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11 October 2017The Dollar Princesses
08 November 2017The Borgias - the most infamous family in history?
13 December 2017The History of Pantomime - a very British Feast
10 January 2018Emerging from the shadows - the self portraits of Goya
14 February 2018Tamara de Lempika - Mistress of Art Deco
14 March 2018The Amadeus Myth - Mozart (1756-91) and his world

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The Dollar Princesses Anne Sebba Wednesday 11 October 2017

Between 1870 and 1914 hundreds of American heiresses flooded the shores of continental Europe, trading their fortunes for titles.  They were known as The Dollar Princesses and included Consuelo Vanderbilt at Blenheim and Mary Curzon at Kedleston.  These marriages - dubbed by some as gilded prostitution - were usually hard-headed matches plotted by the parents.  They may have kept many a grand estate from collapsing but few provided lasting happiness when the fairy tale was exposed.  This lecture examines the clothes, the portraits, the jewels and the literature of the Dollar Princesses.