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Head of Zeus
Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies Laura 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

'[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.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Modern History
02 Sep 2021 * 384pp * £25 * 9781788548229
'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
'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'
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
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.
ALSO BY Laura Thompson
A Different Class of Murder
Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford The Biography
Take Six Girls
Rex v Edith Thompson
A Different Class of Murder
Life in a Cold Climate