The Beau Monde

The Beau Monde : Fashionable Society in Georgian London

3.79 (84 ratings by Goodreads)
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Caricatured for extravagance, vanity, glamorous celebrity and, all too often, embroiled in scandal and gossip, 18th-century London's fashionable society had a well-deserved reputation for frivolity. But to be fashionable in 1700s London meant more than simply being well dressed. Fashion denoted membership of a new type of society - the beau monde, a world where status was no longer determined by coronets and countryseats alone but by the more nebulous qualification of metropolitan
'fashion'. Conspicuous consumption and display were crucial; the right address, the right dinner guests, the right possessions, the right jewels, the right seat at the opera.

The Beau Monde leads us on a tour of this exciting new world, from court and parliament to London's parks, pleasure grounds, and private homes. From brash displays of diamond jewellery to the subtle complexities of political intrigue, we see how membership of the new elite was won, maintained - and sometimes lost. On the way, we meet a rich and colourful cast of characters, from the newly ennobled peer learning the ropes and the imposter trying to gain entry by means of clever
fakery, to the exile banned for sexual indiscretion.

Above all, as the story unfolds, we learn that being a Fashionable was about far more than simply being 'modish'. By the end of the century, it had become nothing less than the key to power and exclusivity in a changed world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 168 x 237 x 22mm | 778g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 40 black and white halftones
  • 0199659001
  • 9780199659005
  • 279,322

Table of contents

Introduction: the 'brilliant vortex' ; 1. The beau monde: London's little coterie ; 2. Leading the fashion: 'a most brilliant shew' ; 3. Life in the town: 'all together and all distinct' ; 4. Politics and fashionable life: 'all the chatter chitter I heard' ; 5. The court and fashionable display: 'most tastefully spangled' ; 6. Beauties: 'so pow'rful her charms' ; 7. Risk, exile and fraud: a changeable world ; Conclusion ; Notes ; Index
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Review quote

there is much to commend here. The wealth of manuscript material mined in the course of the book's production is impressive. Greig's use of a variety of household accounts helps to illustrate some keen observations. * Robin Eagles, History * I suspect that it will succeed in gaining a wide readership - deservedly so, because it manages to combine readability (Greig has a keen eye for lively quotation and telling details) with subtle and important scholarship. * Bob Harris, English Historical Review * an impressively researched and wide-ranging account of the social and cultural practices of 18th-century Britain's "fashionable" aristocratic elite * M.H. Markus, CHOICE * A sparkling and iconoclastic debut. Hannah Greig rescues belles and beaux from celebrity biography to restore a dynamic social universe, charting the rise of a new social leadership in the wake of the glorious revolution - forged by fashion, and remade in town every single season. * Amanda Vickery, author of Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England * This book, beautifully illustrated throughout, encapsulates the quest for power and exclusivity in a changing world. * Discover Your History * Meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, including merciless satirical drawings of the time, The Beau Monde is a fascinating spin round this most colourful period. * The Lady * The Beau Monde is diligently researched and the footnotes are full of matter. * Norma Clarke, Literary Review * A fascinating study... If you remember Michael Heseltine being dismissively described by Alan Clark as a man who bought his own furniture, you will find Greig's thoughtful account of its 18th-century equivalent a great read. * The Times Higher Education Supplement * The pages of Greig's work sparkle with lush descriptions of jewels, clothing and colourful pictures of elite life... Readers seeking a meticulously researched exploration of the world of the beau monde won't be disappointed. * BBC History magazine * Hannah Greig ... tackles the challenge posed by her title The Beau Monde, head on, wrestling with it, taking it apart, even adding a dense but deeply researched "supplementary essay" on the uses and meanings of the term. All this pays off, for her vivd and playful book tantalizes us ... Greig moves with faultless poise through the London scenes that she has so carefully and memorably anatomized * Anthony Fletcher, TLS * Ms. Greig's work is an absorbing cultural and political history of aristocratic Georgian England. * Austenprose Blog *
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About Hannah Greig

Hannah Greig is a lecturer in eighteenth-century British history at the University of York. Prior to joining York she held posts at Balliol College, Oxford, and the Royal College of Art. Alongside her academic work, Dr Greig works as a historical adviser for film, television and theatre. Recent credits include the feature film The Duchess (Pathe/BBC films 2008, directed by Saul Dibb) and Jamie Lloyd's production of The School for Scandal (at the
Theatre Royal in Bath).
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Rating details

84 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 21% (18)
4 45% (38)
3 26% (22)
2 6% (5)
1 1% (1)
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