'Gilded Prostitution'

Status, Money and Transatlantic Marriages, 1870-1914

By Maureen E. Montgomery

© 1989 – Routledge

360 pages

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Paperback: 9780415752596
pub: 2014-04-09
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About the Book

This book examines the marriages of British peers to American women within the context of the opening up of London and New York society and the growing competitiveness for high social status. In London, American women were often blamed for the growing hedonism and materialism of smart society and for poaching in the marriage market. They were invariably described as frivolous, vain and calculating – a description which points to the simmering anti-American sentiment in Britain. It was even suggested that titled Americans were having a detrimental effect on the British peerage because of their failure to produce male heirs.

A brilliant analysis of the reasons why American women were viewed pejoratively not only in terms of anti-American feeling and the social transformation of the British upper class, but also the threat of women who did not appear to conform to aristocratic notions of a peeress’s duties as a wife and mother.

Originally published in 1989, this book has unique appendices listing details of peer marriages in this 1870-1914 period.

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: The Expatriate Tradition 1. Transatlantic Travellers: 'Discoverers of a Kind of Hymeneal North-West Passage' Part 2: The American Leisure Class 2. 'Pecuniary Competition' and the Search for Status: New York’s High Society 3. 'For Them He Slaves': American Women of the Leisure Class Part 3: Americans in London Society 4. American Invasion or Aristocratic Embrace? The Entry of Americans in London’s High Society After 1870 5. The London Marriage Market Part 4: 'Gilded Prostitution': Money and Marriage 6. Title for Money: The Persistence of a Cliché 7. The American Heiress: The Formation of a Stereotype 8. Speculation, Sensation, and Scandal: The American Response to Titled Marriages Part 5: Titled Americans 9. Wives and Mothers: The Domestic Roles of Titled Americans 10. Hostesses, Political Campaigners, and Actresses: Titled Americans and their Public Roles. Conclusion: Stereotypes and Their Function. Appendices: Peers who Married Americans 1870-1914. Younger Songs who Married Americans 1870-1914. Control Groups: Peers who Married 1880-9 and 1900-9. Control Groups: Younger Sons who Married 1880-9 and 1900-9. Probate Calendar Valuations (Peers and their Spouses). Peers who Married Americans 1915-39. Men who Married Americans 1870-1914 and who were Subsequently Raised to the Peerage. Transatlantic Marriages and Family Connections. Case Group: Total Acreage and Gross Annual Rental. Data on Offspring.

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Women's History

Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1928 and 1992, Routledge Library Editions: Women's History offers a selection of scholarship covering women's roles, gender battles, feminism and other issues through the ages. Topics include women in the World Wars, prostitution in Victorian times, the history of abortion, women's roles in the Stuart era and women's place in the household and in work.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS000000
HISTORY / General
HIS037060
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HIS054000
HISTORY / Social History