English Lords and Ladies

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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Cale, Countess of Carnarvon

New York: Random House, 2011. Paperback, 320 pages, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7704-3562-2.

Long before Highclere Castle provided the backdrop to the much-loved British series Downton Abbey, it was home to American heiress Lady Almina. The 5th Countess of Carnarvon’s dowry helped preserve Highclere Castle, the ancestral home of the Earl of Carnarvon. The current Lady Carnarvon recounts Lady Almina’s life in Edwardian England, facing a changing world on the brink of war.


To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobry, Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace

New York: Workman Publishing, 2012. Paperback, 414 pages, $15.95. ISBN: 978-0-7611-7195-9.

Facing social stigma toward their fathers’ newly acquired wealth during the reconstruction of post-Civil War America, heiresses hopped the pond in search of British husbands who offered both land and a title which lent the heiresses an air of legitimacy. Learn about the real-life women who inspired characters such as Downton Abbey’s Countess of Grantham, Lady Cora Crawley, in this lively social history of the upper classes during the Gilded Age.


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