The Dollar Princesses – American Women who married into the European Aristocracy

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Anne Sebba

_anne-sebbaBiographer, historian and author who lectures to a variety of audiences in the US and UK, Anne Sebba is a broadcaster who presented a Radio 3 documentary about the pianist Harriet Cohen and for Radio 4 the documentary ‘Who was Joyce Hatto?’  She regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies including Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson. The latter, published as “That Woman”, was an international bestseller and she is currently working on a history of Paris between 1939 and 1949 through women’s eyes (to be published in 2016). Anne is currently chair of Britain’s Society of Authors.

Between 1870 and 1914 hundreds of American heiresses flooded the shores of continental Europe, trading fortunes for titles. They were known as “The Dollar Princesses” and included Consuelo Vanderbilt at Blenheim and Mary Curzon at Kedleston. These marriages – dubbed by some as gilded prostitution – were usually hard-headed matches plotted by the parents. They may have kept many a grand estate from collapsing but few provided lasting happiness when the fairy tale was exposed. This lecture examines the clothes, the portraits, the jewels and the literature of the Dollar Princesses.

You can discover more about Anne here.

 

Photos of this lecture are available on Flickr