Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

“It is to Laura Claridge’s credit that she has written the first full biography of Post. An exhaustive researcher, Ms. Claridge has in this book provided beguiling new details about the taxonomies that governed Post’s life. And Ms. Claridge has situated her within the context of the fast-changing customs at the beginning of the 20th century when she exerted her greatest power.” Dinitia Smith, The New York Times

“In turning her attention to Post, [Claridge] takes up two mysteries. One has to do with etiquette: why, in a supposedly classless society like America, do so many people fret about table manners? And the other has to do with ‘Etiquette’: how did Post convert social disgrace into such a triumph? …Unlike the typical author biography, which suggests that salvation comes in the form of self-expression—shame and alienation converted into art—her life story testifies to the redemptive power of repression. Emily Post became Emily Post by doing what Emily Post advised.” Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

“Laura Claridge’s meticulously researched bio hints at a feistier Emily, who once ‘plied her banjo like a flirtatious peacock’ as a Gilded Age debutante mingling with boldface names….Emily Post is a rich portrait of an era, but — like its subject — it has little time for idle gossip.” Katharine Critchlow, Entertainment Weekly

“Claridge’s warm, appreciative text does full justice to the surprisingly democratic influence of Post’s most famous book, and it also paints a rich, almost novelistic portrait of a woman whose long, full life embodied the dramatic changes that transformed American society.” Wendy Smith, Chicago Tribune

“Claridge’s Emily Post is not only a fascinating look at a woman who managed to conquer many worlds in her time, it is also a social biography of the changing face of the United States during the 20th century.” Faye Jones, BookPage

“As with her last book, a biography of Norman Rockwell, Laura Claridge has revisited an American icon, upending or at least questioning cliché, which, in the case of Emily Post, is that of a fussy, obsessive woman preoccupied with which fork one should use. Claridge tracks Emily’s rise from vivacious debutante to poised but neglected society wife and mother against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, deftly tucking in such capsule anecdotes as the déclassé Vanderbilts vying for high-society acceptance….Claridge’s book hints at becoming a cultural or literary analysis, offering glimpses of Post’s historical context and writing style. Liz Brown, Los Angeles Times

“[Claridge] offers a rich description of the social development of the times,…an immensely researched work that straddles the line between academic and popular nonfiction…[R]eaders will find themselves rewarded with fascinating insights into the times through which Emily Post guided us.” Anne E. Carroll, Baltimore Sun

“Laura Claridge’s Emily Post is, in the end, a sterling — if you will — contribution to the biographies of American heroines.” Nashville Tennessean

“An absorbing new biography…Claridge writes a smooth, clean story of a woman whose legacy is much more central to American life than choosing the correct fork.” Evelyn Theiss, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The first to fully portray this pioneer, Claridge is becoming the sort of biographer readers will follow anywhere, …and now this absorbing study of a keenly perceptive ethicist second only to Eleanor Roosevelt in the immensity of her influence….The pain and humiliation of her divorce from Edwin Post fostered her devotion to writing (she was a successful novelist) and seeded the compassion and advocacy for women that shaped her highly moral approach to etiquette. Claridge chronicles Post’s remarkable ability to discern the needs of a burgeoning American public transformed by immigration, industrialization, war, and women’s and civil rights, and hungry for guidance in social and familial situations.” Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“It was the genius of Emily Post to show us that manners are the small coin of morality….Emily Post became perhaps the most important and certainly the most influential moralist of the 20th century. It is Laura Claridge’s genius to explain the surprising and improbable background and equally amazing personality of Emily Post.” P.J. O’Rourke, author of Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People

“What she [Claridge] has given us is not only a canny and insightful read, but when she calls her Emily ‘a domestic anthropologist,’ you know she’s right. Brava!” Nancy Milford, author of Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Laura Claridge has given us so much more than a mere biography of this august arbiter of good manners; [She] has flung open the doors of an entire society – she has shown us in enchanting, mesmerizing detail how the modern city of New York was built and made.” Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life

“… a biography as rich and engaging as a portrait by John Singer Sargent.” Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage

“Laura Claridge’s masterful Emily Post tells the story of a lively heroine, raised in a Gilded Age New York of silk-stockings and debutante balls, who wrote one of the enduring bestsellers of the 20th century…. Laura Claridge’s vivid, graceful biography of Emily Post is an essential contribution to American social history.” Eric Homberger, author of Mrs. Astor’s New York

In an engaging book that sweeps from the Gilded Age to the 1960s, award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of Emily Post, who changed the mindset of millions of Americans with Etiquette, a perennial bestseller and touchstone of proper behavior.

A daughter of high society and one of Manhattan’s most sought-after debutantes, Emily Price married financier Edwin Post. It was a hopeful union that ended in scandalous divorce. But the trauma forced Emily Post to become her own person. After writing novels for fifteen years, Emily took on a different sort of project. When it debuted in 1922, Etiquette represented a fifty-year-old woman at her wisest–and a country at its wildest. Claridge addresses the secret of Etiquette’s tremendous success and gives us a panoramic view of the culture from which it took its shape, as its author meticulously updated her book twice a decade to keep it consistent with America’s constantly changing social landscape. Now, nearly fifty years after Emily Post’s death, we still feel her enormous influence on how we think Best Society should behave.