How were ladies and gentlemen meant to behave in nineteenth century England? What role did etiquette play regarding correspondence, dinner parties, and proper behavior while they were out and about? What were the particular guidelines reserved for ladies or gentlemen? All these topics and more are covered in Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century.
I love everything about history, including the social mores of the time. The nineteenth century is one of the time periods I especially enjoy learning about, so I was immediately drawn to this book.
I was particularly interested the first of the eleven chapters, which focused on rank. Being American, I’ve often found myself confused when it came to rank. I’m aware of the titles from reading, of course, but I often had difficulty when it came to knowing which rank took precedence over another. James informs the reader of the difference between the monarchy, aristocracy, and gentry in an easily understood way. Precedence is explained, as well as how someone of a certain rank would be addressed during conversation. I’ve got a greater understanding of it now, but if I ever get confused, I’m grateful to have this chapter to reference.
The rest of the chapters were equally entertaining and informative. Various points of etiquette are discussed, ranging from the importance of keeping good company, paying calls to others, and appropriate behavior at dinner parties and balls. The employment of domestic servants is discussed, as well as the important matters pertaining to courtship and marriage. Every topic was fascinating. It seemed nothing was left to chance—every possible situation has specific guidelines to ensure proper behavior at all times.
James’ writing style was fun and engaging, making this book absolutely unputdownable for me. No matter how interesting a subject is, there are often times that I will set the book aside in favor of other activities. I never felt this way as I was reading this book, however, which shows you just how much fun it was to read.
If you enjoy learning about this sort of thing, I think you will enjoy reading this book!
I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Pen and Sword Books.
About the Book
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to live in the nineteenth century? How would you have got a partner in a ballroom? What would you have done with a letter of introduction? And where would you have sat in a carriage?
Covering all these nineteenth-century dilemmas and more, this book is your must-have guide to the etiquette of our well-heeled forebears. As it takes you through the intricacies of rank, the niceties of the street, the good conduct that was desired in the ballroom and the awkward blunders that a lady or gentleman would of course have wanted to avoid, you will discover an abundance of etiquette advice from across the century. Elegant Etiquette is a lively, occasionally tongue-in-cheek and thoroughly detailed history of nineteenth century manners and conduct.
Drawing upon research into contemporary advice and guidance, Elegant Etiquette is both fun and compelling reading for anyone with an interest in this period. In exploring the expectations of behavior and etiquette, it seeks to bring the world of the nineteenth century back to life.
About the Author
MALLORY JAMES read History and German at University College London, before completing her master’s degree at Queen Mary, University of London. She has contributed to a number of outlets, including All About History, History in an Hour and Historic UK. Her first book, Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century, was published by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017.