy. It also tells of the already married American women Minnie Paget and Conseulo duchess of Manchester who for discrete payments helped to broker the deals. Interesting and fascinating account.
This review was originally posted on my blog:

I hadn’t heard of The Million Dollar Duchesses before I was invited to take part in the blog tour but as soon as I read the synopsis I just knew this was going to be a book I enjoyed and I’m so pleased to say that I was right.

The Million Dollar Duchesses is such a wonderful and interesting look at the transatlantic marriage market in the late 1800s. It looks at how rich young American women, whose family wanted to be
Heather H
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Nicole Oliveri
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Nov 09, 2018
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Apr 15, 2019
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May 21, 2017
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Julie Ferry is the author of The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau, a non-fiction book following he American heiresses that married into the aristocracy in 1895. She graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in English Literature and then upped sticks and moved to a tiny island between Japan and South Korea to teach English, where she quickly got used to being followed around the supermarket by ...more

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