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Book cover of Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age

Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age

by Eric Homberger

Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300105155

Available to Buy

Synopsis of Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age

Mrs. Astor, undisputed queen of New York society in the decades before the First World War, created a social aristocracy of unparalleled extravagance and exclusivity. This lively account of her life and the era over which she presided sheds new light on the origins and lifestyle of this aristocracy.
“An immensely interesting tale, and Homberger tells it well.”—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
“In his elegant and extensive account Eric Homberger . . . recounts the details of real estate transactions, fancy-dress balls, upwardly mobile marriages, and exclusive enclaves . . . [incorporating] delightful bits of cultural information along the way.”—Marjorie Garber, Boston Sunday Globe
“Homberger’s narrative has the verve and resonance of a novel by Edith Wharton.”—Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
“A rollicking, illuminating book.”—Clive Aslet, Country Life

The New Yorker

Although nineteenth-century New York was home to an established upper class, the absence of a hereditary gentry and the relative ease with which new fortunes were being made kept erstwhile aristocrats busy patrolling the boundaries of "society." This lively, if disjointed, history shows just how much energy was devoted to resisting the invasions of the nouveaux riches, and examines the complicated relationship between the upper class and the city it imagined it ruled. The book's real strength lies in its analysis of the post-Civil War era, when a flood of new money forced New York's more established families to look to the public arena as a place to assert their distinctiveness. Beginning in the eighteen-eighties, the members of the upper class chose to court the press, becoming stars of the "society page." Ironically, their increased fame served to weaken their independence, as they, like all celebrities, became subject to the vagaries of public interest.

About the Author, Eric Homberger

Eric Homberger is reader in English and American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

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