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Laura Claridge

Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

Eric Homberger, author of Mrs. Astor’s New York

“Laura Claridge’s masterful Emily Post tells the story of a lively heroine, raised in a Gilded Age New York of silk-stockings and debutante balls, who wrote one of the enduring bestsellers of the 20th century…. Laura Claridge’s vivid, graceful biography of Emily Post is an essential contribution to American social history.”

Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage

“… a biography as rich and engaging as a portrait by John Singer Sargent.”

Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life

“Laura Claridge has given us so much more than a mere biography of this august arbiter of good manners; [She] has flung open the doors of an entire society – she has shown us in enchanting, mesmerizing detail how the modern city of New York was built and made.”

Nancy Milford, author of Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

“What she [Claridge] has given us is not only a canny and insightful read, but when she calls her Emily ‘a domestic anthropologist,’ you know she’s right. Brava!”

P.J. O’Rourke, author of Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People

“It was the genius of Emily Post to show us that manners are the small coin of morality….Emily Post became perhaps the most important and certainly the most influential moralist of the 20th century. It is Laura Claridge’s genius to explain the surprising and improbable background and equally amazing personality of Emily Post.”

Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“The first to fully portray this pioneer, Claridge is becoming the sort of biographer readers will follow anywhere, …and now this absorbing study of a keenly perceptive ethicist second only to Eleanor Roosevelt in the immensity of her influence….The pain and humiliation of her divorce from Edwin Post fostered her devotion to writing (she was a successful novelist) and seeded the compassion and advocacy for women that shaped her highly moral approach to etiquette. Claridge chronicles Post’s remarkable ability to discern the needs of a burgeoning American public transformed by immigration, industrialization, war, and women’s and civil rights, and hungry for guidance in social and familial situations.”

Evelyn Theiss, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An absorbing new biography…Claridge writes a smooth, clean story of a woman whose legacy is much more central to American life than choosing the correct fork.”

Nashville Tennessean

“Laura Claridge’s Emily Post is, in the end, a sterling — if you will — contribution to the biographies of American heroines.”

Anne E. Carroll, Baltimore Sun

“[Claridge] offers a rich description of the social development of the times,…an immensely researched work that straddles the line between academic and popular nonfiction…[R]eaders will find themselves rewarded with fascinating insights into the times through which Emily Post guided us.”

Liz Brown, Los Angeles Times

“As with her last book, a biography of Norman Rockwell, Laura Claridge has revisited an American icon, upending or at least questioning cliché, which, in the case of Emily Post, is that of a fussy, obsessive woman preoccupied with which fork one should use. Claridge tracks Emily’s rise from vivacious debutante to poised but neglected society wife and mother against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, deftly tucking in such capsule anecdotes as the déclassé Vanderbilts vying for high-society acceptance….Claridge’s book hints at becoming a cultural or literary analysis, offering glimpses of Post’s historical context and writing style."

Faye Jones, BookPage

“Claridge’s Emily Post is not only a fascinating look at a woman who managed to conquer many worlds in her time, it is also a social biography of the changing face of the United States during the 20th century.”

Wendy Smith, Chicago Tribune

“Claridge’s warm, appreciative text does full justice to the surprisingly democratic influence of Post’s most famous book, and it also paints a rich, almost novelistic portrait of a woman whose long, full life embodied the dramatic changes that transformed American society.”

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.


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