Event Title

The Invasion of the American Heiress: How wealthy American women bought husbands and married their way to the top of British society

Date

4-9-2022

Location

Schewel 217

Description

“Sir, if you were my husband, I would poison your tea,” quipped Lady Nancy Astor. “Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it,” responded Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Lady Astor did more than banter with Churchill, however. In fact, Lady Astor was the first woman in the British Parliament— and she was an American. Lady Astor was just one of the numerous rich and glamorous Americans from the late 19th to the early 20th century that married British title-holding men. At one point, one-third of the British House of Lords had American wives. These marriages were not for love but were mutually beneficial partnerships. Daughters of new money became outcasts in American old money high society; while British lords found themselves penniless. Through their marriages, the wives joined the highest echelons of society and the British husbands regained their wealth. These women, their marriages, affairs, husbands, and lives became the hottest topics in societal papers. Looking back, these writings reflect an image of a time when gender roles were flipped, American women had great influence in British society, and finding a husband was akin to a woman’s shopping trip.

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The Invasion of the American Heiress: How wealthy American women bought husbands and married their way to the top of British society

Schewel 217

“Sir, if you were my husband, I would poison your tea,” quipped Lady Nancy Astor. “Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it,” responded Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Lady Astor did more than banter with Churchill, however. In fact, Lady Astor was the first woman in the British Parliament— and she was an American. Lady Astor was just one of the numerous rich and glamorous Americans from the late 19th to the early 20th century that married British title-holding men. At one point, one-third of the British House of Lords had American wives. These marriages were not for love but were mutually beneficial partnerships. Daughters of new money became outcasts in American old money high society; while British lords found themselves penniless. Through their marriages, the wives joined the highest echelons of society and the British husbands regained their wealth. These women, their marriages, affairs, husbands, and lives became the hottest topics in societal papers. Looking back, these writings reflect an image of a time when gender roles were flipped, American women had great influence in British society, and finding a husband was akin to a woman’s shopping trip.