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Head of Zeus
02 Sep 2021 * HARDBACK * £25 * 9781788548229

A survey of the world of the wealthy heiress – glittering and gleaming, flawed and fascinating – from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.

Non Fiction / HBLW (Modern History)
Extent: 384 pages  Format: 234 x 153 mm Illus: 2 x 8pp clr
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
Take Six Girls
A Different Class of Murder
Rex v Edith Thompson
Life in a Cold Climate
Also by Laura Thompson
Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar BabiesLaura Thompson

'Witty, insightful, deliciously gossip-laden and slightly scandalous ... Heiresses makes for an entertaining, occasionally sad and never less than gripping read' Anne Sebba

'Excellent ... [A] wonderfully entertaining book' Sunday Times

'Exquisite and gossipy ... Thompson, a gifted storyteller, obviously delighted in the writing of this book' TLS

'[A] deeply empathetic study of heiresses through the ages' The Times

'Life is less sad with money', said Emerald Cunard; Barbara Hutton was the 'Poor Little Rich Girl', but which is true?

Laura Thompson explores the phenomenon of the heiress from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries. Take Mary Davies, a child bride at the age of twelve, and her thousand-acre dowry of today's Mayfair and Belgravia, which gave the Grosvenors their stupendous wealth. Or Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough, whose American railroad fortune helped sustain Blenheim Palace. Winnaretta Singer showcased the work of Debussy in her Parisian salon; Daisy Fellowes enjoyed parties, fashion – and other people's husbands – without shame or conscience. Alice de Janzé shot one of her lovers and was suspected of murdering a second; Woolworth heiress, Barbara Hutton, married seven times.

Money should mean power and opportunity, but in the hands of these women it was so often absent. Why did so many struggle to live with so much? Did the removal of need render their life meaningless? Were they riven with guilt at all they had, knowing they really should be happy? With her signature intelligence and wit, Laura Thompson tells these women's stories – glittering and fascinating but often sad and scandalous – on a gripping search for the answer.

Laura Thompson is the author of several critically acclaimed works of non-fiction. Her first book The Dogs: A Personal History of Greyhound Racing won the Somerset Maugham Award. Rex V. Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murders was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award. She has written biographies of Nancy Mitford and Agatha Christie, A Different Class of Murder about the Lord Lucan scandal, The Last Landlady about her grandmother, and the New York Times-bestselling Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters.

Details the incredible – often scandalous – true stories of the extraordinarily wealthy woman throughout history.

Author writes with real style and is a previous winner of the Somerset Maugham Award.

Should appeal to readers of recent 'society' bestsellers like Anne Glenconner and Craig Brown.

MARKET: Anne Glenconner Lady in Waiting; Craig Brown Ma'am Darling; Andrew Lownie The Mountbattens; Mary Lovell The Riviera Set.

'Heiress is one of those words, like penthouse or superyacht, that invite schadenfreude. As Laura Thompson's excellent book makes clear, there is nothing more satisfying to the popular imagination than a poor little rich girl ... [A] wonderfully entertaining book' Sunday Times

'[A] deeply empathetic study of heiresses through the ages' The Times

'Exquisite and gossipy ... Thompson, a gifted storyteller, obviously delighted in the writing of this book' TLS

'I always enjoy Thompson's books and this sounds fabulous' The Bookseller

'[A] fluent, readable study of wealthy women' Daily Telegraph

'With plenty of gossip, scandal and witty insights on every page, Heiresses is undoubtedly an entertaining read from start to finish, telling stories that range from sad and heartbreaking to outrageous, frustrating and spectacularly glamorous ... This is an intelligent, fascinating and infinitely readable book that's been structured well and offers such a wealth of brilliant material (not to mention an entirely new reading list to explore afterwards) that even the most casual of readers will not fail to be captivated by the lives of the Million Dollar Babies' CultureFly

'Absorbing study of women burdened by prodigious inheritances ... Thompson presents a gossip-strewn survey of rich women with time on their hands' Financial Times

'An entertaining introduction to the adventures of independently wealthy women in Britain over the past four centuries' BBC History Magazine

'A fascinating account of the lives of women born filthy rich' Best magazine

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