Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners
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In an engaging book that sweeps from the Gilded Age to the 1960s, award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of Emily Post, who changed the mindset of millions of Americans with Etiquette, a perennial bestseller and touchstone of proper behavior.
A daughter of high society and one of Manhattan’s most sought-after debutantes, Emily Price married financier Edwin Post. It was a hopeful union that ended in scandalous divorce. But the trauma forced Emily Post to become her own person. After writing novels for fifteen years, Emily took on a different sort of project. When it debuted in 1922, Etiquette represented a fifty-year-old woman at her wisest–and a country at its wildest. Claridge addresses the secret of Etiquette’s tremendous success and gives us a panoramic view of the culture from which it took its shape, as its author meticulously updated her book twice a decade to keep it consistent with America’s constantly changing social landscape. Now, nearly fifty years after Emily Post’s death, we still feel her enormous influence on how we think Best Society should behave.
this administration than usual. Franklin Roosevelt was the beloved nephew of her dear friend Katharine Collier; Katharine was the sister of Sara Roosevelt, the new president’s mother. “I remember,” Bill Post comments, “when FDR won his first term as president, it delighted my grandmother, who disliked Roosevelt’s policies, that Katharine Collier, FDR’s aunt, sent him a lighthearted telegram saying ‘Personally I congratulate you, politically I abhor you588.’ ” As part of his efforts to get
find I have to adapt the conventions to my younger readers645.” Acknowledging the power of the postwar adult generation, she declared that they had “taken the bit in their teeth [and] I have been running after them ever since. I can tell that I am still keeping up with them, however, by the letters I receive.” Such attention to generations far younger than her own proved rejuvenating, as the genial woman quizzed the children and grandchildren of her associates and friends, sometimes questioning
with other girls but doesn’t know as much about the subject as she pretends she does, can cook a little, is more obedient to her father than her mother.” But, the article went on, “Mrs. Post protested the narrow choice of answers, saying that to expound on the ‘typical’ sixteen- year- old was useless.” There was no such thing as “typical652.” That September, her concerns were refocused dramatically on the home front, when she was affected by a historical event that touched her personally, a
he would set up a sting, becoming a hero in the process272. The decision made, he visited the assistant district attorney to put things in motion, and only then did he send word to his wife, “warning her that some attempt might be made to approach her with a view to blackmail.” He would explain everything later, he said. In other words, Ned Post’s subsequent version notwithstanding, Edwin had determined to go public by the time he confessed to his wife273. AT THREE-FIFTEEN P.M. on July 10, 1905,
Tapestry. The two women saw each other frequently from then on, Julie especially pleased to have a friend at the dauntingly regular dinners at Tuxedo Park. She, like Edwin, found the social scape here in the Ramapo hills claustrophobic, the identical guests showing up night after night at dinners sponsored by a select group. “Emily Post, Newbold Edgar, the Pillots and Tiltons and the Freddy Piersons alternated locations, each evening one group hosting everyone else at his or her cottage,” she