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Karen Harper | Cash for Class: American Dollar Brides
Author Guest / April 17, 2019

One of the most unusual upper-class traditions during the American Gilded Age and the English Victorian and Edwardian Eras was that of American heiresses marrying into British nobility for money.  This fascinated me and led to years of research to write American Duchess. Some famous examples of dollar brides include Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie Jerome; Cora, Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey (yes, I know that one is fiction) and my very real heroine Consuelo Vanderbilt whose social-climbing mother forced her to wed the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895 when she was in love with someone else.  The Vanderbilts paid a fortune to help renovate the duke’s massive Blenheim Palace in exchange for Consuelo becoming his duchess.  At age 18, how would you like to have a starter home of nearly two hundred rooms and be wed to a man you hardly knew? Consuelo’s New York City marriage was dubbed ‘the wedding of the century.’  Perhaps the 60-piece orchestra, 54-voice choir singing O Perfect Love and 4000 guests did make it undisputedly that.  Yet Consuelo found ways to live her own life and help others, as well as producing ‘an heir and a spare.’  And, fortunately for this author, who likes to write and read great love stories, she later found…