Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge is a fascinating in-depth biography of our favorite etiquette expert, Emily Post. Very in-depth and looong. So I have compiled twenty of the most interesting facts about this woman who was so much more than just an etiquette expert.
1. Her father participated in the building of the Statue of Liberty base and she played inside as a girl. She also attended the opening of the Statue.
2. Her father was a famous architect who basically built Tuxedo Park, NY.
3. Was called the best banjoist in fashionable society when she was young. Banjos were trendy in the 1890s.
4. Motto was “toujours la politesse, jamais la verite” meaning “always courtesy, never the bare truth.”
5. She had a terrible loveless marriage and was divorced. As a dissatisfied wife, she took up writing and was a successful novelist.
6. She was a guest at Mark Twain’s 70th bday party.
7. After her divorce, she helped with interior design for her father’s architect friends and was somewhat of an amateur architect herself. She even wrote a famous book on architecture.
8. She started writing non fiction as an advice columnist but she was originally discouraged from writing about etiquette publishers thought it would be tedious for her.
9. She took a road trip across the US in 1915 with her sons and wrote about it. This was before there were good roads and they were constantly getting stuck in the mud.
10. Her son received the first award conferred on an American pilot during WWI.
11. Emily liked to claim that everyone had begged her to write etiquette, it was more something that was offered to her and she took on bc she found the existing books so bad.
12. She wrote the first edition Etiquette longhand in a year and a half. Published in July 1922, Etiquette originally cost $4 (abt $45 today).
13. Emily was listed as one of Life magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
14. Statistics say that Etiquette was the second most stolen book from public libraries, after the bible through the end of the 20th century.
15. She was an activist against prohibition.
16. She hosted an etiquette radio show during the 1930s and loved being on the radio.
17. Was not above some snobbishness: when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were touring the US, she said he should be addressed as royal highness and she should be addressed as “you.”
18. As an older woman, she had a closet full of red shoes.
19. After WWII she worked to bring Jewish orphans to the United States.
20. Didn’t care about elbows on the table and would regularly put hers on the table at fancy parties.